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Selling yourself: How to make your CV stand out from the crowd

A CV is a work in progress, that should be reviewed and tailored every time it is sent out

A good CV needs to show potential employers that you have researched their company and the position for which you are applying, and must demonstrate that you have the skills, qualities and experience that are required for the position.

Ideally, your CV needs to achieve all this in a very short amount of time, as busy recruiters, working their way through a pile of CVs, will spend on average just 20 seconds performing an initial reading.

Rather than thinking of your CV as the movie of your life, instead imagine it as the trailer that entices the viewer in, and makes them want to know more.

Research is your friend at this point. Look at the profiles of people that already have a position similar to that which you are applying for, take note of the language that they use when they describe their key competencies and try to integrate a similar writing style and keywords into your own CV.

Identify which of your skills are necessary for the job, and think about how to present them. Using industry specific language and keywords can help your CV to pass through the initial filtering stages, especially if this process is automated by use of an Applicant Tracking System.

Focus on your own personal brand. What makes you perfect for the position? A technique that many find useful at this point is to make a simple table. In the first column, note down the advertised requirements for the position, in the middle column insert the keywords and phrases that you have gleaned from your research, and in the third, record how your skills, experiences or qualifications show that you have met the criteria. You may also find it useful at this point to check that you have good facts and figures at hand, to add weight to your points.

Now you are ready for the next step – tailoring your CV.

A short, job-specific, opening paragraph allows you to sell yourself directly to the person reading your CV. Use this to summarise why you are the best possible candidate for the job.

When talking about past experience, link accomplishments specifically to the current position that you are applying for, starting with stating the skill that you are evidencing, and then moving on to provide additional detail.

Finally, and most importantly, once you have finished amending and tailoring your CV, print out a hard copy and proofread it, paying special attention that you check the following:

Spelling and grammar. Ensure that if you are writing in UK English, your spellchecker is aware of this.

Font and format. Is it consistent throughout the document?

Clarity. Is the CV clearly and concisely written? Remember the person reading it only has limited time, so make their job as easy as you can.

Completeness. Have you included all of the points that you made in your initial notes?

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