A well-written CV will distinguish you from other candidates. It shows what you can do, and what makes ‘brand you’ more suitable for the role than your competitors. In this way it signals to recruiters whether it is worth inviting you to interview in order to explore your potential in that role.
“It is important to remember that your CV is your marketing brochure”, says career expert Melissa Baxter, pointing out that the aim is to create a picture of yourself and of your achievements in the recruiter’s mind.
With this advice in mind, we set out our top tips on how to make your CV count.
You probably keep a core CV on file, but do not send the same document for every job application. Research the job, and employer, and reflect this in a CV which is tailored to each job.
“Ensure that all experience and qualifications that will be beneficial to the potential employer are emphasised”, says Nick Rogerson, consultant at Beach Baker Recruitment.
Keep it clean
Plan a crisp, clean, layout and save the bold type for headings. “Keep it simple and easy to read; text boxes aren’t necessary and can make the CV look cluttered”, says Rogerson.
Recruiters are said to spend only ten seconds scanning a CV (in their defence this usually only applies to the initial sifting process), and so an easy-to-read document is more likely to hold their attention.
Start at the top
Use the top of your CV to place a Professional Profile or Executive Summary, which tells who you are.It should refer to your core professional skills, experience, sector bias (if any) and personal attributes such as communication skills and drive. It can also include a statement about what you want to achieve in the next stage of your career. “The idea is that the reader’s attention is caught early and at the top of the page”, says Julian Long, managing director of property recruitment experts Foundation Recruitment.
“Many clients read CVs on phones as they travel and given the screen size, want to be able to assess quickly,” he says. “Bold, engaging statements from outset, such as ‘instrumental in the delivery of a new instruction or development or record fee generation’, give them reason to review the rest of the document”.
But avoid poetic licence. “Naturally, the summary has to be a true reflection of yourself”, says Long.
Two pages are regarded as the ideal length for a CV document. “A third page of deals, transactions and key achievements is acceptable”, adds Long, “but any longer than that, and the CV starts to get unwieldy.”
Recruiters want to read about more than your qualifications and previous job titles. "Ensure your CV is accomplishments-driven”, says Baxter, who is managing director, executive search, at interim specialists Russam GMS.
“To a great extent, if a job activity cannot be portrayed as an accomplishment, it may not be worth a mention in your CV. Therefore your CV should be primarily accomplishments-driven (rather than driven by duties and responsibilities)”, she says.
Rogerson adds a reminder that achievements should be related to specific clients, high-profile properties, or developments which you have worked on: “which will be relevant to the targeted job, and can be used as examples.”
Bullet points create a structure for CVs and can be helpful in keeping career history succinct and informative, says Rogerson. “They can be used to summarise areas of responsibility, clients and achievements”, he says.
Long agrees: “With each role, give a short intro of the core elements of the role and then expand --macro to micro-- with the use of bullet points. Keep them relevant and punchy”, he says.
When compiling a CV, be honest with yourself and the recruiter. “Never over-state your role, level or abilities”, Long points out. “In the property market it is relatively easy to verify a person’s credibility, and you do not want to create any ambiguity around your history”, he says.
Recruiters like to refer to CVs throughout interview and treat them as a springboard for discussion. When you are planning and writing your CV, imagine how you would talk about its contents.
Be your best self
In the commercial property market, with its attention to detail and emphasis on client relationships, it is important to always be your best, professional, self.The same applies to your CV.
A well-researched CV could open doors for you, whereas a shoddy effort frustrates recruiters and their clients. “It suggests lack of engagement and interest”, says Long.
“The CV is a sales document. You need to put effort into it and can’t expect to be snapped up if it doesn’t engage, no matter how buoyant the market”, says Long.
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