As a marketer, you should know a lot about making an instant impression. Consumers are busy, have a short attention span and are bombarded with competing messages from other brands. It’s just like recruitment - employers are in the same situation, so you really need to apply some of that marketing know-how to your CV.
How long does a CV get before it’s filed under ‘read later’ or ‘trash’? Answers to that question vary greatly. Many recruiters say they’ll spend around 30 seconds on each CV, while a recent survey by The Ladders found that people spend around six seconds reading before they decide what to do with a CV.
Use your marketing skills for your CV
Stick to vital information – Only include the most important points. Yes it sounds obvious, but look through it very carefully and exclude anything that’s not specifically helping to get your target employer interested in you and persuade them to interview you. Get someone else (preferably another marketer) to read it before you decide the CV’s really finished.
Create a good customer experience – Even if you’ve managed to captivate the employer for a few minutes, they won’t read the document as carefully as you’ve written it. Think carefully about the employer’s experience of your CV – guide them by making the most important information and structuring the CV carefully.
Get the little things right - Make sure your CV stands up to scrutiny should the employer decide to pick every sentence apart – they can be unforgiving, just like consumers. Of course, they’re unlikely to do this, but remember that your document will be skim-read and the employer is likely to spot inconsistencies and typos easily.
Understand your customer - Good marketing is based on research and understanding your market. Study the job advert or description carefully in order to understand the company’s needs. Find out what’s going on in the company and the issues it faces in the market. For bonus points, find some information about the interviewer before you turn up.
Stay on message – Don’t distract or irritate the employer with irrelevant information or too many details. Read the job description or advert carefully so you can include the information the employer has asked for.
Design it well - Present your CV so it looks professional and is easy to navigate. Avoid using the default Microsoft Word templates (there are far better template documents online if you need one). Break up text, use short paragraphs and use bullet points. Don’t stretch the document margins right to the paper’s edge and don’t use tiny fonts just to fit everything in. Instead, concentrate on using shorter expressions and cut out the fluff.
Use accessible language – It’s OK to use marketing industry words, but avoid jargon as much as possible. Your CV may go to an HR person before it gets anywhere near someone that understands the ins and outs of marketing.
Be current – Eye-tracking research has shown that employers spend more time looking at the two most recent jobs listed on your CV. Make sure the most relevant points of these jobs have priority and keep the information on other jobs light.