Improving Your CV
The article, Improving Your CV, is from Aussie contractor site www.Brainbox.com.au.
Improving your CV is crucial if you want to be put forward for as many interviews as possible.
The majority of CVs and cover letters received by agencies are in electronic format (email), and often they will be run through a program which adds them to a CV database.
Most CV reading/scanning software includes a keyword identifying and sorting system which has the capability of ranking or rating CVs based on the number of “keywords” contained in the CV.
If you add your CV to an online job-board database, the companies and agencies searching for potential candidates will execute a keyword search comprising of skills and other words, so your CV must contain the correct words in order to be picked out.
Even when a person reads your CV, the odds are that they will also sort it based on keywords.
So, you must find out your keywords when improving your CV.
Its obviously very important then to ensure you have the right keywords in your CV, and that you repeat them in case they are missed by your reader, and to improve the hit rate when the CV is searched. You’ll get fewer CV rejections then.
Which Keywords Should You Target?
But what keywords to use, and how?
If you are posting your CV online to a database, or simply sending it in to an agency on spec:-
1. First step is to consider your ideal position. Describe it on paper, and try to identify the most important aspects of the role. Do any keywords stand out? What sort of qualities would a candidate for this role require? Can you conceivably say you have them? E.g. Would you like to manage your own time and work autonomously? It may sound silly but use a thesaurus if you need to – You are looking for key words and phrases that describe your ideal job, and therefore must describe you.
2. Next think about the kind of company/organisation you would like to work for. What values are you looking for in a company? You can use these keywords/phrases to describe yourself.
3. Finally – in this ideal position, what skills would you need? This is an ideal opportunity to identify both your future career developmental needs and areas in which you need to upskill. If you don’t currently have the skills then get them, and you will be able to add these skills to your CV – with the explanation you are working towards attaining them.
If you are applying for an advertised position:
1. Start with the job description – either get this from your recruiter or if applying directly, from the company. Also look at similar positions. What are the essential skills and qualities listed? Are any words repeated more than once in the description?
2. Try and find a job description for the position that would be the next level up from the one you are applying for. Compare the keywords for both. The keywords in the higher-level position may be useful to add in, to show that are you are capable of growing within the firm.
3. Find the company’s ‘mission statement’ – you’ll most likely find it on their website. From this you will be able to identify the key “values” of the company you are targeting.
4. Research your company’s closest competitors. Look at their job descriptions similar to the position you are applying for. Are there any different keywords that stand out? Using their keywords may illustrate your competitive edge within the marketplace.
5. It is also useful to read the latest industry journals and magazines and online sites, looking for current trends, buzzwords, latest technologies, newest skills etc. Headlines of articles can be a great if unusual source of keywords. Of course the information on latest trends in the industry/profession won’t harm you in interview either!
Don‘t Overdo The Keywords
Ensure that you use the keywords more than once but don’t overdo it. Three mentions of each keyword is enough. It is also important to try and include keywords in your cover letter and/or in the early part of your CV, in order to spark the interest of anyone reading it.
Get a friend to test out you CV. Ask them to highlight the keywords they think stand out, and to see if they can match the keywords in your CV, with keywords highlighted in your ideal job description/the advertised job description. If they can, you’re onto a winner!
The final things to remember are:
1. Its no use using skill keywords if you don’t actually possess the skills!
2. Try to mention keywords relating to both your personal qualities, and the prospective company’s values in your interview.
3. Try not to simply describe yourself by copying whole chunks of the job description – recruiters/hiring managers are not daft – they will be able to tell.
Improving Your CV by using the right keywords is crucial in making you a successful contractor.
Julie Spencer is the Australian Marketing Manager of eurolinkglobal
Julie Spencer ([email protected])