Most often, when you apply for a role, your application is one of many applications. Initially, your CV may only be skimmed for keywords, qualifications and industry experience. At each stage of your CV being skimmed or (ideally) read, you need to ensure you are removing all potential barriers that could prevent your CV moving on to the next stage.
File Format – You will most likely be submitting your application electronically so the first potential barrier is the file type. If you use an apple mac for example, your saved file may not be compatible with a windows pc. Rather than hope for it to work or rely on them requesting a compatible version, save your CV as a PDF. As you can imagine, trying to take a shortcut by scanning a printed version or taking a screenshot of your CV will come across as highly unprofessional, you might be surprised at the number of times I’ve seen this…
Layout & Formatting – The next barrier can often be the layout and formatting of the CV. Ultimately the primary purpose of the layout should be to present the information clearly and logically. The secondary purpose is to create a visually appealing document. Or in other words, ease comes first and engagement comes (a close) second. Another aspect to consider with formatting is the consistency in which you apply your formatting ‘rules’. Do you bold the titles? Then make sure all titles are in bold. Do you indent your bullet points? Then make sure all bullet points are at the same level. What about the font? Font size? How are years/dates written & where? Each style decision you make must be applied consistently.
Comprehensible – Finally and importantly, your CV needs to be comprehensible. This means that every sentence should be clear, concise and thoroughly proofread! If the meaning of your sentence is not clear after being read once, you have a problem. Have a friend in another industry read your CV and give you feedback, rewrite anything that is unclear. This leads to the other consideration, the use of industry or organisation specific language, you need to ensure that someone without your specialised knowledge can grasp what you are talking about. However, this doesn’t mean removing all industry jargon as those words may be essential keywords needed for your CV to be short-listed. What it does mean, is providing context to aid understanding, and elaborating as required.
With these barriers out of the way your CV is already looking more likely to succeed. Next time we can start unpacking some of the content with the third ‘e’, education.