Millions of Aussies are searching for jobs at the moment. Here’s how to stand out.
Millions of Aussies are searching for jobs at the moment. Here’s how to stand out.

Big mistakes to avoid on your CV

Consider it the gatekeeper between you and securing that first interview to land your dream job. Your CV - and its accompanying cover letter - are key to showing who you are, and why that company needs you.

Here are the mistakes you need to avoid, and how to stand out in a crowd.

Millions of Aussies are searching for jobs at the moment. Here’s how to stand out.
Millions of Aussies are searching for jobs at the moment. Here’s how to stand out.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Do something different and show how unique you are, said Opus Talent Solutions director, Michael Carter.

"I've seen CV's be gamified, where you become a character and have to walk around unlocking aspects of the CV - I've seen video recorded presentations as a CV and I've seen PowerPoints with awesome graphics as a CV, all of these were truly great," he said.

"But, for your normal standard word copy of a CV, I would suggest tailoring it to the role.

"In today's day and age, people are time short and can often lack the attention to detail to spot a great candidate when scanning multiple CV's, so it's your job to point it out to them.

"In my experience, people are looking for specialists, not generalists.

"While you may think that your extra experience makes you more valuable - by listing that experience that is irrelevant to that company you are watering down the things that are relevant."

Michael Carter has seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to CVs.
Michael Carter has seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to CVs.

PUT PASSION INTO IT

Your cover letter should include what job you are applying for and a summation of your career so far - but try to put some emotion into it, Mr Carter suggested.

"For example - 'I have been a Software Engineer for five years, it has become my passion. I have learnt from incredible tutors and now hope to pass on my knowledge to others'," he said.

"Speak about something to do with your work you are proud of, link your experience with the role and why you would be a perfect fit and talk about how excited you are to meet them in person."

SPEAK BEFORE YOU SEND

"The best way to standout is to first attempt to speak to the person posting the advert," he said.

"Remember, not all hiring managers are experts in writing adverts and most of the time HR will not be directly affected by the role, so their ability to convey the nuances of the job can be limited.

"The more information you have at your disposal, the better you can tailor your CV to the job.

"This will give you a competitive advantage over other applicants and show a great initiative from the outset, while also putting you front and centre when they are going through the applications."

People are seen queuing outside a Centrelink office in Preston, Melbourne, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP
People are seen queuing outside a Centrelink office in Preston, Melbourne, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Picture: Stefan Postles/AAP

He suggested using LinkedIn to find common ground with the perspective employer.

"It would be good to add the current hiring manager and other staff members on LinkedIn and show that you have done some personal research … and where possible, use that in your cover letter," he said.

"You could say 'I researched some of the staff on LinkedIn and saw that you like to promote from within rather than hire from the outside, which I really admire'.

"Hiring managers aren't always looking for the most qualified candidates, most of the time they are looking for someone they can work with for eight hours a day."

DITCH THE FREE TEMPLATE

There isn't one perfect style of CV, according to Linda Jeffrey, National Vice President of the Career Development Association of Australia - but there are a huge amount of bad ones.

"People who are unsure of how to create a CV often search online and find a free template to use or even pay for a complicated template," she said.

"Unfortunately, templates are very generic so not suitable in many cases to enable the best presentation of individual career histories, skills and experience.

"A simple, logically laid out CV with clear headings and an easily read font -like Calibri, Arial or Helvetica size 10/11 - is not difficult to create and is the best way of presenting yourself to employers and recruiters.

"Recruitment is all about weeding out applicants to reach a small group who will be offered an interview, so if your application CV is complicated it may well be placed on the weeded out pile quite quickly."

New jobs are few and far between at the moment, so here’s how to stand out.
New jobs are few and far between at the moment, so here’s how to stand out.

STAND OUT, COVER TO COVER

Read the advertisement and any application guidelines carefully prior to writing a cover letter as requirements can be very varied.

"For example, there may be page or word limits, you may be asked to respond to targeted questions or selection criteria, or describe why you are the best person for the job," she said.

"You need to tailor the wording and language to that which is used in the advertisement and role description.

"You need to do this because … online application documents get uploaded into applicant tracking systems.

"Recruiters will carry out word or phrase searches across the uploaded data to sort applicants from best to worst match.

"Only the best matches will actually be chosen for further scrutiny, so if you don't reflect the language in the advertisement in your application documents, your application may be discarded as a poor match without a human being ever looking at it."

GAPS IN YOUR CV? NEVER FEAR

Gaps out of the workforce can be an issue - but it is less of an issue than it used to be, Ms Jeffrey said.

"Many people now work on a contract or project basis, so gaps on CV's are quite common," she said.

"Focus on what you have to offer … and be realistic - if you haven't worked for a number of years you are likely to need to upskill.

"Research current job advertisements to see what employers are asking for in your chosen field prior to enrolling in any further training.

"Even if you have started but not yet completed a training course, you can include it as current study or training on your CV."

And if you need extra help or advice, it pays to invest in guidance from a professional Career Adviser.

"People have diverse and individual support needs at all stages of their working lives and generally don't know that there is help available," she said.

"It's a very small investment in comparison to the resulting ongoing benefits of securing a job that you enjoy."

Originally published as Big mistakes to avoid on your CV



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