Writing a CV to sell yourself

When it comes to searching for a job the excitement can quickly subside when you consider the state that your severely neglected CV is in. Yes, the application process for some companies can be very extensive and seem unnecessary but you need to get on with it because there will always be someone out there who is willing to put in the effort that you are lacking. I am here to help, by putting together some useful hints and tips, however major disclaimer: I am in no way an expert in this field and therefore not guaranteeing a 100% success rate but have a read and hopefully you will pick up something useful.

General tips

You need to put yourself in the mind of the company who will be reading your application. If you were a recruiter what would you want to know about yourself? What would matter the most? What qualities would you be looking for?

Most of you will be applying for a job/placement in Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Advertising or any hybrid of the above. You need to understand that communication will be a critical part of your role and therefore if you can’t write a CV and cover letter without a grammar mistake then in the words of DJ Khalid:

However, I do understand that your brain can work against you when rereading by running on autopilot, overlooking missed words and grammar mistakes. There are a few steps you can take to weed out the mistakes:

1. Printing it off- This may seem so old school but you are more likely to spot some mistakes with pen and paper.

2. Giving it to someone to read over- a fresh set of eyes can sometimes spot the mistakes you missed.

3. Using an online spell checker- I do recommend Grammarly and SpellCheckPlus although these websites may only pick up spelling mistakes instead of poor grammar so do be careful not to rely on them too much.

CV

It’s common knowledge that a recruiter will take less than 15 seconds to look at your CV, in other words, you have 15 seconds to let the employer know that you are exactly what they’re looking for and more!

Design

Use design to create a simple, clean, and clear CV. If your design doesn’t add to the simplicity of the document then you’ve missed the mark here.

Length

The more concise the CV, the more of it that will get read within the 15-second time frame so get rid of any waffle and stick to punchy bullet points. I suggest trying to fit it on one page if possible.

Relevancy

Keep it current so that means the volunteering you did 6 years ago at your local animal rescue shelter, although very commendable, is not necessary to include.

Adapt

Every company is different and is looking for different things so you can’t afford to be lazy. The more that you can tailor your CV to the company, the more ticks in boxes you get from the employer.

On a final note, do be careful when you are exporting your CV to a PDF as this has a tendency to disrupt the layout and structuring of the document. Make sure to open the exported version to check for any changes before you send it off.

Cover letter 

When there is an option to include a cover letter, ALWAYS INCLUDE A COVER LETTER! Use this as an opportunity to fill in the blank spaces between you and the role your applying for. You need to show the recruiter how everything that you’ve said on your CV will actually be of benefit to them and the position they are trying to fill. You can’t expect them to put 2 and 2 together, you must do this for them.

Do your research! This seems so cliche and is usually the most tedious part but trust me, it can really set you apart. Don’t just stop at the ‘About us’ page on their website, take a look at any recent news articles mentioning the company and their successes.

Do avoid waffling and restrain yourself from using sweeping yet hollow phrases stating that you are ‘a very determined individual’ without telling them how. You need to back up every statement that you make with a relevant example to prove this. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Before you start your cover letter, grab a notebook and make 2 lists;

In the first list make a note of the skills required for the position. For example, these will include ‘excellent written communicative skills’. The second will outline the individual qualities that the company is looking for in you. These 2 lists create a checklist to make sure that you’re addressed and answered their requirements. It’s not important to address every single requirement but obviously the more the better.

Finally and most importantly, sell yourself! I don’t doubt that you are extremely talented and have done some impressive things so don’t be afraid to tell them.

The only thing left to do now is to send it…

Megan Rea is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-rea-a52437111/

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