How to optimise your CV
Coming from a recruiter working at Hays, the following tips will help you optimise your CV to increase contacts you receive from recruiters and multiply your chances of being selected for an interview.
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TIP #1: SPEAK IN THE 3RD PERSON
This will make you come across as more professional to employers.
For example, change:
“I am a full-stack developer with 2 years of experience building custom websites.” to
“Full-stack developer with 2 years of experience building custom websites”.
TIP #2: PERSONALISE YOUR CV FOR EACH ROLE
Have a general CV with all your skills in there and personalise your CV when you apply for a new role.
Use the technologies advertised in the job advert and emphasise your experience of those technologies on your CV.
For instance, if you apply for a role as a React developer, make sure all the projects on which you have used React are listed on your version of that CV. For each of those projects, the keyword “React” must appear in the description. Also explain how you used the technology as part of that project. In addition, if the job advert mentions a specific version of a language (e.g. Java 11) and you have worked with that version, make sure to specify that in your CV.
The number of keywords is important. More on that below.
TIP #3: (FOR NEW CONTRACTORS) REMOVE YOUR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
This applies mostly to the contracting market.
If you are looking to get into contracting without many years of experience under your belt. It is best to remove your years of experience from your CV. This is because you will be competing with some people having 10, 15 or more years of experience on their record. When employers see numbers: someone with 5 years of experience on one side, someone with 15 years of experience on the other side, the choice is made very quickly.
For example, change:
“Full-stack developer with 5 years of experience building custom websites.” to
“Full-stack developer with extensive experience building custom websites.”
TIP #4: OPT FOR A 1 COLUMN CV
We often see 2 column CV templates online which are very appealing visually. Unfortunately, because of the software some recruiters use, this could unintentionally be penalising you. This is because their search system will squash results in a 1 column view. As a result, your 2 column CV may be presented with text on one column overlapping the other, thus making your CV pretty much unreadable.
TIP #5: MAXIMISE KEYWORDS OCCURENCES
The search system recruiters use is in many ways similar to how we use Google search. As a result, you must optimise your CV the same way you would optimise a website for SEO using keywords.
Let us imagine a recruiter looking for a Java developer. They will type Java in their search bar and the system will return some results. The first results are going to be the CVs on which the keyword “Java” appears the most. The same way we almost never have a look at Google search results from the 2nd or 3rd page, recruiters will only get in touch with the 5 to 20 first people showing up in their search result.
So, if you are a Java developer, add (smartly) the keyword “Java” as many times as possible on your CV. Add it in your title, in your skills section and inside the description of every project in which you used Java.
TIP #6: OPTIMISE YOUR TITLE
Place your contact details at the top of your CV.
Most importantly, make sure your core skills are outline in your CV’s job title.
For example, change:
Full-stack developer (React, Java, Azure)
If those are the skills a recruiter is looking for, they know straight away that these are skills you are strong in and therefore could be a good match. And once again, this is also more keywords you are adding to your CV.
TIP #7: LOCATION AND TRAVEL PREFERENCES
Location counts, make sure the city you live in is on your CV and most importantly, whether you are happy to travel!
You may get more opportunities if you are happy to travel as most people (in this field) will prefer working remotely. Make recruiters’ life easier and let them know you are happy to travel right from your CV.
TIP #8: MAKE RECRUITERS’ LIFE EASIER
After all, recruiters are people. They will have questions on their mind to check if you could be a good fit for their client (the employer). For example, if their client is based in London and need someone in the office 2 days per week, you can make recruiters’ life easier by answering the question “Would you be happy to travel to London 2 days per week?” right from your CV thus increasing the recruiter’s interest in your CV.
The more questions you can answer from your CV the better!
TIP #9: DESCRIBE THE TYPE OF PROJECTS YOU WORKED ON
Did you work on a transformation project? Or was it a Greenfield project? Use those keywords in your CV.
Working on a project which is already mature and working on a brand new project will involve a different set of skills and challenges.
For instance if you have worked on greenfield projects before, this will re-assure recruiters and employers that you understand the challenges attached with working on greenfield projects.
TIP #10: Summary section
Have a summary section at the beginning of your CV (written in the 3rd person once again). It should highlight your main strengths and what differentiates you from other applicants in your field. That could be clients you have worked with, specific technologies you are particularly strong in (listing those here once again will increase your keywords count).
When recruiters send your CV across to a company, they may also send them a short paragraph summarising who you are. Very often, recruiters will copy from your summary section and send that to companies so make it as attractive as possible.
This section should be between 100 to 120 words ideally.
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