When I used to talk to people in depth during a CV consultation, the thing I had to constantly keep reminding them was not to tell their life story in their CV or cover letter. People seems to find it really difficult to be concise and edit (read slash and burn) their career history, but if your info isn’t of the slightest interest to the recruiter, then it shouldn’t be in your CV. This is how the process of getting a new job works:
The key stages of getting a job:
To call you to interview a recruiter simply wants to see if you can do the job. They don’t have much time (assume they don’t) and they might also have a huge pile of CVs to read – you want to make sure your CV gets put in the ‘call to interview’ pile.
Unless each piece of information earns its place and enhances your application you need to get rid of it.
Of course before you get a job interview your CV has to be read which only happens if your Covering Letter is read first.
So here’s some blunt, no-fluff advice on how to get a job interview by making sure each stage of your application is up to scratch:
The sole purpose of a covering letter
The one purpose of a covering letter is to make the recruiter read your CV.
You just have to say why you’re contacting them (you’re replying to an ad, you’ve been referred, you’re writing to them speculatively etc), mention your situation if applicable and briefly outline the related skills you have that will tempt them into reading your CV. These skills must reflect the job spec outlined in their ad.
The sole purpose of a CV
The only purpose of a CV is to get you called in for an interview. You won’t get a new job based on a CV alone – someone needs to actually talk to you first!
You need to think about who’ll be reading your CV and what they want to know. And then tell them JUST that.
The person initially reading your CV probably won’t even be the person who’ll be interviewing you, but they’ll will most likely decide in around six seconds if you’re in the yes or no pile – so put the good stuff at the top.
Think how you scan through an article in a magazine or online looking for the bits you need because that’s how people read a CV.
Put a Skills Summary on the first page, and add any Key Achievements to the first page as well (but only if you have any really brilliant ones). Now is not the time to be modest!
The CV should ideally be on two pages and you don’t need to add your date of birth, your marital status or your nationality as it’s illegal for anyone to discriminate against you on these subjects.
You don’t want to give them any reason not to consider you so don’t waffle on, ensure you tailor your CV to the position and company and make sure they know how to contact you.
Yay, I got an interview now what do I do?
If your Covering Letter and CV get you an interview then now it’s just down to you – so you’d better be prepared! A recruiter wants to know what you’re good at, how you do your job, what results you get and then they’ll want proof.
They’ll want to know why you want to work for them, what you’ll bring to the position and why they should hire you. If you don’t know the answer to these questions then you won’t get the job.
The Sales Funnel to you getting a new job is basically five stages:
- Your Covering Letter is so good the recruiter bothers to read your CV
- Your Personal Profile is so good the recruiter bothers t read down to your Key Skills section
- The Skills Section is so good the recruiter bothers to read page two of your CV
- The skills and abilities in the rest of your CV match what the recruiter wants and they call you for interview
- The interview is amazing because you did your homework and they offer you the job
So cut out anything that doesn’t enhance your application and earn its place, focus on getting each stage right, and do your research because you’ll stand a much chance of getting the job of your dreams.