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5 Tips to Avoid CV Rejection

Various studies have shown that Recruiters, either agency, HR or hiring managers, spend an average 6- 9 seconds scanning the first page of your CV before making a decision to short list or discard an application. This is especially true in the age of Job boards, Company Career pages and LinkedIn where every single job will receive 100’s of applications and only a few will be from applicants with the required set of skills and experience, few recruiters who are handling multiple jobs have the time to really go through the fine detail of every CV (especially one that is more than a few pages long) in the first elimination round.

It can happen to the best of us, we make a CV that we think will be engaging for a job application, and you know you are perfect for the role, but it takes all but ten seconds before a recruiter will throw it out, in the meantime you may be waiting days, weeks or forever without hearing anything, good or bad, about your application. This can happen for a number of reasons, so that is why it is important to make sure that your CV, which may be the only thing that is looked on in the first round of scanning, is done well. If you can follow a few simple tips that will keep the reader from thinking you are not suited, you will have a better chance at getting to first round interviews and ultimately a chance winning that great career opportunity!

Tip 1- Use ‘buzzwords’, skill sets and achievements that are in the Job Description.

Each industry has certain words that are immediately attractive to them, these must be all on the first page of the cv – listed and bulleted. These can include “accomplished”, “developed”, “managed”, and “team player”. All of these words will automatically stand out to the person reading it, which will then help keep their interest. You can mention skills that are additional to those required but you must mention the skills asked for in the Job Description as omission could lead to rejection,

  • if they need an established client base, then state it with numbers of clients and value $m
  • if they need skills in using Bloomberg terminals then state your level of experience – beginner, intermediate, advanced
  • if they need team management experience, then detail number of direct and indirect subordinates and number of years you have held such responsibilities, and any training you may have received.

Tip 2-No errors

Make sure you take the time to read and reread your CV a few times to make sure there are no errors and even get someone else to have another check. CV’s that have an error in the beginning, or anywhere, will almost certainly end up in the Bin. This can include mistakes in dates of jobs, sometimes creating overlaps or gaps which may not be factual, and may make you look careless, all this detail must be as accurate as possible. If you make it clean, you have a better chance at each interview stage.

Tip 3- Make It Professional Looking

Try not to use too many colours, just black, or 2 colours at most, with the text being black and use a single font with no more than 2 size variations. When a CV automatically looks childish and cartoony, they might reject it altogether, of course there may be exceptions in art and design related fields. By keeping it sleek looking and simple, they will be able to read through it with no distractions, thus making them more likely to consider you as a candidate. Avoid photos of yourself unless specifically requested, this causes a high rate of rejection as it may leave a Recruiter wondering why you think a photo is important – it is not for most job roles in most industries. A good recruiter may however investigate your Professional online presence by checking out LinkedIn, where a good professional photo is vital.

Tip 4-Tailor it to the Job

By tailoring your CV to the job you are applying for, you can become more attractive to the Hiring Manager and avoid being rejected by a recruiter or HR person who may not think you are suited. You can add details that will only be relevant for this certain role, and you can make sure to make it as attractive as possible, highlighting your experience and listing your achievements in working in similar roles.

List your achievements in Key areas that are relevant to the job you are applying for – between 2 and 5 of the greatest in each job you have held, such as exceeding expectations and targets by 120% – it is important to quantify it, and be prepared to back it up at interview with any formal data you may have.

If you have a long career which requires a longer CV, then place a summary panel on the front page, after your name and personal contact’s that list your overall relevant career achievements (between 5 to 10) and then again within the body of the CV under each job you have held where you acquired the skills and achievements. Details beyond the first page could be missed so having a list upfront may help avoid the bin.

Tip 5- Cover letter – keep it brief

While it is not always necessary, a cover letter will sometimes be requested as part of your application, if you add a cover letter to your CV, the HR department will be more likely to pay attention to what you have to say especially if your relevant skill set isn’t obvious within the body of the CV, this may be things that take more explanation than mere bullet points within the CV. Strong advice here is to not make it too long but state exactly what you have to offer and that your skill set matches the role perfectly.

When you have a well written CV, you will find that it is usually much easier to get to the first interview stage and indeed it may make the interview process at all stages easier if your CV doesn’t not beg too many questions with good accuracy and stating facts to your skills and achievements that are to the point but covering all aspects required within a Job description and ensure that this can be backed up with ease.

Following these above tips will help you make a CV that is engaging and achieving its aim to get you in front of the hiring organisation.

For additional reading there are many good books on Amazon that are worth buying to assist in cv creation, or for a few dollars you can hire a professional on to do it for you. Good luck! 

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