The job history is perhaps the most important section of your CV, and writing a good one could be the best way to secure an interview. This is where you sell yourself and show potential employers why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Far too often, job-seekers miss this opportunity by submitting dull, generic lists of duties. Instead, they should write with the reader in mind and make it easy for prospective employers to see how their work experience has prepared them to meet the employer’s needs. That means presenting their job history in a way that is readable, focused and concise.
We all know that spelling errors and poor grammar could sound the death knell for any résumé, but avoiding these errors may not be enough to make a résumé stand out.
Here are seven ways you can buff up your job history and create a CV that shines.
Vague descriptions do not tell a recruiter much about what you have accomplished, or what you are capable of doing. Saying that you managed a sales team does not pack the same punch as saying that you recruited, trained and supervised a team of 10 employees, generating more than $5 million in annual sales.
List accomplishments over duties
Too many résumés read like job descriptions with lists of duties. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything about your performance. Given the choice between the communications professional who writes landing pages and the one who writes landing pages that increased click-through rates by 70 percent, most recruiters would go with the latter.
To use this tip effectively, think about how your work benefited your organisation. Did you do something that made or saved money, improved a process or saved time? Brag about it!
Quantify whenever possible
You may have noticed a lot of numbers in the examples used so far in this article. A sales team becomes a team of 10 people. You don’t just increase click-through rates, you increase them by 70 percent. The more you can quantify what you have achieved, the clearer your accomplishments become. This makes it easy for hiring managers to see your strengths.
Use keywords (hint: they are right there in the ad)
If you are writing a résumé for a specific job (and you should), it’s smart to put keywords in your résumé that also appear in the ad or job description of the company you are applying to.
Observe the functions and skills that the hiring company says it’s looking for and make sure that your résumé includes them. Wherever possible, use the exact words and terminology. Use this trick carefully and with a light touch. It’s not a good idea to copy and paste the ad and call it a day.
Bonus tip: Use keywords that appear higher up in the ad. They tend to be the most important ones.
Use action words
As much as possible, avoid phrases such as “responsible for” or “in charge of.” Instead, opt for verbs that say what you actually do. Words such as “managed,” “resolved,” “developed” and “created” paint a much more vivid picture of your role.
Use bulleted lists
Résumé formatting could mean the difference between a recruiter reading it or tossing it. Remember, an employer may have dozens of résumés to review and not a lot of time to do it. You want your résumé to be as easy to scan as possible, and to help achieve this, bullets are your friend. A bulleted list is easier to read than a paragraph, helping keywords to stand out more prominently.
Use the rule of three and odd numbers
In design, architecture and photography, there is a common rule about grouping objects in threes or odd numbers. Why not borrow from these aesthetics experts when preparing your résumé, listing the top three, five or seven responsibilities and achievements for each job in your history? This is probably not going to determine whether or not you get the interview, but it could make your résumé more attractive to the prospective employer.
Keep your list concise and focused on responsibilities that are the most relevant to the job to which you are applying. A list of 11 responsibilities is an odd number, but that list is probably too long.