Making sure recruiters shortlist your CV
It’s 2021 and time to let go of the one-size-fits-all timeline of career events resume we learned in college. If you’re not applying for a job where everything can be standardized into a certification, you will have to invest in storytelling. I’ve been hiring people for over 20 years, and helping to reposition CVs for around the same number of years. Applying a marketing lens to the task, here’s what I find works:
- Paint by numbersJobs are about helping the company make more revenue or increase profits. Figure out how your roles have helped you do that for your employers and quantify it. So instead of saying “ran 50 events” say “Influenced deal flow of $million through 50 events”. “Managed recruitment for the widgets division” can become “Helped recruit 50 key individuals to drive the widgets division growth by 20%”
- Tell the big story in 50 wordsAttention spans are dropping. Even a one-page resume is a long read. Can you describe in 50 (key) words what you can do for your company and substantiate with proof? “Like B2B marketing expert who has partnered companies in their 10x growth” or “Proven expertise in improving NPS by at least 1 point”.
- Mind your keywordsMany companies use automated screening tools that look for relevance of your resume to the job applied for. So if they are looking for “sales” don’t say “business development” in case the algorithm doesn’t recognize it as the same.
- One Size Does Not Fit AllIn the pre-digital days a resume was an elaborate affair. You typed it up and went to a shop to make copies. So you couldn’t edit it for each job you applied for. And so you (hand) wrote a covering letter to customize it for that specific organization or role. But digital makes it super easy to create a custom application for EACH job. And you come across as rather irrelevant if you don’t do so. Look at the role and organization and customize your story to match what they would like to know. This is even more relevant for candidates with a large and or diverse experience. Do your research and try to showcase – with data and charts – how your expertise is relevant to them.
- Size Zero CVDo not throw in everything from your kindergarten graduation certificate! Keep your resume focused on the bits that are relevant. Or figure out how they can be made relevant. So let’s say you made the leap from being a programmer to marketing. Unless the marketing job requires IT experience, you should limit that piece of information to a single line. Job is located in Mumbai? Maybe you don’t want to put your home address in Gurgaon at the top of the resume.
- 2 formats or 1?If you are applying through a headhunter, they often reformat the resume into their standard template. You can make it easier for them by offering your CV in Word in addition to .pdf. Even if you are asking a friend to share the resume with their employer, offering an editable version will allow them to customize it and correct any errors they spot.
If you’re a hiring manager, offering a template to potential candidates that takes care of all these points will make your life much simpler too!