CV tips

Top CV tips to help you stand out in these challenging times

3 months ago by Morten Andresen

These are challenging times for many people and we are yet to see the full impact on businesses across the sectors that we recruit for. Many of our clients have seen significant uplifts as a result of the lockdown, but equally others have had to adapt very quickly to new business models or getting their business going again as lockdown measures are eased.

If you've unexpectedly found yourself in a position where you're looking for a new job, or you're just looking for a new challenge, compiling a great CV is something that you are still very much in control of. One of our most experienced recruiters, Morten Andresen, shares his thoughts on preparing your CV. Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a great CV but, having worked in recruitment at MorePeople for nearly 9 years, Morten really has seen the good, the bad and the ugly!

1. Please don't write War and Peace. It won't help you. I understand it can be hard to summarise 20 years of experience on a few pages, but that is kind of the point. Set yourself a goal of a relevant number of pages (this can be more than 1-2 if needed!) but make sure it is all killer and no filler. Spend more time talking about your most recent and relevant positions rather than roles that happened years ago. Chances are you have moved on significantly and/or the industry has so its relevance dwindles.

2. Give your personal statement some much needed attention. This is something we focus on with Graduates in particular, but frankly it is something that most people can improve. The best ones I see inject a bit of personality into the CV. It is very ironic that Personal Statements are so rarely that...personal. Hands up if you've seen a Personal Statement that reads "I am a hard-working and loyal employee with a proven track record of delivering xxx over the last xxx years..." Yawn...You might as well take it out and free up space. Far better to make it bespoke to you. This could be about your drives to change roles or things you have been proudest of in your career/life. Write it in the way you would speak it. Too many things get over-complicated because people try to write in business speak.

3. Reverse chronological order please. I want to see your most recent role at the top of you employment history. People who review CVs are often very time poor, so make it really clear from the offset what you have been doing.

4. Keep it clear and concise. Don't write 3 sentences when one will do. Don't outline your job description in your CV as most people will infer that from your job title. DO tell us about what you have achieved, with figures where possible, as that is what will help set you apart. Use bullet points. This helps to keep it really clear and stops it all from merging together.

5. Don't include references. If you put references on a CV, it gives people the chance to ring them before you are ready for them to. This is maybe less relevant if you aren't currently working, but the last thing you want is for a company to ring someone they shouldn't yet. Trust me, this has happened to me!

6. Give a brief 1 or 2 sentence intro to the businesses you have worked for i.e. (Insert company here) are a £xx million business supplying xxx to the (insert customers here). I have learnt that most businesses are very focused on their individual sectors and, as such, are not as aware of non-competing businesses in the same overall industry as you might expect them to be. This helps to build a picture of what you have been involved with.

7. This might seem like an obvious one but, whatever you do, do not lie on your CV. A lot of people have had roles they would rather forget or that they feel clutter up their CV. This is just part of your story now and you need to embrace it. Clearly, the more of these that happen, the worse the CV looks, but that is your challenge to overcome. In my experience, someone will call you on it eventually as you will slip up. It's hard to remember if you have extended a role by 6 months and brought something else forward by 3 months. A basic reference with that company will see it all fall down and your credibility will fall with it.

8. Not so much CV writing advice, but DO follow up any approaches you make. Keep a note of what you have applied to and which company/recruiter it is with. Nothing screams dis-organisation than applying to the same job 3 times.

9. If you are applying to something that is clearly left of field, then I would recommend you ring the company or recruiter first, otherwise most people will disregard it without giving you a chance. But if you can get "in front" (whatever that looks like now...) of someone then you have a chance to talk yourself in.

10. And, finally (albeit this list could go on for much longer I am sure...) please don't pay someone to do your CV for you. I genuinely believe this is going to give you more style than substance and is certainly not giving you anything you couldn't do yourself. Sit down, plan out what your biggest achievements are and then start writing. Give yourself a 30 minute time limit and see how you get on. It's much easier to think of the most relevant things to write when you are under time pressure than giving yourself the full day and filling the CV with every anecdote under the sun.

Please remember, a CV is only there to get you through the door. Once that happens, it is all on you. The CV will be there as a guide for an interview but it will be YOU that forces the final decision, not something you wrote on a few pieces of paper. I hope this has been useful and if you disagree with any of the above, then that's fine frankly! Write your CV in whichever way works best for you and I am sure it will all come good in the end.

And if you are in the fresh food industry and are looking for a role for whatever reason, then please get in touch with us. We are here to do what we can to help.