The number of job vacancies in the UK has hit a record high, according to the latest official figures for 2022.
The Office for National Statistics said that vacancies hit 1.1 million between July and September 2021, the highest level since records began in 2001.
The unemployment rate in the UK was estimated at 4.5%, compared with a rate of 4% before the pandemic.
The ONS said the number of employees on payrolls showed another monthly increase, rising from 207,000 to a record 29.2 million in September.
"The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels," said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS. With the increasing number of jobs available, and so many ideal candidates in the market, you definitely need a stellar CV to stand out from the crowd. But the question that may cross your mind is “how to make CV stand out?”
"A CV is a key to getting a recruiter to say, ''Yes, I want to speak to [them],'"'" said Jodi Brandstetter, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, recruiting expert and author of Hire By Design: A Hiring Blueprint With Design Thinking. "This marketing tool highlights why you are the best fit for this role."
We talked to HR executives, recruiters, consultants, and CV writers to find out what they think is most important when writing CVs that best reflect your work experience and land you a dream job in your competitive area. Here are ten recommendations on how to make your CV stand out, whether you are looking for an entry-level position, securing your next post, or pursuing an executive-level position.
How to make your CV stand out?
1. Optimise for applicant tracking systems.
As a professional, you benefit from understanding how application tracking systems (ATS) work and their role in narrowing down the candidate pool.
The applicant tracking system (ATS), which recruiters use to receive, process, scan, store, rank, filter, and search CVs, can be a black hole for poorly written ones. Because these systems track and even assess incoming CVs, a CV that does not fit well will simply fall through the gaps. Optimising your CV for the ATS by following the best practices below can mean the difference between an application that recruiters never see and one that is ranked highly as a good potential fit for the open position.
It is important to note that because there are so many different ATS programs and because recruiters are individuals who have their habits and preferences for searching the system, a candidate cannot ensure a perfectly optimised CV. However, following these best practices will help you to create a CV that stands out.
2. Always include keywords.
Include keywords from the job description to create a CV that stands out. For example, while writing CVs and submitting job applications can seem like a guessing game, the key is to use the same keywords and language in the job description. The ATS's job is to parse your CV for a match for the job, which is done via keyword search. If the job calls for a particular experience and you have it, reflect it on your CV in matching language.
3. Use acronyms.
Use acronyms for your credentials, but spell them as well to create a standout CV. One strategy is to include abbreviations and the full word so that the hiring manager can discover your CV in the ATS regardless of the words or abbreviations they use. For example, if you have the SHRM-SCP and SPHR credentials, spell them out in the Education and Professional Credentials section of your CV as "Senior Professional in Human Resources" and "Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional," respectively, in addition to using the acronyms at the top of your CV next to your name. This is merely an illustration. The acronyms can be used according to your field.
4. Keep it simple.
Keep it straightforward and simple is one of the answers to making a CV stand out. Simple is preferable when it comes to CV format. The most modern ATS can handle complex formatting like text boxes, different fonts, headers, and footers, but these systems are unlikely to be used by businesses. Because HR technology is frequently underfunded, many organisations' ATS systems are antiquated.
5. Highlight your tech stack.
Technology is now the driving engine behind any successful organisational function, and there is a program, software, or app for nearly every task. Professionals in the field use various software and applications according to the requirements of every department.
As a result, the experts advise that you identify each system you have used previously to highlight your experience and demonstrate your ability to master new ones. Instead of using generic language like "ATS experienced," be specific and identify the brand and name. It is also acceptable if you have previously utilised highly specialised or esoteric systems. If you do not think the recruiter will recognise the technology, simply tell them.
6. Write a strong professional summary.
If you get beyond the ATS, you will only have a few seconds to catch a recruiter's eye with your CV. Therefore an excellent professional summary is essential. Any recruiter will tell you that reviewing a CV takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
Candidates should customise their CVs to each job they apply for, including a personalised cover letter, but the CV summary is especially critical. Therefore, each time you apply for a job, your professional summary should be updated to reflect how you are the greatest fit for that position.
Effective professional summaries will provide the recruiter with all the information they need to say yes to you as a candidate in an easy-to-read style. According to HR experts, to create a CV that stands out use bullet points to make it easier for the recruiter to skim your professional summary and use the job requirements as a writing guide. The bullet points should demonstrate that you are the best candidate. You do this by highlighting all areas in your summary where you satisfy the qualifications listed in the job offer.
7. Be clear and concise.
Yes, get rid of all those SaaS acronyms you memorised and demonstrate that you are [the company's resource for professional development and effective communication].
To show off your communication skills, write simply and concisely in an easy-to-read fashion. This will help you to create a stand out CV.
Use bullet points and concise, informative headings instead of large blocks of text to guarantee that the reader digests the material rather than passing over it.
Action verbs like developed, executed, launched, and cooperated have a significant impact since they give people immediate information about your accomplishments, so try to use them as much as possible.
If you are looking for a position/ job in a human-centric, communication-focused profession, go beyond simply mentioning your experience, skills, and accomplishments; bring your CV to life by demonstrating your interpersonal and human side.
Whether you are seeking your first position or a seasoned professional, remember to write with the ATS in mind and share your skills and expertise through examples that demonstrate the practical application of your knowledge.
Personalise your professional summary and CV to reflect your qualifications and experience, and use keywords from the job posting. Also, keep in mind that a clearly and concisely written, well-formatted CV demonstrates your communication skills and ability. These tips will surely help you to create a stand out CV.
8. Share concrete, practical examples.
An excellent CV goes above and beyond your credentials. In a CV that stands out, incorporating a skills section in list style that emphasises the scope of your professional experience at a high level, highlighting schooling and credentials is the usual practice. Still, the practical application of that expertise shines. Then, under each of your jobs, split those down further.
9. Tailor your CV to the job and industry.
As a professional, you already know that candidates should have an individualised stand out CV (and cover letter) for every job they apply for. Competitive CVs are ATS-optimized, including keywords and phrases from the job description. Because no two job postings are alike, strategic candidates update their CVs frequently.
However, there are two other aspects to consider while tailoring your CV:
Specific vertical mentioned in the job description: You need to tailor your CV to highlight your experience in the field emphasised in the job description. For example, you can use bullet points and list direct experiences corresponding to what the job posting is looking for. For instance, if the prospective employer seeks to increase employee engagement and boost company culture, use bullet points to highlight your experiences in related disciplines, such as employee relations and diversity and organisational consensus-building.
Industry and organisation: Traditional conservative industries such as finance and law require more official language and a simple layout, whereas creative or design-driven industries allow for a more personalised stand out CV. Simply save your CV as a PDF to ensure it appears how you planned. Stick with PDFs because ATS can mess with fonts, formatting, and bullets in Word documents.
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