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You have done the work, gotten the skills, and chosen the career that speaks to you. Now comes the hard part: the job application.
Nothing is more intimidating than putting yourself and your skill set out there, but a great CV can help you get your foot in the door.
A CV is essential in showing employers who you are and what you have to offer. You want to show potential employers that you’re exactly who they’ve been looking for.
While every CV will be different for every position and company, they all adhere to the same fundamental principles. Knowing what language an employer is looking for will help your application stand out from the crowd.
Just remember these five essentials to write the perfect CV; it’s never been easier.
1) Make It About You
Keep the focus on you with your name as the title of the CV and your contact and professional details at the top.
Don’t waste valuable space in which you could be highlighting your skills, rather than filling it up with a gaudy “Curriculum Vitae” as the title. Remember, you are the product, and you are what your CV is marketing. So, make yourself stand out with your name as the title.
While the format of CV is flexible, your phone number, email, and city you’re based in should quickly follow the title in a smaller font. Since you certainly want the employer to contact you, ensure your reader can easily understand where and how to locate you.
Add a LinkedIn profile or any other professional site to the top of your CV. These links let the employer get to know you a little better and show them you’re a real person who’s interested in the position.
You should also include a professional profile at the top of your CV before listing your experience and education. This is a summary of the specific skills, experience, and goals you have when applying for the position, and it helps give recruiters a quick snapshot of what your CV will include.
You shouldn’t include information like your date of birth, and you certainly don't need to include a headshot. Not only is this type of content unnecessary and inappropriate, but in some places, it's actually illegal for employers to ask your age. Strict rules govern what employers may ask employees to protect their privacy and to safeguard human rights.
Quick Tip: Treat yourself like a brand, and market yourself.
2) Keep It Clean and Consistent
Nothing is worse than reading an unfocused and visually disorganized CV.
To avoid giving the recruiter a headache, make sure you check that your content is spelled correctly, doesn’t have too many fonts or visual designs, and clearly lays out your skills and experience.
An easy way to clean up your CV is to use bullet points. Alison Doyle, job search expert for The Balance Career, says that “the average recruiter or hiring manager spends only seconds looking over an applicant’s resume. To get the interview, you need to make your experience stand out – and quickly. A bulleted list can help you build your case. It shows the employer quickly and easily that you are a good fit for the job.”
The best fonts are simple and easy to read. Stick to Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri in 10 to 12 points. A larger size font in 14 to 18 point is good for titles, headings, and subheadings, but keep it all one style. Your margins should also be standardized.
Infographics can often look messy on a CV and are best left out.
Michelle Kruse from Career Cast says that while creative designs can be appealing, “they're also a great way to annoy recruiters who are attempting to sift through hundreds of other applications. When it comes down to it, it really just depends on the situation.”
Don’t take any chances with your CV, and leave the cute text bubbles and cartoon computer graphics at home; your readability will skyrocket.
Quick Tip: Keep it short, stylish, and simple.
3) Know Your Audience
Be sure to tailor the information you include on your CV to the position you’re applying for. Be selective about what experience, volunteering, and skills you choose to include. Those 10 years of ballet? Probably not very relevant if you’re applying for a job in advertising, so leave it off. But that part-time job while you were in high school, running the social media campaign for your local hardware store is worth noting.
Do a little research and get familiar with the company you're interested in. Familiarize yourself with the keywords they use in their documentation and job descriptions, and integrate them into your CV. This will help show recruiters you’ve done your research as well as show that you’re a good fit for the position.
For instance, if you’re applying for an SEO specialist or digital marketing role, make sure you mention your SEO and SERP experience as well as your familiarity with PPC.
Jen David, CV consultant at CV Library, believes that you should only include relevant experiences from the past decade, no later.
In addition, she goes on, after you’ve carefully selected which aspects of your skills and experience that you’re going to include on your resume, you should be as brief as possible. Your CV should be a summary of your job roles, employers’ names, and dates for the positions held. It should enable a recruiter to quickly and easily see the highlights, successes, and progression of your career.
It doesn’t hurt to add a brief description of the position and the types of responsibilities you had when you worked in it to the job list. A little detail lets recruiters know the kinds of roles you’re familiar with. Just remember to keep it engaging and in an active voice.
You should list your experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position at the top of the list.
If you follow all these tips, you should have no problem creating a basic CV that you can then customize when you’re targeting specific positions or companies. It’s easy to create a CV template that you can subsequently edit on the fly.
Quick Tip: List only relevant and recent experiences.
4) The Numbers and Platforms Matter
A quantified list of achievements will keep your digital marketing CV job specific and show off your skills and dedication to past projects.
Next Generation believes you should use analytics and metrics to communicate how you improved business, such as increasing traffic to a site or revenue in general. You should provide tangible elements as well, such as a 20% bump in organic traffic.
Not only will quantifiable results help make your CV more specific, but they provide you with an opportunity to showcase how your skills and work ethic made valuable contributions to your past employers’ goals. If you highlight the fact that organic traffic has increased on a project you’re involved in, your skills using SEO analytic tools like WordPress, Moz OSE, SEMrush, or Google Analytics will stand for themselves.
Don’t leave anything up to guesswork – let the recruiter know exactly how much you were involved and how much you achieved with a project. All of this will make your digital marketing CV that much more personal and specific to you and your accomplishments.
Quick Tip: Link a professional portfolio or website under your analytics.
Last, but certainly not least, is the proofreading stage. It can make or break a digital marketing CV. While it’s easy to assume that you didn’t make any errors, it never hurts to go back and scan your CV for any potential mistakes.
If you’re applying for a digital marketing position that is content heavy, just about the worst thing you can do is have simple syntax errors. These blunders will make recruiters think you’re inattentive when creating content, and they will ruin an otherwise well-done CV.
Avoid simple mistakes by proofreading. For a good guide to proofreading, check out Darla Phanklong’s post on CV-Library.
Watch out for spelling and grammar errors. Another good way to check your CV is to run it through Grammarly.
Quick Tip: Grab a friend to read over your CV. Sometimes, having a fresh pair of eyes helps catch any mistakes you may have made.
If you follow all of these tips, your digital marketing CV will be more readable and reflective of your skills. Now all you need to do is click that submit button.
Let’s hope it’s your first step to that coveted personal interview in which you can really persuade your audience that you’re the best candidate for the job. Good luck!