Q: I have applied for over 200 jobs in the last month by sending out my CV. I have not had one company contact me for an interview; why do you think this is?

There is a big difference between sending out CVs and applying for jobs. You are clearly not applying for jobs. To properly apply for a job takes time; time to understand the job description, to research the company or organisation, and to tailor your CV to effectively present your skills, experience and achievements that will persuade the employer that you should be interviewed. Typically, to properly prepare to submit an application for a job can take one or two days.

It is easy to just send out CVs in bulk, even at random, and it may give you a feeling that you are working hard at finding a job. In reality it is waste of time as the chances of a company contacting you and inviting you for an interview are very low. My advice is to stop sending out CVs and start actually applying for jobs.

The other reason that employers may not be contacting you is that they don’t find your CV easy to read. Many people write their CV as a brief history of their life so far. It makes them feel good, but apart from family, few are interested in reading it. A CV should be an advertising flyer, not a life story.

In any marketing campaign the publicity material is a key factor in how successful it will be. The job search process is no exception. The CV (advertising flyer) is the way we market ourselves. Its sole purpose is to catch a buyer’s (employer’s) attention and to convince them to take a close look at the product (you) through an interview.

Consider for a moment how you respond to a flyer advertising an event or a product. Generally, how long do you read it? What catches your attention? What makes you decide to enquire further or make a purchase? All those points play an important part in how you structure the marketing flyer about you – your CV.

Statistics show that the average time spent reading your CV first time round is about 20 seconds and that 70 per cent of all CVs are never turned to the second page. So, you need to prepare your advertising flyer (CV) to convey the essential information to the reader very effectively and very quickly, ensuring that the marketing opportunity is not missed.

Tips for preparing your CV

Many people must think that HR managers or recruitment consultants are short-sighted. When they prepare their CV, they put their name in bold print with large fonts. Some even put coloured borders and fancy trimmings. Recruiters are not impressed by your creative art. Also, if you use a lot of space with your name, you leave less space for the important material “advertising” you and your achievements.

Many jobseekers begin their CV by listing their aspirations and personal goals. Your CV is about what you have done, not what you want to do. A common mistake is to launch straight into your career history; this is a total waste of your front page.

Another common mistake is to use small print to cram into the CV as much information as possible – just in case some of it is important.

It is important to format your CV in a way that will quickly catch the attention of the potential employer.  Decide what you are (manager, teacher, IT specialist) and put that information at the top of your CV as a “profile” immediately after listing your personal details. The profile should be stated in one or two short sentences. You must focus on what you are, not leave the task of deciding that to a recruitment agency or the human resources department of the potential employer.

The next section of your CV should list your achievements. Achievements are things you have done that were recognised by others. It is important to promote your achievements. If someone has not achieved anything in, say, the last five years, it is highly unlikely that they will start achieving if they were offered a job now. Conversely, if someone has achieved a great deal in the last five years, it is highly likely they will continue to achieve in a new job. Limit your list of achievements to three or four, simply and convincingly stated in two or three lines.

Your CV is undoubtedly your best chance to get an employer to invite you for an interview. Don’t blow it! Keep it uncluttered, state your profile at the top, then highlight your skills, experience and achievements. Whatever you do, don’t make it your life story.

Daniel Ough is a careers coach and founder of jobsearchhelp4u.com and Sandpiper Coaching. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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