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Five power words to make your CV stand out

To secure an interview, you need to get your CV spot on – and one of the easiest things you can do is to make you’re including the right key words. These are short words or phrases that will ensure your resume stands out when recruiters and hiring managers are scanning applications. Typically, they could only spend a matter of seconds on this task, and now that many companies use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS), including key words has become even more important. Here’s what you need to include:

‘Most wanted’ soft skills

According to a survey of 500 hiring managers, 73 per cent find it difficult to source graduates with the right soft skills. High on the list of attractive qualities are communication and leadership skills, problem solving, the ability to be flexible and adaptable, as well as a willingness to learn. Whether you’re just starting in your career or you’re some way on your journey, it’s important to demonstrate that you have the ability to transfer what you’ve learnt so far to a new environment and organisation. So, choose words which illustrate the way in which you’ll fit in with a company’s work culture, become a key part of their team and show that you’re reliable.

Industry-related qualifications

Show that you have the experience required by including the right industry language. Often, you’ll use this every day without realising. If you’re an accountant, for example, you may deal with payroll administration, budgeting and cash flow or audit controls. As you’ll know, there are many different areas you can specialise in, so take the time to outline where your skills lie. Always mention recognised qualifications, whether you’re studying for your ACA, ACCA, CIMA or something completely different. And think about the different sectors you’ve worked in. Do you have experience in the public or private sector? Is this within B2B, B2C, manufacturing, technology or financial services? Recruiting teams may not have a detailed knowledge of the places you’ve worked, so make this obvious for them.

Use proactive words

All CVs should be written in the present tense. This is a working document, so make sure the key phrases you use are ‘active’ rather than passive. What do we mean by this? Active words are those which show you’ve achieved something. Try using, accomplished, sold, designed, or created to make your CV stand out. Recruiters don’t want to know that you’re a ‘hard worker’, they want the evidence of how hard you’ve worked, which means leading a project from start to finish, taking charge in a challenging situation and proving that you’re a valued member of your current team. If you don’t know where to start, think about your ‘stand out’ moments at work and create your key words based on these.

Demonstrate your achievements using figures

The words you include on your CV are incredibly important, but have you also considered including figures? For some jobs, this may come more naturally than others. If you’re in a sales role, it will be easy to include examples of where you’ve exceeded targets, won new clients and contributed to overall success. However, this tip applies across the board. Employers love to see examples of where Candidates have demonstrated business sense by contributing to the bottom line. Why not talk about how your marketing decisions have increased revenue, how you’ve helped implement a process which has saved time and money or how you’ve completed a project ahead of schedule? An understanding of how your skills can contribute to the needs of an organisation will allow you to really sell yourself.

Use the job description

With content as king, the length of your CV doesn’t matter so much as the evidence it contains. The good news is that many of the key words you need are right in front of you – within the job description you’ve been provided with. Using this is a smart move. After all, these are the things hiring teams will be looking for when they scan your CV. Look at the skills description detailed for the role and pick out the words which relate to you and your experience. Don’t be tempted to send a generic CV, instead take the time to personalise this every time you apply for a new position. If you can demonstrate that you tick all the boxes, this will have a big impact on whether you’re able to successfully secure an interview.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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Kate Allen

Kate Allen

Kate founded Allen Associates in 1998 out of a determination to build a recruitment business which delivered a bespoke service centred on the needs of clients and candidates.

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