If you want to land job interviews, then your CV needs to make a big impact from the moment it is opened.
The top quarter of your CV is the part of the document that is visible upon opening it, without having to scroll down. This part of your CV is the very first thing that a recruiter or employer will see, so it needs to grab their attention and enthuse them to continue reading.
If your CV’s top quarter fails to make the right impression, some recruiters will close your CV down without reading any further, and move on to the next CV in their inbox. To avoid this happening, follow these four tips for optimising the top quarter of your CV.
1. Use the space wisely
The top of your CV is an extremely valuable area, so wasting space is a costly error. Huge blank spaces and unnecessary information could ruin your chances of receiving responses from your applications.
When writing your CV, use the following methods to ensure that you are making the best use of the space on offer at the top.
Reduce page margins
The margins at the top and sides of your CV can eat into the available space in your CV if they are left too wide. By reducing your page margins, you increase the size of the area you can type in, and therefore give yourself much more room to sell yourself.
Minimise contact details
Including excess personal details such as your date of birth or full address, in your CV is another waste of valuable space.
The only details you need to include are your name, location, email address and telephone number, so that recruiters know where you can work and how to contact you. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one.
Once you have reduced your margins and minimised contact details, you should be able to fit a decent sized introductory section and still have your most recent role displaying when the CV is opened.
2. Write a persuasive profile
To ensure that you capture and hold the attention of busy recruiters, you should write a powerful introductory profile that quickly explains the benefits of hiring you.
Your profile should tell readers the types of organisations you work for, the experience you have, important qualifications and the problems you solve for employers.
Keep your profile short and sharp whilst using positive upbeat language to really sell yourself and excite recruiters.
Avoid using generic cliches such as “team player” and “results driven” as they are overused and don’t tell people anything factual about you.
3. Add a core skills section
To give readers an instant snapshot of your offerings, add a bullet pointed core skills section underneath your profile. Good terms to include are qualifications, industry knowledge, tools used and languages.
Keep the bullet points to three words or less or they may lose their impact. The purpose of this section is to enable recruiters to get an instant impression of your skill set from just an initial glance at the CV.
Many recruiters will review hundreds of CVs every week, so it’s important to win them over as quickly as you can.
4. Tailor for your audience
If you want to be consistently shortlisted, it is crucial that the top of your CV reflects the most important requirements of your target roles.
Before you start to craft your CV, you should always carry out plenty of research into the roles you are applying for, and the employers you are approaching.
Scan through lots of relevant job adverts, LinkedIn profiles and company websites to build an accurate picture of the essential qualities that your target employers are looking for.
Once you have identified what the most important factors are, ensure that they are included in the top quarter of your CV and made prominent. Never hide any crucial skills or knowledge at the bottom of your CV.
If the top of your CV closely mirrors the needs of the recruiters you are approaching, you will instantly appear as a suitable candidate.
You can also take this a step further by tweaking your CV slightly with each individual application so that no important skills are left unseen.
If you are in the process of job hunting and want to land interviews quickly, then a properly optimised CV top-quarter will be hugely beneficial to you.
In summary, you need to ensure that your formatting allows for plenty of content to be visible and that you are communicating your most valued attributes in a sharp and punchy manner.