In her next column for TheLatch—, career woman and CMO Michelle Battersby shares the importance of putting time and personalised effort into your CV and cover letter when applying for new roles. Formerly the APAC marketing director at Bumble and now CMO for Keep it Cleaner, Michelle can spot a stellar application in a pile of hundreds.
There’s no denying we are living in difficult times, and the current climate is particularly challenging for those who are currently looking for employment.
With fewer positions available, roles that are hiring are seeing hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications, that employers and hiring managers have to sift through. Thus, it’s never been more important to have an impressive resume that stands out from the crowd.
To help those of you out there in the job market, I’ve collated the top five things employers look for when reviewing applications.
1. Speak to the reader →
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to applying for a role and this is probably one of the most important details to remember. Job applications should be personalised, tailored to the company you’re applying to, and should demonstrate that you have invested your time to put your best foot forward.
When applying for a role, be sure to research the company, the role itself and even current employees to demonstrate you are a great candidate. Familiarise yourself with examples of their recent work and use this information to then structure your application.
Reference your research in your cover letter and interviews and use it as a way to demonstrate your own experience and strengths. Understand your audience and the tone of the company. There may be instances where graphics, design-based formatting and colours are important, but there are instances where this would be a disadvantage and keeping it simple is the best approach.
Ultimately, there is nothing more powerful to an employer than a candidate that shows knowledge and passion for their brand — show this passion from the outset.
2. Play to your strengths →
Research has shown the average recruiter will look at a CV for less than 10 seconds. Think
about what you would want someone to see if they looked at your application for that amount of time. How can you stand out from the crowd?
Having your key achievements clearly pointed out is a must — make sure they draw in the
attention of the reader. This can be as simple as having career highlights, stand-out numbers or results, or key projects in bold. If this is all they take away.
3. Make it succinct →
You don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done in your application. Including too much can actually be a disadvantage as it may turn off a recruiter if it’s indicative of being unable to summarise key points and achievements.
Limit your CV to two pages maximum — if it means you have to limit the amount of experience you present, highlight the most relevant examples and group the rest in a list format.
4. Handle your application with care →
It should go without saying but grammar and spelling errors are a total no-no. If you’re doing a mass send out, be aware of copying and pasting your cover letter — triple check the detail to ensure you personalise everything.
Attention to detail is something every employer wants, so slow down and review your work. You will then give the reader the confidence that you have pride in your own work.
All you need to do here is take your time, proofread your application or have a friend or mentor proof it for you!
5. Leverage your transferable skills →
When applying for new roles, it’s important to get into the habit of thinking about the skills you possess versus the ones you may still be developing. You don’t need to tick every box, but nailing a few critical ones might be all you need to get you across the line.
This is particularly relevant for candidates with less experience. Think about showing your potential whilst also identifying which skills you have that may be the most appealing. Also consider what interpersonal skills you learnt doing group assignments at uni, or how you learnt to delegate within a team at school sports.
How did your school experience allow you to demonstrate your negotiating skills or what did that casual retail or hospitality role teach you about training and following processes?
If you do have experience, think about the parts of your previous role which you can carry across or adapt into a new position. Skills like problem-solving, attention to detail and a team mentality are universal skills that any employer will value.