‘I am a conscientious and hard-working recent graduate who works well in teams…’ I’m already bored to the point of a coma. Even writing that here finds me yawning controllably despite having already had the six coffees that us students call a ‘mid-morning pick me up’. And yet I’m just like the majority of you out there; I’ve used this line countless times over any number of CVs and application forms. Not only is it dull and predictable, however, but it might actually stop you getting that dream job that all that student debt and living in some of the most damp-infested houses in the world has been leading up to.
Put yourself into the mind of your average recruitment manager. Faced with a mountain of ‘I have a great passion for….’ and ‘I have some experience in….’ you’re going to desperate cling to anything that makes your job (apologies to any recruitment managers reading!) more interesting. Because so many people make these basic CV mistakes , even a tiny amount of creativity is guaranteed to put your CV in the top percentage of resumes for any given position.
Consider this ingenious trick from a applicant for a position at Google. The search behemoth, who can receive up to 75,000 CVs in a single week, offered designer Eric Gandhi an interview solely from finding his CV on LinkedIn, so impressed were they with his clever use of their own user interface to promote himself. Definitely something you can’t say about anyone who used a Microsoft Word template and their often copied and pasted experience and achievements.
However, it is not just designers who have to put this amount of work into the look and feel of their resume. Everyone can benefit from altering their CV to better fit the particular company they are applying to. I personally know people who have got internships at prestigious newspapers by basing their CVs on the front pages of said papers, and the internet is full of other examples who went the extra mile to gain the attention of major companies.
However, always keep in mind the company you are applying for. Gandhi’s application worked because he was applying to a company known for their innovation and the famous design of their logo and front page. It definitely would not have worked, however if his was applying to a company known for being traditional. There are also certain professions where these sort of tricks are looked down upon. So sorry, law students, you’re just going to stick to that size 12 Times New Roman.
Basically, what it comes down to is the biggest piece of advice I can offer anyone writing a CV: really think about the company you are applying to. Also, do not let clever design hide a lack of experience of suitability for a job. No amount of using a company’s font but substituting your name into it or aping a company’s website will make up for demonstrating no dedicated interest in a givenfield. It might get you the interview, but if you’ve got nothing to say at that interview you’ve seriously wasted that midnight oil on all-night Photoshop and InDesign sessions. Stand out, but don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. After all, clever design without substance is just a gimmick.
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