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How to increase your response rate on your CV

Job applications can be a draining process. Lengthy application forms, slow replies from prospective employers - it’s exhausting when you’re just trying to showcase your skills and and experience to ultimately get hired. Then sometimes, you don’t hear back at all which can leave you incredibly frustrated and demoralised to say the least, especially if you’ve been completing applications for a few months.

So why may this be? Well, it may be a as simple as the job market being particularly challenging at present. For example, the pandemic saw multiple redundancies and staff concerns over job security, which led to an increase in candidates, but a decline in jobs advertised.

On some occasions, it could be down to the employer and their requirements, but may not have added these exact requirements to the job advert, or on the odd occasion, you just may not be quite what they’re looking for based on what is written in your CV. Therefore, if you’ve been applying for jobs where you meet all the requirements and you’re still not hearing back - it’s time to start thinking about exactly what’s going wrong. The good news? It’s easy to turn things around and increase your response rate.

We’ve put together a quick guide on how to increase your replies from prospective employers, showcase your skills, and maximise your chances of landing that dream career or job role…

Showcase Your Skills

It’s surprising how many candidates have a wide-ranging set of brilliant skills, but they don’t showcase them in the best way. Prospective employers are glancing quickly at your CV, looking at job titles and then scanning for certain keywords related to the job. So quick in fact, that you only have a maximum of 8 seconds to make an impact before they decide to put your CV down and move on, or put it in the ‘call for an interview’ pile.

As an example, say you’re looking for a role in marketing. You will need to be sure to mention your experience with paid advertising, including the names of different software platforms you’ve used, and content management systems. Perhaps you’re using programs like Photoshop or InDesign in your day-to-day duties. Don’t forget to include your proficiency level.

Hiring managers don’t spend long looking at the CVs of candidates, so every piece of information has to count. Your CV should showcase a mixture of your hard skills, the ones essential for the job, and soft skills. What are soft skills? Well, they’re things like fitting into a company’s work culture, or managing your time efficiently. However, you will also need to add some key, and ideally, measurable achievements to show how your skills added value to the business and the role itself.

Proofread Your CV (Then Do It Again)

It’s the advice we all have in the back of our minds - proofread, proofread, proofread. Even a small mistake in your CV or application form will be picked up by prospective employers. Plus, an increasing number of companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These tracking systems automatically eliminate candidates they deem unsuitable, and any spelling errors, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies with font size can count against you.

ATS systems will even reject a CV that’s too long, for example, so, proofread your CV, check for any errors and then read through it one last time to make sure you haven’t missed anything. We’d also suggest asking a detail-oriented friend to proofread for you. A fresh pair of eyes is always helpful!

Tailor Your Application

If you scour the job listings on LinkedIn, CV-Library, or any major job board, you’ll see the same job title advertised at different companies. Each role will require slightly different skills and experience, with some overlap. This is where tailoring your application is so important. It’s a hassle, we know, but if you can edit your CV to emphasise exactly how your previous roles and experience match their desired profile, you’ll stand out from a crowded market. If you’re applying for a number of different roles within your field, ensure you have tailored CVs for each role, rather than using the same one.

It’s tempting to go generic with cover letters. Writing 20+ a day is a lengthy process! However, you’re not giving yourself the best chance of being hired if you go for the generic ‘I am a hard-working and motivated employee’ cover letter. Instead, read through the job application posting carefully.

Do some research on the company and look at their mission statement/company values on their website or LinkedIn page. Tailor your application to their ethos and explain how your skills and experience match. Lay out your vision for the role and how you see the role progressing in the future. Talk about why you’d love to work there and how your values align.

It can be helpful to talk about some recent projects you loved, or new campaigns that caught your eye. A little bit of flattery goes a long way and hiring managers aren’t immune to it either! Just ensure your praise doesn’t sound disingenuous or false but comes from a real attitude of admiration.

Creative portfolios work in much the same way. Create a master portfolio which showcases your best work, but make sure to swap in and out relevant samples, depending on which industry you’re applying for. Creatives can work within a number of industries, and if you’ve been freelancing for some years, you may have worked across lots of different products and brands.

Explain Gaps in Your CV

Explain why you took those 3 months off. If it was to go travelling, explain how travelling the world helped you become more resilient, and increased your problem solving skills. Employers will notice and may wonder if you were made redundant or fired, so instead, treat the gap in your work history like another job. Include the skills you gained, and mention any volunteering completed during your time away. Emphasise volunteer work and include it in a separate section of your CV, as the skills gained are very valuable.

If your CV gap is because of illness, or child-raising, mention that too. Employers are more understanding when gaps are explained - include a brief summary in your cover letter, in the second or third paragraph.

If you need any further help in writing your CV, covering letter or LinkedIn profile, please do get in touch. We also offer an interview advice and application form support services - our team of trained professionals are always here to help. Contact us today by clicking here and find out more about how we can land you your dream job.

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