So, you have written a killer CV that highlights your best attributes, skills, knowledge, and experience. You have also found several jobs opportunities you are clearly a perfect fit for. The next step is to make sure your CV is among the (few) ones that will surface when a hiring manager or recruiter makes a database request. The difference is in the details and how meticulously you have paid attention to them. In our case, how optimised your CV is for search. Allow us to explain.
How Recruiters Identify Potential Candidates
We live in a digitalised world where technology dominates most aspect of our lives. Every CV ends in a database, be it ATS (Application Tracking System), AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools, LinkedIn or any other recruitment firm database.
When a Talent Acquisition team or hiring manager looks for suitable CVs in a database, they try to narrow down their search as much as possible, so that they end up with a manageable number of around 30-50 CVs (up to 100 max).
It is your goal, as a job seeker, to make your CV be among those 30 or 50 that rise. The best way to achieve that is by applying SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques to your own CV. In other words, you must find as many of the keywords recruiters will use to distinguish the most appropriate candidates that fit their job requirements as you can and use them in your CV.
Where to Focus
There are three main criteria used to help recruiters tell straw from hay.
1. The Job Function
This refers to the must-have skills the ideal applicant should have, such as in regards technology or language, or the title they are aspiring for. It is critical you define all tags and keywords that will enable your CV to be found by everyone searching a database.
For example, if you are a top managerial and financial accountant, keywords like accounting, financial planning, and budgeting (and synonyms) are possible requests and, therefore, must be written in your CV.
Take note of acronyms, too. They need to be written in both ways. For instance, FP&A and Financial Planning & Analysis, CFO and Chief Financial Officer, and so on.
Action: Help your CV surface when needed, and the reader to identify your skills, by stating all competencies in a tab (see below). Feel free to add 20-30 keywords related to your know-how.
In this example, you can add 12 keywords in a tab that looks pro as well.
2. The Industry
Finding candidates that come from the same or similar industry is the best case scenario for companies. They will invest less in training while they ensure that their new employee has all the required knowledge for their new assignment/job position.
So, make sure your CV mentions your industry, as well as all similar industries that a recruiter can search as a pertinent keyword. If, for example, you are specialised in the pharmaceutical industry, write it in your CV and don’t forget to also include all related fields, such as “life sciences”, “health”, “medical sector” and all the one related to your aspirations.
Note: If you are planning to shift industries and pursue a different career, tag all the new industry words.
Action: Write all the industries of your previous jobs and the one you aspire for, plus similars.
3. The Location
Depending on whether a company is looking for virtual/remote or on-premise employees, location often plays an important role in selecting the best talent. So, if a Singapore-based company recruit they will search for someone based in Singapore first. Therefore, do mention the location where you want to work (not necessarily where you live at the moment) and ensure it looks obvious when looking at your CV.
4. A Practical Example
As an example, if your CV looks like that:
Include Keywords: The words Chief Financial Officer, Head of Finance, and Finance Director are written somewhere in your CV. The best place is either in the explanation of past experiences/roles you had when working for another company or the last jobs section.
Define Company X: For example “A Facility Management SME, developing solutions for the shipping, distribution and warehouse business based in Singapore with subsidiaries in x, y, z countries”.
So, it should be something like:
Provided you have invested hugely in creating an impressive CV that speaks loudly of your best assets, experience, and accomplishments, making sure it emerges as a top choice from 100s and even 1000s of other CVs is your ticket to landing that dream. SEO is the most optimised way around it.