How to make sure you are shortlisted for a job

career guides


Picture the scene: you’ve found the job of your dreams, you know you have the necessary skills and experience but you’re in competition with loads of other candidates. You feel that if you can get to the interview stage, you’re in with a good chance. But how do you make sure you get that far? 

Writing a CV can feel like a daunting prospect. Most of us don’t like the idea of having to sell ourselves, which is what we feel that a CV should do. As a result we can procrastinate about getting it done, which means we’re delaying the moment when would could potentially be applying for that dream flexible role.

Here at 2to3days we don’t think writing your CV should be a chore. With a change of mindset you’ll see that it’s less about selling yourself and more about seeing a need in a business and knowing you can meet it.

Make yourself irresistible

Before you start writing, you need to adopt a new mindset so you can come at your CV from a different approach. Instead of looking at how to sell yourself, show how you can fix your potential employer’s problems. You want to leave them feeling like they need you and not the other way around.

You might be the one feeling vulnerable but look at it this way - the business has a problem that needs to be resolved. It has a gap that needs filling and it can only do that with your help. Prove you are the missing jigsaw piece that they need.

The only way to do this is by tailoring your CV. Draft it in a way that shows you are what they need. It’s a chance to convince the reader that with your experience and skills, they have to employ you.

A well thought through CV and properly constructed covering letter stands out from mediocrity like a beacon. It shows that you have considered the role and when it only takes six seconds for a CV to make an impression, it’s vitally important to get it right.

Be a problem solver

Your CV shouldn’t be a generic summary of everything you’ve done in your career up to now. It should be tailored so as to demonstrate that you have the right skills and experience to do the job that you’re applying for. You’ll need to draw out and emphasise different examples depending on the role, to demonstrate how you can help them - don’t make them have to work it out for themselves. 

Stop and think who will be reading your CV. Will it be the business owner; your interviewer and potential future boss? Or will it be a larger company or recruitment agency which uses an ATS (applicant tracking system), making those CV keywords all the more important to get you through to the next round and the interview process? 

Any employer will be looking for two things. First, the non-negotiables - the essential things you have to possess for the role. Second, the negotiables - nice-to-have attributes which are desirable but aren’t essential. 

Sometimes it will be clear from the job advert what the essential skills and experiences are. If not, you’ll need to spend some time going through the job description to try and work it out. Then be sure to cross reference and structure your CV to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job.

That doesn’t mean you need to be able to tick all of their boxes. Studies show that many women won’t apply for a job unless they’re 100% qualified but don’t be put off if you can do the majority and not all. The main thing is to demonstrate your skills. Taking the time to edit your CV to make it relevant really pays off.

Start off on the right foot

If you are asked to write a covering letter, this is a major signal to demonstrate why you are the solution to their problem and how you can demonstrate that. Make sure you have found out who you should address the letter to and triple check the spelling of their name too.

Writing a cleverly thought-out CV, which shows what you can do for the employer rather than simply listing everything you’ve done in the past, is the best way to ensure a coveted spot on that shortlist and moving on to the interview stage of the recruitment process. Prove you are their solution and you will be hard to resist.

If you want more help putting together the perfect CV, register to download our free CV writing guide now or sign up for one of our webinars with partners City CV.