2 Points about ATS CVs/Resumes

👉 I get lot’s of questions about having an “ATS” CV / resume. Which means a CV that works well with Applicant Tracking Systems – software / bots that scan your CV to figure out if you match a job ad.

I have two things to say about this:

➤ 1) have two CVs/resumes. One for people – more visually appealing, with more interesting elements that grab attention (eg a quote from your MD saying “Joe walks on water!” and perhaps a pic that makes you look friendly, warm, competant – a good pic can do that.) This is the document you send direct to a contact.

A second CV for ATS’s – easy for search engines to scan, really plain to look at, a simple document focussed on keywords, easy to edit to match the job ad (this has to be done if your ATS resume is going to work at all), easy to upload online.

➤ 2) Don’t let it get to the point where you need any kind of ATS CV. Fact is, you’re unlikely to rank high in the search results unless you practically match every word on the job ad, even then… There are so many factors playing in. It’s a needle in a haystack situation. You’re better off connecting with real live people.

I write ATS CVs but I warn my clients not to expect too much from it.

Mission “Improve CV” – Lift the Sales Power of Your CV – Part #1 & #2

The first job you have is to ⚡️get attention⚡️. So, in your “Improve CV” mission, whether you’re a CEO or an Accountant, your job search is a sales job. Selling you! And your CV is nothing if not a sales tool. And it’s first job is to get attention. But here’s what I see:

So many CVs – 95% – just look so ordinary. Like a million others. As a result, right from the start, you’re already struggling to get noticed, be seen as different or as a better class of applicant.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t trying new things. You may have downloaded a beautiful template from Etsy to improve your CV or resume. But then you discover that making your details ‘fit’ into it, is really hard. At the end it just looks as awkward as that old MS Word template you’ve been using.

There are 2 key areas in your “Improve CV” mission where your CV needs to really “pop” to get the attention you’re wanting. Here’s the first. And some ideas follow.

1) Mission: “Improve CV” – the look and feel, layout and overall presentation.

➤ Keep it simple: rather than over-complicate and look awkward, keep it simple and look well done, precise, well organised, professional. Get help with the word processing! No using spacebar to align things (use tabs! be precise), no tables (with a barrage of gridlines, switch off the gridlines/borders if you do use them in places).

➤ Watch your vertical (up/down) alignment. The readers eye is jarred by text that is not cleanly aligned top to bottom.

➤ Use a picture or a personal logo of some sort. Expert opinions vary on this. But I recommend it. A great picture (just a headshot) – where you look warm, friendly (not overly friendly, not over eager, not desperate to be liked), competent, well put together can work well.

➤ When you use a picture, place it top left. From a reader’s perspective it’s the best spot for it.

➤ To the right of the picture state what you are, “Management Accountant” “CEO” or “Mechanical Engineer”. Show immediately what role you fit into.

➤ Below that make a clear bold statement of a) your credibility – years of experience, qualifications, any well known companies you’ve worked for; and b) a confident, clear benefit statement – eg, “I provide Exco’s with financial performance dashboards and insights they never knew was available – helping them to make better, quicker, more profitable decisions.”

[I’m here for you, if you have a question. Reach out if you need help. Whatsapp me on +27 83 744 5454, or email me on gerard@wowcv.net]

The 2nd key area is:

2) Improve the actual content you use in the CV – how to use it to get attention.

Use the following:

➤ Clear statements: make clear statements about what you do. Be specific. Be brief. To make an impact you have to be. Example:

“I write CVs using my unique DISRUUPT formula that takes my clients from ‘lost in the crowd’ to employers bashing down their door with job opportunities – even if their CV looks like it was written in the 90’s right now.” (This is mine.)

➤ Benefit statements: spread throughout your CV should be statements about how you made a difference, how you improved something, built something, turned something around. Employers are looking for someone who is active, effective.

➤ Specific details and statistics: you can say –

“Achievement: implemented a system to improve end of month invoicing.”

OR you can rather say:

“Faced a backlog of 3 months’ invoicing. Devised a plan which collected R3m in outstanding debt and introduced a system which prevented future invoice problems – all within the first 30 days.”

More interesting, right? More interest, more attention.

➤ Social proof: if your former client sent you an email saying –

“Joe, you’ve been amazing in sorting this mess out. We were about to move to another supplier. You’ve restored our faith! Don’t ever leave, please!”

Why not include that in your CV? It helps convince any reader that you truly are an asset and make a difference.

➤ Make it clear you are a problem solver. Include examples of problems you solve. Think of examples a future employer may be having. Include examples that show how you solve these.

I hope this helps? I’m here for you, if you have a question. Reach out if you need help.

Adding a Course to Your CV? Here’s How to Make it Work For You.

👉 HAVE YOU JUST COMPLETED A NEW COURSE? Here’s how to make it work for you on your CV. Below is a comment I posted on Eddie’s LinkedIn profile where he posted that he’d completed an MS Excel VBA Programming course. He is a financial manager.

A good technique now, Eddie van Dyk, is to be able to explain how this new course / skill gained can translate into benefits in your job.

➤ What does Excel VBA programming allow you to do? Can you now produce a report faster? Can you extract financial insights better? Can you make a complicated process simpler?

➤ And how will these then lead to you serving the CFO and Exco better? Or how will the new skill help the department meet targets more easily?

On your CV, under where you list the certificate, just put a one-liner about the above. This way, whoever reads your CV gets the message that you’re always trying to make yourself more useful, more valuable. You’re not just a butt on a seat. You want to contribute and make things better.

Most people just say “Strengths: Hard-Working, Adding Value…” on their CV. No-one believes it or pays it any attention. Do it the way I describe above and it’s much more believable.

Start Your CV with a Future-Focussed Bang

👉 MAKE YOUR CV FUTURE FOCUSSED – you want to appeal to the NEXT employer, not just dumping your past on them. You want to give them what THEY’RE looking for. Here’s 1 easier way to do this (easier than spending hours overhauling your entire CV for every job you apply for):

Start your CV with a “Summary” and tailor it to match the job advert. Here’s a job advert, followed by the kind of summary I’m recommending.

➤ Sample job ad: “Management Accountant. Opportunity for a CIMA qualified management accountant with 5 years experience in the manufacturing sector. The position is focussed strongly on materials costing, cost reductions, and reporting financial and production data to the Production Manager and Managing Director and Senior Management Team. BTech or BCom degree, Syspro skills an advantage. Boksburg area.”

➤ Here’s my recommendation (see the image below) – see how it checks the boxes in the advert? It also adds real results and statistics. All the best stuff. Right up front. It’s useful there. It’s hard to miss. It’s helpful to the reader. This is the kind of CV I try to write for my clients every day (usually a bit more modern in style, every CV is different). Hope this helps you today.

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Taking a Course? First Ask this Question.

👉 ARE YOU TAKING A COURSE? Courses are easy to take these days. Sometimes they’re free online. Others are big bucks. But here’s the real question. Will it help you in your job and career?

So ask yourself:

How will this course help me make a difference?

In other (and more) words:

➤ “When it comes to me slotting in to a company / business / organisation in a particular job – how will my taking this course, learning this ‘thing’, adding this skill – make me better at giving the employer what they want, and even more.”

The same applies to reading a book. Apply laser focus on how adding the knowledge will make you more valuable. Ask yourself obsessively, “how does this make me better at my job – what benefit does it produce in the end?”

Connect the dots between you and your knowledge and skills, and the business – it’s costs, profits, sales, revenue, reputation, market share, competitiveness, smooth running operations.

When I write my clients’ CVs and LinkedIn profiles, I’m always trying to do this. And what I notice is, is that my clients often don’t have this top of their mind to start with.

What Makes a Good CV?

What makes a good CV – you may have wondered about yours, right? So, do you want a kind of a ‘blueprint’? The whole job hunting and CV writing thing is so infuriating, right!? 😞

So, here, do this, step by step:

  • Check the job ad you’re applying to. Follow that script. The things that appear in the ad – they’re the priorities. They’re what needs to stand out in your CV.
  • Take note of how many years experience are required. What particular skills needed are mentioned? What technology skills are needed? What specialist knowledge is asked for?

What makes a good CV is when you align your CV with those things.

So, look at your CV. ➤ Is it aligned with the ad? ➤ Do the list of 5 or 10 requirements you see in the ad really jump out at you from your CV?

The fact is: you can have a fancy CV. You may have spent hours on it. It can be “ATS” friendly. But if you don’t immediately appear to be the 👉 exact solution 👈 the employer is looking for, it’ll be difficult to advance through the filtering process.

At the early stages of the hiring process, your CV is filtered by software. And by more junior staff. And often with a kind of ‘tick-box’ mentality. This means that unless you tick all the boxes, you’re out! You may be the best person for the job (by far)… but because you don’t have a degree, you’re out. You’re the best person for the job… but because you don’t know a certain software package (that can be learned in a few hours)… you’re out.

It’s ridiculous. But it’s the way it is 😞. Aligning your CV however is something you have control over. When you ask: “what makes a good CV”? The above is a big part of the answer.

Need help: let’s chat about the problems you’re having. Let’s get on a call for 10 minutes and I’ll give you some advice. It could be helpful. Whatsapp me on +27 83 744 5454.

CV Success… but with a warning

Just got this from a professional CV writing client:

“Gerard, all I can say is that the last 3 times my CV was done by you ,
I landed cool jobs! Thanks for all your help!”

Nice. But there’s a WARNING. Job hunting is complicated. There are so many factors that have to come together to make them choose you. A lot of it is out of your control. A great CV can do great things. But it doesn’t always. Enlist a professional CV writer, and it’ll definitely help you. But there’s more to it than just that.

Zoom Interview? Go for Broke.

“I have an interview next week!” my client said. “It’s on Zoom. How do I make the most of it??” So, here’s what I said.

Well, first, what I didn’t tell him – I should have – was this: be neat, be organised, have your tech act together – test it, be sure it’s working – be well groomed, don’t have an skew or ugly picture on the wall behind you, sit up straight, position your camera so that you’re in the upper centre of the picture, look at the camera when you’re speaking (not at yourself), have your docs ready on your clean and clear desktop.

Now, the client is in sales. And the position he’s applying for is in a totally new industry in which he has interest only, not experience.

So, first I told him this (some of it you may find useful in principle):

1) Spend the next week getting to know the company products and the company itself.

What are the products? Who uses them?  Why do they like them? What problems have they had, what complaints (Google it)? What are the competitor products? What are the goals and values of the company?

Speak to company clients (seriously – you’re doing some ‘market research’, just be straight: you’re prepping for an interview): How would they rate the company service? When last did they get a visit from the sales rep? What problems do they foresee with the products in the future? What could be improved?

2) Then, I told him this: formulate a 3-month business plan.

What’s the goal of the job? What are the key things that need to be done to achieve it? What obstacles are there? How would you deal with them? What would your goal be for month 1, month 2?

In the interview itself, just at the point where the small talk and ice-breakers are tailing off, you want to ask: “right, so within the first 3 months, what do you want to see from the person you hire?” If they manage to get a question like “tell me about yourself?” in, answer it with some filler in 30 seconds, and then ask the above question.

If they “um” and “err”, tell them straight: “I’ve done some research. And I’ve formulated a 3 month business plan. Can I present it to you, real quick? Present it. And end off by saying, “those are my ideas… no doubt you have your expectations and ways of doing things… but I thought I’d just demonstrate to you that I like to get stuck in and make things happen.” And then if you have real spirit, ask this: “okay, what else do I need to do to get an offer from you? what else would you like to know?”

How this fits with the D [IS] R U2 PT principles:

This approach fits with the “D” of my D [IS] R U2 PT job search principles. “D” stands for DISRUPT – yes, differentiate yourself, do what no-one else will do, shake up the traditional approach. Don’t be like a typical job hunter: a deer staring into the headlights, frozen, sitting silent, waiting for the tough, awkward questions, never really coming out and saying: “hire me, here’s why”.

But of course, no one approach works all the time. So, why not just go for broke?

Hopefully this helps you get better results – ie more job interviews, more job offers, more often.


You know Steve Martin as an actor. But he has another side. Check it out here:

“Mood is Your Greatest Asset,” he Said

“Mood is your greatest asset.” True or False? In your job search – as in most things in life – that’s true. You may have skills. Degrees. Profound knowledge. But if you’re down on yourself, pessimistic; if you find yourself always looking for why something ‘won’t work’… then your results will be poor.

Hard to keep it upbeat, though, right? Lockdown. The economy. Here’s what you need: creative ideas. Fresh thinking on where job opportunities may exist. Fresh ideas on how to present yourself, what to say, how to say it. A fresh feeling of confidence and boldness – the courage to do what you gotta do to get yourself out of a hole.

Here’s ssomething to help you. See attached. It’s something written by John Kehoe (the “Mind Power” guy). With my added comments, specially for job hunters (lookout for the bit about pitbulls biting your bum! and the global conspiracy to keep YOU – yes, YOU – out of work.

Next week, I’ll be analysing my CV writing principles. It’s called the [D IS R U2 PT]. It’s meant to help you shake things up. And get better results – ie more job interviews, more job offers, more often.

Adam Leipzig – “How to know your life purpose in under 2 minutes.” Ignore the clickbait title. BUT. It’s still an incredibly useful video. In under 2 minutes. Better title: “How to articulate what you do in a clear, compelling way” – useful for job interviews, CVs and LinkedIn profiles.

[Job Search Success Newsletter | June 18 2020]

Free CV Review Online – the “CRO”

Hey, perhaps you’re interested in a free CV review online because you just want to make sure? You want to know that you’ve built your CV ‘proper’ and it’s gonna work?!

Okay, so if that’s what you need, great! It’s a good idea to consider the following points – you’ll find more tools and detail over here, but these are the foundation principles as a quick-check.

I call it the “CRO” – use it you’ll have to eat it!

Here’s Your Free CV Review Online:

Review each point. Compare your CV. Learn. Adapt.

1 Keep it short – 2 pages perhaps? Short is confident. Short is easy to read and absorb. Chop older experience, summarise it.

2 Name it with your sought job title: “Joe Soap – Sales Rep Achieves Targets”. Yes, add some zing! Or just “Jack Soap – Senior Accountant”. Clear focus is important to the reader.

3 Be relevant. Immediately. State clearly at the top what job you fill, what your profession is. State your credibility immediately: years of experience, key qualifications, key outcomes you achieve. The reader must immediately see where you fit in.

4 Under your job history, use an easily recognizable and understandable job title. Give a quick 2 line summary of what you cared for and what outcomes you were responsible for.

5 Don’t include long lists of ‘duties and responsibilities’. Make it 3 or 4 lines only. Concentrate it on critical items only.

6 Be very sure to focus on how you fixed things, what goals you achieved, what problems you solved. “Here was the problem / here’s what I did to solve it / here’s the result we got.” Be specific, include statistics!

7 Eliminate long paragraphs. Chop them down to 2 or 3 lines at the most. These are more easily digestible. Easier to read.

8 Did your CEO, MD or senior manager say: “Joe (you!) does great work, he really made a difference!” Include that quote in the CV! A CV must build trust. This is one way to do it.

9 Have you made any stupid mistakes?? Spelling? Grammar? Do your best to clean things up. It shows something about you.

10 Keep focus on recent work. Start with your latest position.

How did you do on your free CV review online, here at wowcv.net?

Still confused, unsure about your CV? This stuff can really make you tear your hair out!! If you’re still struggling, send your CV to me, perhaps we can have a chat about ways to improve?

Also see the dedicated page: CV Check Online for more details on all of the above. Hope this helps!


PS ALSO link with me on Facebook: www.FB.com/kickassjobsearch



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