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CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile: What matters most in 2020?

Published: Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Filling in countless applications takes up so much time that job seekers are always looking for ways of trimming down this process to save time and maximise the number of positions they can apply for. In the current uncertainty of the post-pandemic economy there will be even more competition for fewer vacancies, so how do you know where to focus your attention? Do you spend time on a killer CV? Do you put in the legwork on your LinkedIn profile? Do you devote hours to tweaking your covering letter?

Do you really need to spend time on all three of these? Are they all of equal value? Let’s break it down:

The CV

You would be forgiven for thinking that CVs are obsolete, but you would be wrong. Even if sites like LinkedIn and your LinkedIn profile are gaining traction, you still need a great CV that emphasises the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job you are applying for. You can’t just rely on one version of your CV to trot out to every job. It might be time-consuming but you really are going to have to tailor your CV to the particular job you are going for. Look at the advert and pick out the key words that relate to expertise they are looking for. Make sure you mirror these in your CV.

Shot of beautiful young woman thinking about future career move, job hunting.

So, for example, if an advert says they require someone who has a ‘proven interest and experience in using digital media’ you need to make sure that you have got clear examples of this in your CV. Make it easy for them to shortlist you. You can also make sure that you tweak your personal statement for each job you apply for so it is absolutely clear why you want to work for that particular organisation.

The cover letter

You’ve tailored your CV, painstakingly raking through it to make sure you have covered all the areas the job ad is looking for. Surely you don’t need a cover letter too? Of course, not all adverts call for a cover letter so you need to make sure that you have read the advert carefully. If an advert does require one, again you need to make sure that you link it to the job advert by using keywords mentioned in the text. You should go through all of the criteria in the job spec and make sure that you provide examples for each.

Even if a cover letter isn’t required, you might still do well to send one anyway. It can be an opportunity to explain why you want to join their company or explain any gaps in employment history.

Man holding iPad Pro with social network service LinkedIn

The LinkedIn profile

An engaging and regularly updated LinkedIn profile can be a great boost for your job search and can help you get noticed by recruiters. More and more job adverts will ask you to provide a link to your profile when you apply. The LinkedIn profile should complement your CV, but they perform different functions and will be used by the recruiter at different points in the application process.

It might be the case that some recruiters see your LinkedIn before they even look at your CV or vice versa. At some point though, most recruiters will scrutinise both your LinkedIn and your CV, so you need to make sure both of them showcase your best experience, are free from errors, and make it easy for potential employers to see you as a good fit for their business.

Crafting a strong LinkedIn profile

If you nail down a strong LinkedIn profile, you can increase your chances of being approached by recruiters rather than you having to actively apply for jobs. You can boost your profile in the following ways:

Charming young man typing on laptop in office

  • Have a clear and professional photo.
  • Make sure your headline accurately reflects your specialism.
  • Share and engage with content relevant to your industry.
  • Create blog posts and updates on a regular basis to share your insights.
  • Get recommendations and endorsements from those you have worked with previously.

The short answer, of course, is all these three things are important. There is no getting away from the fact that applying for jobs can be an onerous and time-consuming task, but you will cut down the amount of jobs you have to apply for if you put the work into these three areas up-front.

If you are tempted to skimp on your CV or put forward a lackluster covering letter, it will save you time in the short term, but this will be far outweighed by the time you will lose applying for even more jobs. You have much more chance of getting the first job you apply for if you put the effort in up front.

Authorbio: At PurpleCV our mission is to help as many people as possible get over the first hurdle of applying for a job. We truly believe that a great CV opens doors for people, whatever their profession. Since 2013 we’ve made it our priority to ensure that no matter what industry or seniority, whoever comes to us looking for a CV leaves with exactly what they’re looking for.

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