The call to action has been a tried and tested sales technique for centuries, if not since we humans started bartering with one another. It invites the reader to ‘act now’ and clearly signposts what’s expected of them. But what does that have to do with your CV?
Essentially, your CV and cover letter are sales documents designed to help you market yourself, sell your services and stand out from the competition. Like all effective marketing tools, a strong call to action may be the difference between whether the customer (in this case, your potential employer) contacts you again or turns their attention elsewhere, i.e. another applicant.
Why a call to action matters
When we think about the purpose of a CV, it’s usually to get you that all-important job interview so that you can meet face-to-face with a would-be employer and sell the benefits of employing you.
By adding a call to action to your CV or cover letter, you can summarise why you’re writing and that you are looking forward to being contacted about the position, plus it gives the recruiter a clear guide to what they need to do next. It might seem obvious, especially if you’re contacting them about a specific job, but they’ll still appreciate you making the process easier for them.
Creating a strong call to action
You can have a great CV or cover letter and then dash your chances of interview right at the end by finishing with a weak call to action or, worse yet, none at all.
In our experience, a weak call to action at the end of a cover letter might read: “I hope you will look at my CV favourably and consider me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Why is this weak? The call to action above doesn’t state what you would expect to happen next or give any kind of time frame. It leaves everything in the recruiter’s hands and frankly sounds like you can take or leave the opportunity of an interview, which is not what you want to convey, especially when applying for your dream job.
So, what does make a good call to action? Your purpose in writing is to be invited to interview. It’s OK to come right out and ask for that.
A strong call to action would be: “I look forward to speaking with you personally to discuss your specific needs and my ability to meet them. Thank you so much for this opportunity. If you require any additional information, I can be contacted at the phone numbers listed above.”
What makes this stronger? The enthusiasm comes across loud and clear in this call to action. It also suggests a face-to-face interview as the next step and gives the recruiter a clear signpost to find out more information about the candidate.
Other calls to action that work well include inviting the potential employer to view your LinkedIn profile (great if you’ve got lots of recommendations and portfolio/project examples) or asking them to check out company websites via hyperlinks in your cover letter.
You may wish to say: “As any CV has its limitations in the amount of information it can convey, it would be great to meet in person. If you need additional facts before arranging an interview, please visit my LinkedIn profile here, or call me on XXXX XXXXX. I’ll email you next week to see when we can explore specifics.”
Of course, if you say you’re going to follow-up within a set time frame, make sure you’re true to your word.
Use action words throughout your CV
Your call to action shouldn’t be the only place you use dynamic, action-focused language in your CV. In fact, there should be action words throughout. Words such as accomplished, achieved, converted, created, delivered, demonstrated, expanded, generated, implemented, improved, increased, launched, led, revitalised, strengthened, transformed and won all demonstrate actions you’ve taken in the workplace, as well as the intrinsic values of these actions to the organisation.
Again, this goes back to the concept of your CV as a marketing tool. A potential employer wants to see the benefits of hiring you, the positive impact you will make on their organisation and why hiring you over another candidate is in everyone’s interests.
So, don’t be shy. Take the initiative and add a clear call to action to your CV or cover letter (we favour the latter) to boost your chances of securing an interview.