If your CV hasn’t been getting you the results you want, now is the perfect time to give it a ‘clean’ and improve your chances of finding work or a new role.
As the CV is your first point of contact with a potential boss, it’s vital to make it as powerful as possible. You also want to make sure you stand out for the right reasons.
Taking a fresh approach will make your CV more likely to earn you that all-important interview. Here are our top tips to help you stand out.
Remember that less is more – two pages should be the absolute maximum. Hiring managers generally spend only 15–30 seconds reading through a CV during initial screening, so you don’t need to include your entire life story. Keep things short and to the point so the reader can get a good idea of your abilities quickly.
You want to make sure your layout is clean, logical and uncluttered. Make it easy for recruiters to find the essential information. Bullet points are always good, as are bold type and headings. Use a standard font like Times or Arial and keep the size between 11pt and 14pt. Avoid coloured or highlighted text as this will only distract readers and look unprofessional.
Your name and contact information should be right at the top, followed by your personal statement. Below that should be your work experience or, if you’re a recent graduate, your education information. Always list your most recent experience first and continue in reverse order from there.
If you want to be taken seriously, you need a professional email address. ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ may have looked fun at 21 but it won’t work in your favour now. The best format is a simple ‘email@example.com’. There are plenty of free email providers out there, so there’s no excuse for not making a new address if you need one.
Examine all the content on your CV and remove old or irrelevant roles. If you don’t want to leave gaps in your employment history, take out everything aside from the job title, company name and dates. The same can be said for education; if you’re a graduate, your degree is more important than your school qualifications.
Removing this clutter will give you space to focus on the important things, such as your achievements rather than just your duties. Try to quantify your accomplishments and include some figures to create extra impact.
Are you a driven individual? Hard-working? Detail-oriented? Great! But so is every other applicant you will be up against. Originality, relevance and personality are key. Clichés make you look lazy and unoriginal – two traits you want to avoid.
Whenever you update your CV, it’s always good to go through and make sure you didn’t make any glaring spelling or grammatical errors. Use spellcheck as you go along, then go back and double check things such as company names, awards, certifications, place names and acronyms. Remember also that spellcheck also won’t pick up properly spelled words that are still wrong in context; for example, you may have typed ‘from’ when you actually meant ‘form’.
Ask for feedback
Give your CV to friends or family for suggestions on what you could improve. Getting a fresh perspective will give you a better idea of how you will be perceived.