As we enter the new year, many of us will be seeking development in our careers. For a large portion of us, this often means having to move on from the company that you’re currently at. Improving your CV, especially if you’ve been with the same company for many years, can be a daunting process.
As recruiters, because we go through an array of CVs in varying quality, we’re pretty well placed to give you some expert advice on how to develop yours to help you land the interview. Continue on for our best tips and advice.
Before even reading any of the content in the CV, the layout is the first thing that a recruiter or a hiring manager will notice; and the style you choose to go for makes a big difference in whether or not they will read on. There should be a clear structure with bold headings (avoid underlining text!) so that the reader can quickly qualify you as a suitable candidate. Consider your use of blank space too. If you go for too much, it either looks like you don’t have enough experience, or that you haven’t taken the time to work on your CV. However, too little white space leaves you with a wall of text that’s going to put off the reader.
Consider how you can best make use of the space. Take the example below as a ‘how not to do it’. Wasting space like this could take you over the recommended maximum of two pages.
2. Don’t include any painfully obvious information
If you worked as a receptionist, it’s pretty evident that taking calls was part of your job. You don’t need to waste your time and space on your CV explaining all of your duties in the role. Where possible, make note of where you went above and beyond the required expectations of the job and made a positive impact as a result. Maybe you won employee of the month, or you developed a system that increased office productivity. Listing achievements and how you made a difference is what’s going to make someone interested in reading the rest of your story.
3. Keep your personal achievements and hobbies professional and relevant where possible
Enjoy reading? That’s great, but honestly, people don’t care. However, if you’re applying for a marketing job and can list off some relevant writers that inspire you, this shows that your interest in the field goes further than your 9-5. Even better, if you can use examples of where you’ve implemented something you’ve read from a marketing guru’s book and found success, this could prove you to be a real asset to the team.
Having hobbies is great as it shows you’re sociable not one dimensional. But being captain of the six a side team is unlikely to get you an interview. If you’re fortunate enough to get to the next stage, this is something that’s often discussed in interviews anyway.
4. Objectives are outdated, you do not need them
It’s extremely difficult to create an objective that’s truly authentic and doesn’t sound like fluff. Anyway, we all have the same objective in this scenario; get a job. Unless you’re specifically asked to include this, get rid. It takes up valuable space and adds little value.
5. Bullet points are your friend
Long, overly descriptive paragraphs are off-putting if you’re the reader of a CV. At the initial stage of a job application too, all that’s being looked for is that you have the relevant skills and experience for the vacancy. What this isn’t, is a test of your English language skills and how many verbs you can squeeze into a job description where two lines would suffice. Recruiters and hiring managers love bullet points because they can quickly tick off where your experience matches with the opening.
For example, if you’re a marketer instead of writing…
I managed the company website which required me to have an understanding of CRM systems, HTML as well as graphic design software to produce high-quality content. To create email campaigns, I made use of the internal CRM system and Mailchimp.
6. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be as perfect as possible
Even if the role you’re applying for doesn’t require you to do any writing whatsoever (unlikely), not getting this right can seriously affect your chances of getting an interview. Even if you don’t mean to, it can make your come across as careless. Getting this part of the CV right shows that you’re able to communicate well and that you care enough about the position to take the time to double check your CV.
If you need some help in getting this right, there’s a great free Google Chrome extension called Grammarly which auto checks spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You’ll just have to copy the written content into Google docs to get it checked.
7. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to CV writing
Every employer will have different ideas as to what they think the perfect CV looks like. All you can do is ensure yours is clear, concise and all of your experience is relevant to the role.
What this also means is that you shouldn’t just recycle the same CV for multiple companies. Different employers will value different things. Your CV is an opportunity to show how you and the company match up perfectly; it’s a chance to show you’ve done your research on the company as well as the role. You can do this by prioritizing keywords in your job descriptions and personal profile to link up to what’s in the job description, as well as include any personal interests and hobbies that match up to the company’s values.