If you haven’t updated your CV for some time, you may need to give it a complete overhaul before you start applying for new opportunities. Or perhaps you’ve been applying for roles with your usual CV but aren’t getting any interviews. If so, the following tips could give you a better chance of success.
- Make sure the content is up to date. It’s important that the information you give is current, focusing on the most relevant skills and experience. Ensure that any gaps in your work history are accounted for, and start with the most recent information. If you’re looking for a graduate role, focus on what your degree has taught you. If you’re looking for a role in a particular industry, highlight previous roles that could provide a stepping stone to this opportunity.
- Use the job description. It’s vital that your CV is tailored to each role you apply for. Think about what the employer is looking for in a potential candidate. Does your CV tick the right boxes? Ensure that all the essential criteria – for example a professional qualification or two years working in a particular industry – are clearly displayed. You may need to be more creative if the criteria is vague. For example, if they’re looking for an ‘ambitious person’, explain how you set up a society at university or undertook additional training in your spare time. You can even use your interests to demonstrate personal qualities if your experience is limited. Maybe you coach a local football team, have set up a fundraising website or teach English as a second language to foreign students at your church. List these achievements and explain how they demonstrate your suitability for the role. You can do this in an initial opening statement or in a hobbies and interests section if you choose to include one.
- Freshen up the format. Did you know that 50% of hiring managers believe presentation is the most important consideration for a CV? There’s no set winning formula, so it may be worth playing around with the format to see what works best. It may also be worth using a CV template or asking a careers expert for help. Always use a black font that is clear and easy to read. Bullet points are a good way to condense long passages of text. Double spaces between sentences will show your age, while pictures and text boxes will make your CV look dated, so get rid of those. Keep it fresh and simple, and limit your CV to a maximum of two pages. You can expand on it in your cover letter, so stick to the key details. Make sure your contact information is up to date so that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.
When you’re done, check that your CV provides a powerful sales pitch. Would you employ someone with the CV you have come up with? Is it concise and informative? Is it all true? Ask someone you trust to give feedback and check for any typos or grammar issues. Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to work on your cover letter!