How to improve your CV
Grammar errors and poor spelling are the obvious mistakes made on a CV, but less noticeable blunders could also be costing you the next big step in your career. How do you find the right balance between keeping it concise and including extra detail that could impress and win you an interview? (It may be unwelcome news to hear that after five years in employment, it’s probably time to lose your GCSE results.)
While the details might still pull at your own nostalgic heart strings, it’s likely your new employer won’t need to know. In fact, it would probably be safe to assume they’ll spend no more than five minutes assessing your CV. So what are the Top Six faux-pas in the world of CV writing?
Your CV should be tailored to each and every role you apply for. Look at the job description of the available role, and take the time to draw out each of your previous role responsibilities that match. It might even be worth creating a ‘Relevant Experience’ sub section at the top of your CV, using it to highlight the skills, experience and achievements relevant to the role. Make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to make a positive decision quickly.
2. Excluding your personal interests
This may come as a surprise to some, but employers do want to know what makes you tick. It might create a great ice breaker in an interview, as well as help them begin to paint a picture of your character and whether you might make a good cultural fit. Hobbies, travel and volunteer work are well worth including, either in a Personal Interests sub section or via any extended gaps in your work experience.
3. Excluding your achievements
We see a lot of CVs that simply note role responsibilities and skills, but that doesn’t tell us how good you really are at the job! If you’re an Office Manager, for example, and part of your position includes the purchasing of office supplies, follow this up with a related achievement such as ‘reduced business spend by 20% over 3 year period through effective supplier management’. It shows initiative, the figures demonstrate credibility, and the facts prove you’re good at your job.
4. Not proof reading
Even the best writers rely on sub-editors, editors and proof readers to help perfect and polish the finished product. This one document could be one of the most important in your life; at minimum it could be life-changing. Ensure you give to a trusted pair of eyes who will pick up on any errant typos.
5. How many pages?
There’s a fine line between keeping it concise, and including the relevant details. Realistically, many employers will skim-read so it pays to be succinct and to the point. If you’re a graduate, it probably makes sense to keep it to one page. Otherwise, keep it to no more than two A4 pages, portrait-view. Be ruthless in your selection of any unnecessary words and phrases, and test with different font sizes until it fits.
6. Being modest
Your CV is not the place for modesty. Use language that self-promotes and is confident in its tone. If you’re not assured of your own set of skills, why would a potential employer choose to hire you? And, if you think it might be well-received, try making a quick video on your smart phone as an accompanying ‘cover letter’ to really stand out from the crowd.
When all is said and done, a CV is a personal and unique document so feel free to use these points as your own rough guide to what works for YOU. At the end of the day it’s about representing you to your best advantage. If you need some more advice please contact us and we will be happy to help.