Your CV is your chance to give potential employers and recruiters an insight into you, your skills and your experience. It’s your place to shout about the amazing things you’ve achieved and show them you’d be a great match for the job.
However, recruiters and hiring managers receive more CVs for each job opening than they need so it’s important to make a big impact in little time. In some instances, you barely have six seconds to catch the eye of a potential employer!
Spending time up front on your CV to make it shine can really reap rewards. As your skills and experience grow over time, you’ll want to update your CV in real time in case a job opportunity comes out of nowhere and you need to urgently apply. If you haven’t looked at it for years, it’s easy to forget what you’ve achieved and without keeping it updated regularly, you could easily leave out a key achievement and unwittingly lose out on your next step.
Why are CVs still so important?
Today, many workers also use professional social media channels to show off their skills, the debate around CVs and their relevance has become more heated. However, there is a reason they remain the go-to for so many: their universal format.
The simple nature of a list of all your key bits of personal information and work accomplishments makes it easy for both job-seekers and recruiters to quickly and clearly communicate necessary information. A CV also gives workers an opportunity to reflect on their achievements and consider critically what they have and haven’t enjoyed from their past working experiences. Its capacity to afford a degree of personal reflection can be invaluable, especially for people who don’t regularly do so as part of professional reviews.
The key to making your CV stand out is simplicity and knowing exactly who you’re trying to make it appeal to. Here are some tips:
Your CV is a summary, not a comprehensive list of every achievement you’ve ever made. Keep it to a maximum of two pages, consider including only your highest levels of education and offer your references on request rather than listing all of their contact details up front. This will look a lot neater, make the overall CV appear more appealing to the eye and give the person reading it the information they’re looking for quickly.
If you send the same CV for every job application, you’ll struggle to stand out. Instead, pick out specific parts of the job description that you feel reflect your skills and talk specifically about them – try mirroring the language used in the job description to catch the hiring manager’s eye. It’s also a good idea to highlight your most relevant work experience nearer the top of your work experience section.
As well as showcasing your technical skills, make sure you include your transferable skills, too Highly prized by managers, they follow you from role to role and are the basics for effective teams. Soft skills like initiative, positive attitude, and analytical thinking are oftentimes preferred by managers who feel as long as they have a person with the right mindset, they can teach the technical side of the job.
Read through it once, twice, three times – and then again. Some employers won’t even consider a CV if it has errors or grammatical mistakes. If you’re not overly confident, you could install a free plug-in, like Grammarly, to your browser, and read it out loud to see how it sounds. It’s also a good idea to ask a friend, family or trusted former colleague to give it a sense check for you.
Even the most impressive CV can quickly go out of date. It takes some dedication, but your future-self will thank you for sitting down every six months or so to update it. Look back at recent projects or new experiences, and add a bullet point here and there. It’s much easier to document it while it’s fresh in your mind rather than rushing the day before a job is due.