When was the last time you looked at your CV? Most of us forget about it once we are comfortably employed and only a very few keep it updated. The truth is that the past year has seen a lot of change and has sent many to dig up their CV as they have seen a decline in their industry or simply felt it was time to move on. Writing or even updating a CV can take time, especially if left unattended for a while. Research shows that if you apply for a job in the first 24 hours you have a greater chance to get noticed, so don’t let an outdated CV make you miss out on a great opportunity.
When an employer spends under a minute on the CVs he / she receives then you know that it is essential for your CV to make an impact upon receipt. This is a situation where looks really do count! If your CV has been on a shelf gathering dust for the past decade (or less or more), it simply won’t do to blow the dust off, add a couple of lines including your latest achievements and send it off with fingers crossed. The message that the recruiter will receive is, quite clearly, that you couldn’t be all that bothered. It will show lack of interest and give the impression that you are not bothered about keeping up with the trends. Yes, all this in just a few seconds.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that listing your achievements and qualifications is enough to grab the recruiter’s attention. Competition is tough, times have changed and the way your CV is presented gives away more than you think. So read on to find some quick and easy ways to spruce up your CV and get ready to receive that call!
Font and Format
Take a look at your CV. If you were to receive a CV like this would it engage you? Start off with something super easy – change the font and use one of the more modern ones. This will instantly give it a fresher and more modern look. Of course, do not use unprofessional fonts or fonts that are too fancy – calibri or arial work well. Other than the font, check the spacing. If it is cluttered with text or if the paragraphs are too long, then it will not entice the hiring manager to read it. True, you may have achieved a lot over the years and gained valuable experience, but it must be easy to read. Guide the reader with bullets and headings and keep it as brief as possible. In fact, it should be no longer than two pages.
Finally, is it visually pleasing? Some colour could help make it more attractive and personalised, but again keep it professional. If you had used a Europass CV you might want to think about changing it. Whilst, some employers do request Europass, others find it mundane and unexciting. If you’re unsure about what your (hopefully) future employer prefers then you could also send both.
Since space on a CV is limited, then use language to make an impact. Short and sweet is usually the best way to go, and be sure to use language that shows a sense of certainty and self-belief. Remove any ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ or ‘maybes’ and do not downplay your skills by saying ‘quite’ or ‘a little’. Your CV is where you need to sell yourself and confidence, (but not arrogance), is attractive.
Besides that, make sure that the terminology you are using is not outdated. For example, saying that you are proficient in standard office technology such as Microsoft Office shows that you are out of touch. Brush up on your tech terminology, and any terminology relating to the field you are applying in, to make the right impression. Using the appropriate keywords, acronyms and buzzwords related to the industry will highlight your expertise and your experience in the sector.
You will obviously need to update this bit with your achievements over the past years – these need to be your main focus. If you can include stats to prove your successes then your CV will be all the more impressive. Numbers speak louder than words here. If you have an Interests section you can remove it, unless your interests are particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. Also, in your Education section you do not need to list your grades. Your school, University and major are enough. Save the space for your accomplishments and credentials as those are what will get your foot in the door.
Besides that, you can give the CV a quick revamp by changing a few things. Remove your home address, your age, your nationality and your marital status, and make sure that you have a personal email address. You can also include links to your social media pages, but be sure that whatever the hiring manager will see there will work in your favour! Finally, do not mention any references – if an employer needs them he / she will ask for them. Remove any outdated skills that you may have listed and replace them with your more recently acquired ones.
It might mean a bit more work, especially if you are applying for different jobs, but tailor-making your CV to the job description is key and will definitely earn you points. Remove whatever is not relevant for the job you are applying for and highlight what is.
For example, take notice of what the job description gave more importance to and follow their lead. Also, use the same terminology – when a hiring manager scans a CV these are the words that will pop out. Finally, do not list every job that you have ever had. Stick to the ones which could be of interest and to those which underline your value for this particular job.
Keep a file
Ideally of course you should revisit your CV every so often and not wait until you really need it to update it. Experts recommend keeping a file where you could roughly list your accomplishments, awards and successes as they happen. This makes it easier to update your CV as you would just pick what would be relevant and insert it. Remember that when a job opportunity presents itself, timing is key.