Whether you’re currently in the market for a new job or not, it’s always worthwhile having an up-to-date CV to hand that will help you stand out from the crowd.
An effective and memorable CV can be achieved by following these three stages:
1. Make sure your existing skills and experience are presented in a clear, succinct manner
2. Update any new roles and skills - including any volunteering help or digital learning
3. Boost your employability
De-clutter the content
Most people try to keep their CV down to two pages long, but this becomes increasingly difficult after several roles and an abundance of skills – deciding what to cut out quickly turns into a bit of a nightmare. If you’re looking for more space try to condense down old skills and qualifications. Listing all your GCSE’s or breaking down each university module becomes less important the further you progress through your career. Aim to keep educational work to a two-line maximum.
If you’ve been working for more than 15 years, condense down or remove completely any work prior to this. Qualifications for things that are no longer relevant (such as out-of-date first aid certificates) can also be ditched. And that summer shop work or time you spent interning at your local newspaper 20 years ago may no longer be relevant.
The easiest option when trying to decide what to delete from your CV would be any personal interests and hobbies – after all, being a keen baker or helping out in a charity shop in your spare time won’t necessarily correlate with the skills needed for your dream role. However, future employers will want to see that you do have a life outside of work, as this will give them a sense of your personality and whether they feel you’ll be right for the team.
If you’re really struggling for space, try condensing down your personal attributes, but never remove them completely.
Dump the clichés
You might be a dynamic problem solver with excellent team-leadership skills, but so is everyone else who’s applying for the role. To stand out from the crowd banish the clichés – this will eliminate the waffle from your CV and make your skills and achievements really stand out. If you must use clichés, don’t overdo it.
Don’t waste important space
Just like the top fold of a newspaper, the top third of your CV is where the most important stuff should go. If an employer is reading your C.V. electronically this is the section they’ll see before deciding whether to scroll further down, so stay clear of filling it with your name and address in size 20 font – this space needs to be optimised for selling yourself, so don’t waste it.
Fill in the gaps
Just as you might be brushing aside old skills, you also need to look at adding in the new ones. Even if you’re content in your current role it’s important to add these new skills to your CV as you gain them – this will save you time and stress if/when you come to look for a new job.
Revisiting old jobs might jog your memory of skills you may have acquired but not used lately. Make sure to highlight any that may not be relevant to the next role you apply for.
Beef yourself up
Don’t say, do. It’s easy enough to say you’re a great problem solver but this needs backing up with prime examples. These examples will prove to a potential new employer what you could actually bring to their company, as well as give you something concrete to talk about at the interview stage. Backing up your achievements with statistics and figures will make them more comprehendible to the reader.
Check, check and check again
Every time you add something new to your CV you increase the chance of making a mistake. Proofread the document at least twice before sending it out (or saving it away for the future) and, if possible, get someone else to cast their eyes over it – two eyes are better than one!