Your CV is your primary tool to sell what you have to offer and convince an employer you’re the person they’re looking for. In a competitive career market, it’s more important than ever for your CV to stand out clearly from the crowd of other applicants. Here are some top tips to improve your CV and get recruiters to put it on the ‘yes’ pile ahead of other candidates.
1. Focus on Quality
- The first thing to take into consideration is the length of your CV. Aim for 2 pages, 3 at the most if you have many years experience. Spend time thinking very carefully about what you want to put in your CV.
- If your CV is too short, it’s unlikely that it’ll include enough information for a potential employer to get a good understanding of your skills and experience. A list of your jobs without any details of your key responsibilities and achievements won’t help the recruiter to know that you’re a good fit for their role.
- If your CV is too long, it’ll make it much harder for the person reading it to pull out the key points you want them to know. If a recruiter has to work to understand what you’re trying to tell them, then they’re likely to stop reading and put your CV on the “no” pile. The information that you decide to leave out is almost as important as what you put in.
- Identify the skills and experience that are required for the jobs you’re interested in. Really focusing on those will improve the quality of your CV. You should aim to tailor your CV so you show that you meet the specifications of each job you apply for.
2. Your CV: Why You’re Unique
- We’re all different and bring different things to a job. You may do the same work as another person, but you’ll both bring different experiences and personality to it. Use your CV as a tool to sell to a potential employer what it is that makes you unique.
- Your Personal Profile should summarise this and set the context for the recruiter as they read the rest of your CV. Think about what you would tell someone you didn’t know if you were having a quick chat. It’ll help you really clarify what you have to offer.
3. Add Learning to Your CV
- The past 3 years have brought challenges and opportunities. You might have considered a change of direction in your career and signed up for a training course. You could be volunteering to help with a community project. Maybe you’ve taken up a hobby that you’d been meaning to do for years.
- Whatever you’ve spent your time doing, make sure that your CV reflects any new skills or experience that you’ve gained. Think about how these could be relevant to the types of roles that you want to apply for, and therefore will be attractive to a potential employer.
4. Transferable Skills
- Roles in certain sectors are declining while there are new roles and sectors that are growing. Being able to identify your transferable skills, especially if you are making a career change, is therefore more important than ever. Make sure you include relevant skills clearly in your CV so potential employers can see what you have to offer.
- Don’t dismiss your life skills. Think as broadly as you can about skills from family life, through voluntary work, or even from your hobbies. For example, if you play a team sport, you are literally demonstrating that you’re a team player!
- Think about the way you define yourself. When describing themselves, most people will talk in terms of their job titles. People will say ‘I’m a chef’, or ‘I’m an accountant’. Rather than thinking in that very restricted way, by changing your mindset, you can change the way you define yourself. For example, ‘I have time management skills’, ‘I’m able to manage staff in a pressurised environment’, or ‘I have financial management skills’. These are the types of transferable skills you can take with you into any role.
- It’s important your CV is set out in a way that makes it easy to read and highlights key information.
- There are 2 main formats. The traditional format lists your career experience chronologically, starting with your most recent role. The other is a skills-based CV where key skills and achievements relating to the role you’re applying for are featured on the front page. This is a good format to use if you’re changing career and want to show your transferable skills to an employer.
- Whichever format you choose, clearly set out each section. Using headings and bullet points will also make it much easier to read, and show the employer you have the relevant skills they are looking for.