Having just completed free CV reviews for six jobseekers, I am sharing the five biggest improvements I recommended to them to empower their CVs.
Here’s how you can be confident that you’re communicating all the right things to make sure it’s YOUR CV that ends up on the shortlist.
Presentation – keep it simple
- The only colours in your CV should be black text on a white background. You may be very fond of magenta, but there’s no place for it here!
- Use only one font for the whole CV. Times New Roman is now viewed as old fashioned so choose a font which is modern and clear such as Ariel or Calibri.
- You can use two different size fonts, but not more. Use an 11 or 12 font for the main body of text and a 14 for the main heading which should be your name.
- No boxes, shading or graphics. Remember that your CV could be read by a piece of software called an Applicant Tracking System before a human being, and it may not be able to read graphics of any description.
- The CV should contain lots of white space and consistent formatting for maximum impact.
The only exception to this is if you work in a creative occupation, where you’ll be expected to give full rein to your imagination and inventiveness!
How long should your CV be ?
- I reviewed CVs that were up to five pages long – much too long! Your CV should ideally be two pages, or an absolute maximum of three pages long.
- The main way you can cut down the length is to shorten your employment history to include the last 10-15 years only. Dedicate the most space to your most recent employment. If you want to refer to previous employment do it briefly with a statement such as :
‘Previous employment included administrative and customer facing roles in the retail sector.’
Information – what to include
- Include your LinkedIn URL in your contact details. If the recruiter is interested in your CV, the next thing they will want to do is look at your LinkedIn profile.
- After your name and contact details the next section needs to be a short personal profile, up to four sentences long. It should summarise your main experience and skills, written in the third person.
e.g. ‘A self motivated Administrator with over 7 years’ experience of working in the finance industry, used dealing with orders within tight deadlines. Possesses well developed interpersonal skills from dealing with internal departments, external customers and suppliers. Is helpful, supportive and an asset to any team or organisation.’
- This is followed by a Key Skills section – six or seven bullet points of the main skills you have that are relevant to the job
- It’s very important to include your achievements so that your CV doesn’t just read like a job description blandly describing your duties and responsibilities.
Achievements are specific and stand out tasks you completed. They often include metrics, and demonstrate how you have gone beyond your normal duties and used your initiative to give exceptional performance. They give the recruiter a much better idea as to what you are really capable of and how well you performed in your previous jobs.
Examples of achievements :
‘Reorganisation of the sales department along with a complete restructure of customer service , resulting in a 20% reduction in operating costs’
‘Consistently achieved in excess of 200% of annual target revenue’
‘Recipient of ‘Investment Pages’ Top New Business Performer in last 3 years’
Information – what not to include
- Information such as date of birth, marital status and nationality are no longer included
- The CV is now headed with your name (first and surname only) not Curriculum Vitae
- No need to include your reason for leaving a particular job
Get the right order
The right order is:
- Name and contact details
- Personal Profile
- Key Skills
- Employment History
- Education and Training
- Personal Details which includes other relevant information: such as interests, languages, and if you are a car driver and owner.
However, if you have been working for less than 3 years, your Education and Training section comes before your Employment History.
Bringing it all together, your CV needs to be to the point, well presented, demonstrating your skills, attributes and achievements in the most impactful way.
Make sure it’s YOUR CV that ends up in front of the recruiter and not in the rejection bin!
For more information on my services please contact me for availability and further details.