The CV is still the document employers will request when they are looking at you for a potential role. The other day I got asked for mine even though I’d been recruited for the contract. So even if you don’t go down a formal interview process, chances are someone at some point will ask for your cv. It’s a staple piece of your identity which helps you tick the boxes recruiters need. It eases the process for them and it’s required by HR for their files.
So, when was the last time you overhauled your CV? Are you ready to go if someone requests it tomorrow?
Here are my top tips for updating and creating a stand out CV;
Would you show up to the interview not looking polished and turned out in your best selected outfit? No of course not. So, take this view when you look at the design and layout for your CV. Over the years being on the receiving end of CVs, the ones I was drawn to first were the ones not overly creative, but which looked like they had been pulled together with care and attention. Easy to read, formatted and free from errors. Styling your CV doesn’t mean you need to be a designer. There are plenty of templates which you can find on the web to guide you or tap into freelancers out there maybe via Fiver offering to style and design your CV for a small fee.
don’t lose the content by trying to be too different
Styling is important but it doesn’t mean you have to be overtly creative. Standing out is important but not at the expense of your content and the recipients time. Often, I have coachee’s panic when discussing their CV with the fear that nowadays you have to be ‘ultra-creative’ with your CV – 3d, videos or PowerPoints often are discussed. These may work as a hook to grab attention and encourage your actual CV to be read or for certain industry sectors, but be careful not to let creativity and trying to be different limit your content and impact. My experience an employer wants a simple to read CVwhich tells them everything they need to know quickly and effectively.
Create a foundation cv and tailor it
One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to your CV. I always recommend clients create a foundation CV – one which covers the essence of who you are and what you’ve done. Then for every job you apply for, tailor it to showcase your suitability as the best candidate. That means taking time to cross reference your CV with every job description and making sure you tick all their requirements. Update parts of your CV and bring attention to key elements of your skills and experience. Make sure you are as relevant and appealing for every job you apply for as possible. No cutting corners.
Think about the reader
Likelihood is someone is looking at your CV as they go through a pile of CVs knowing they have other tasks to do and just want to get through them. Or the task of shortlisting CVs has been delegated to someone else which means they have a clear criterion of what to look for. Research has indicated that an employer will take less than 30 seconds to read your cv. A carefully crafted CV which thinks about the reader will get more attention. Firstly, always start with a strong Personal Profile/ statement section which highlights who you are, key experience, key successes and skills (all tailored to the job don’t forget). Your personal profile /statement needs to be simple, concise and easy to read at the same time full of juicy content. Secondly, make the whole CV easy to read with bullet points and headings, using words which match the job description to describe you and your experience.
It’s about what you offer not what you did
Too often people create a CV providing a list of past companies and a list of tasks and responsibilities. All good and well but this requires the employer to do a bit of thinking about exactly what you offer them. Be more obvious with what you offer an employer. Tell them the value you bring with a focus on skills, strengths and examples of where you have delivered results. Don’t leave it for them to work out exactly whether you have what they need. This means you should spend some time really understanding and capturing what transferable skills, your expertise, your strengths and your personality which you have built over the years before writing your CV.
Reflective of who you are and how you will show up in the room. Authenticity is key. However, that doesn’t give you license to be informal or lack professional decorum. Let your personality come through but don’t fall into colloquial language and abbreviations.
Chances are you may have had a plethora of experience which you want to showcase but no employer wants pages and pages of a CV to wade through. Maximising your CV to 2 (at a push 3 pages) is more than enough for a mid-career professional. Don’t be repetitive. Use bullet points, sub headings and be concise with what you write – no essays allowed! – I always say to my coaching clients give a prospective employer enough for them to want to ask you more and not too little that they take no interest. Use the accompanying cover letter to add more detail around specific experience and the interview to tell the full story
Silly mistakes to avoid
Finally, over the years I’ve seen many very competent people miss out on an interview through silly mistakes which you would do well to avoid.
- Spell and grammar check! No employer wants to employ a sloppy person.
- Don’t fire the same CV off to every employer.
- Try to explain gaps on your cv rather than look like you are hiding something.
- Order your cv with a focus on your most recent experience, don’t rely on that one role years before which you think captures your employability.
- Always be consistent – ensure your CV mirrors what can be seen on LinkedIn, online application forms and wherever else an employer could potentially find out about your experience.
- Don’t lie – tailoring does not mean lying. Matching your cv to a job does not mean writing what you see an employer wants if you don’t have it in the personal toolbox. Tailoring means peeling back your experience to spot your relevancy and what you truly offer which matches the job description.
- Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you don’t believe your CV stands up on first sight to a specific job.. Spend some time working out what skills and experience the role truly requires and reflect on what you really have before dismissing an opportunity.
- Maximise every opportunity to showcase your value. Your interests and achievements add as much insight into your value and offering as your qualifications and work experience.
Need support updating your cv or working out how to get the job of your dream? Get in touch and book a FREE discovery call to find out how I could help you