The top 10 tips for improving your CV

CVs are vital when looking to secure a new position and some employers can often take as little as 6 seconds looking over your work. The key is to catch their attention early on, that way there is a much greater chance of them reading it properly.  Therefore, the single most important aspect you must do us to customise your CV to match the role which you are applying for.

We’ve compiled our top 10 tips to help you get noticed by employers and take a further step to securing your next job.

  1. Be Professional

When writing your CV, keep it professional. Personal information about your family, marital status, date of birth and gender should not be included.  In some instances, including such information could lead to unscrupulous employers being discriminatory.  Unless requested, don’t include a photograph.

However, the primary focus of your CV should be to highlight your strengths, accomplishments and skills. Employers are looking to see what a candidate can offer them and how they will contribute to their business goal. Personal information can be shared if they ask you later down the road. For now, keep your CV business professional in scope and simple it simple.

  1. CV Formatting

There are various ways you can format a CV and we would always advocate drafting it in MS Word or Pages to keep the layout flexible.  The way your CV reads can be either chronological or functional, or in some instances, you may wish to use a hybrid of the two. The most common format people use is chronological.  This is where you list your most recent employer at the top of your CV and then add your prior employers after that. A functional CV focuses on your accomplishments the most instead of your employment.

So, you would list various skills under headings such as “management” or “customer service” for example. This format enables you to show transferable skills. Both have their benefits but many employer’s human resource departments like a chronological CV.

  1. Proofread your CV, then get someone else to do it.

This is probably the most obvious tip. However, proofreading your CV is an absolutely crucial task. The worst thing you can do is have a tonne of grammatical errors or spelling mistakes which are easily noticed by an employer. This can indicate that the CV was written without due care or may have been rushed through in haste.

Once you’ve read through it and corrected any mistakes, email it to a friend who has a knack for proofreading.  Once they’ve made any changes, re-read it to check for any errors.  Depending on the application system you are using, it is often a good idea to send your PDF to a recruiter as a PDF.  That way the formatting won’t be changed on their system, and red lines under unusual spellings won’t be highlighted.

  1. Add key words that match the job description/advert

Go through your CV and highlight (in bold text) key achievements and skills, as the reader’s eye will automatically be drawn to these.  Your key words should match the most important or essential skills/qualifications/experience that the employer has written in the job advert.  Make sure you refer back to the advert to ensure that you have highlighted the key aspect that they are looking for.

  1. Self-Promote

A well-crafted CV is a powerful marketing tool. You should highlight and sell the skills you can offer to the employer. A list of skills, accomplishments, and abilities should be included. Remember, quality over quality is the key. Be specific and to the point.

A good way of achieving this concisely is to include a personal statement at the very top of your CV.  It should (in no more than a couple of sentences) give an employer a very quick overview of who you are and what you can bring to the table.

As an example:

An inspirational and high achieving Commercial Director with strong experience within both the public and private sector. Highly motivated, energetic and transformational relationship manager with a keen eye for detail and exceptional financial acumen developed throughout a multinational. 

  1. Use powerful verbs and language

When adding your bulleted list of tasks or duties you have performed for your prior employers, start each bullet with an action verb. Action verbs are a more powerful way to start the bullet get right to the point. Using action verbs such as “managed”, “created”, “documented”, “improved”, or “achieved” are some good examples. This allows employer to get a quick overview with lesser words to read and allows them to immediately get a specific overview.

  1. Contact Information

Your contact information is essential information to include on your CV. It should include your legal name, phone number, and email address. If you have a nickname, just tell your employer your nickname during the interview.

Also, make sure you use an email address that is appropriate. Stay away from using numbers that may indicate your birth year. Do note that employers cannot discriminate against age, but it is savvy to have a more professional email than one that includes your birth year in the address. Next, check your voicemail message. Some individuals have funny lingo or music playing on their phones when someone’s leaves a message. Just make sure when applying for jobs that your voicemail message sounds professional.

  1. Don’t lie or embellish the truth

This is the easiest way to throw all your efforts down the pan.  If you choose to make up qualifications, skills or employment, you’ll most likely have a very hard reality check when you’re found out.  Employers do conduct reference checks and speak with their network to verify information that you have provided.

If you’ve lied during the application process but still manage to get the job, when an employer finds out you are likely to face severe disciplinary action, or more likely, instant dismissal.  This will have a huge impact on your ability to get a decent reference from your employer and future employers are unlikely to touch you with a barge pole.

  1. Talk about gaps in your employment

There are many perfectly good reasons you may have a gap in your employment. You could have switched careers, got laid off, had a baby, took care of a sick family member, attended school, or raised children. However, if you can, try and fill any gaps with volunteer work you may have accomplished or professional development you may have completed in order to fill those gaps.

You can also consider changing your CV format. Instead of using a chronological format, use a functional CV instead. Keep in mind an employer will still ask questions regarding the gaps (it will show on the employment application), so be prepared to answer questions regarding this during the interview.

  1. Get help where you need it

You’re not alone in wondering whether your CV is up to the mark and most of us dread having to write, and re-write a CV.  Use your network of friends to help you, or if you’re looking for further support, reach out to a professional company who are able to take care of the process for you.

If you require any additional support regarding the application process, or how to use your new ninja CV during an interview process, please get in touch with us at www.winninginterviews.co.uk

About the author

Iain Beaumont founded Winning Interviews to help people excel when it comes to pitching themselves for a job.  He has conducted over 200 job interviews and read over 1,000 CVs throughout his career, so knows how to spot talent when it comes along.  By passing on that experience and knowledge, Iain hopes to help other people succeed and get the job they really want

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