CV tips

20 ways to improve your CV today

Whether you’re looking for your first job, a new role or simply want to give your ol’ CV a spring-clean, make sure you read this first…

#1 Make sure your contact details are right.

There’s little point in submitting the perfect CV if you’ve listed the wrong phone number or email address.

#2 Fit it onto one side of A4. Or two sides of A4. But never one-and-a-half sides of A4.

Them’s the rules – don’t ask me why.

#3 Pick an easy-to-read font.

If your CV is illegible, an employer won’t waste time trying to make sense of that pretty-but-impractical font.

#4 And an easy-to-read font size…

… Because nobody wants to be squinting at size-6 Tahoma.

#5 Make it to the point.

Assume the person reading has 60 seconds to decide, based on your CV, whether or not they want to invite you for an interview. Make it interesting, relevant and snappy.

#6 Read it through from the POV of a potential employer.

How do you make yourself sound – would you hire you? (Well, obviously, because you’re fabulous.)

#7 Don’t be afraid to shout about your successes and strengths…

Don’t under-sell any achievements or unusual skills you have – shout them from the rooftops!

#8 But don’t be too braggy. Stick to facts rather than overly-long descriptions.

A rambling paragraph about why you felt so privileged and honoured to be picked as the winner in competition X or awards ceremony Y will quickly get boring. This isn’t the Oscars, and you aren’t Gwyneth Paltrow.

#9 Be honest.

There’s no point in pretending you’ve climbed Kilimanjaro or self-published a book if, in fact, you haven’t. Chances are you will get called up on it – red faces all round.

#10 Think outside the box in terms of your skill set.

Yes, you have great people skills, you’re a team player, you’re a competent PC user… But what else can you do? There are oodles of creative, valuable skills you have, so don’t feel as if you have to conform to the traditional skill-set. (Although obviously ‘making sandwiches’ and ‘hitting the high notes in Kelly Clarkson songs’ don’t really count.)

#11 Be careful with formatting if you’re sending it via email.

If you’re saving your CV as a .doc file, it might corrupt when opened at the other end. Instead, save it as a PDF – that way, it will stay exactly as you saved it. Phew.

#12 If you’re not sure, show it to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Hand it over to a career-savvy friend who can tell you what needs tweaking and why. Chances are it’s perfect, but a second pair of eyes might spot any mistakes you missed the first time.

#13 Spell-check, spell-check, spell-check.

Because there’s nothing worse than mentioning your ‘excellent grammer and speling’ if you’ve made typos throughout.

#14 Cut the wheat from the chaff.

Decide which skills and experiences are most relevant to the job you’re applying for – and cut-out anything that no longer matches. For example, the weekend job you had at college – whilst great as a first rung on the ladder – might not be strictly relevant to where you are in your career now. Make your CV seem as tailored to the industry as possible.

#15 Include key words.

Reed has a great list of words and phrases that make you look endlessly impressive right here.

#16 Be careful with the hobbies/interests section.

If you have room to include a little ‘About Me’, great – but keep details to-the-point. Also, refer back to #9 – statingΒ you have an unusual hobby simply to make yourself ‘stand out’ will almost certainly see you quizzed on it at the interview. Avoid little white lies in order to spare you future on-the-spot embarrassment.

#17 If you’re applying for a specific role, re-read the job description.

Make sure you’ve matched up the skills and experience they mention within your CV – more simply, mirror what they’re asking for.

#18 Have an online alternative on your website so people can ‘discover’ you…

Pop a text-copy or downloadable PDF on your About Me section or similar, along with clear (and in the case of email, clickable) contact details.

#19 … Or alternatively, sign up to LinkedIn.

Another social network – what’s not to love?

#20 Check those contact details one last time.

Thank us later…


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