In my 10 years as a CV Consultant, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. The basic rules for a good CV are the same across the board, but if you want to stand out and position yourself ahead of the other candidates, I’m happy to share some key tips I’ve learnt along the way.
Achievements. It’s so important to show a potential employer not just what you do every day, but also how you’ve excelled. If you’ve gone above and beyond in your previous roles, it can reassure a recruiter that you’ll do the same for them and prove yourself to be a worthwhile hire. Have a think about how you’ve really contributed to the business, in terms of improvement, profit, reputation, cost saving and so on. These are the details that can really set your CV apart from the rest of the pile. Separate your responsibilities from your achievements, to draw attention to them.
Numbers. Every CV should have a few numbers thrown in. Primarily, you should use them to quantify your achievements – that way, they’ll come across as credible and concrete, rather than as vague, unjustifiable claims. Think “increased sales by 35% within the first 2 months”, as compared to just “increased sales”. Numbers are also handy to build an understanding of the scope of your role. “Led a team” doesn’t explain much, but “led a team of 18 staff across 3 departments” enables a recruiter to understand more about the level you’ve been working at and the extent of your responsibilities. Bear in mind, though, that the one number you shouldn’t include on your CV is any reference to your salary.
No graphics. With increasing numbers of businesses using Applicant Tracking Systems to do the first sift of CVs, you’ll need to make sure that your CV makes the cut. Graphics are the prime offender for messing up the format and rendering elements of the CV unreadable, so get rid of them. There’s really no reason to include graphics in the first place. Thinking of including a photo? Think again – a recruiter should technically ignore it, to ensure they don’t fall foul of anti-discrimination legislation, so it really doesn’t add anything to build your case. Thinking of including company logos? No way, the CV should be about you, not an advert for previous employers or training companies.
Delete. No need to overshare! A CV is your personal marketing tool, so there’s no need to include every little detail, especially if it doesn’t help to build a compelling case to hire you. No-one needs to know if you were made redundant, had a paper round 20 years ago or dropped out of uni. Gloss over the less relevant parts of your life and focus only on the positives.
So there you have my top 4 tips for improving your CV and getting ahead. Good luck!