As we are constantly being told, jobs are becoming scarcer and scarcer, whilst the numbers of hopeful applicants increases exponentially. There seems to be a great piling-up of the last five years' worth of university graduates, now in their late twenties, who work in low level roles but who dream of an office and sales team of their own. Similarly, many more experienced and capable people find themselves stuck in a role which they have outgrown, simply because of a lack of positions which would take them to the next level.
If you feel like a career change is in order, or are not getting any response from the jobs you have applied, then it might be time to revamp your CV. There are literally thousands of downloadable CV templates out there you can choose from, with an increasing number of articles on how you can make your CV stand out from the crowd. You can relax, however, because improving your CV writing skills is not that difficult. Follow the tips below and you'll be one step closer to creating a great CV.
1. Check your grammar
You can spend hours writing a wonderful CV, filled with thoughtful reflections such as how working in an old people's home increased your desire to help people, but unfortunately, no one is ever going to read it if it's full of typos.
For most people, spelling mistakes jump out instantly, closely followed by incorrect grammar. In many cases, this would send your CV to the bottom of the pile within moments of it being opened. What a shame, particularly if your skills actually fit the job well. So, one of the best ways to avoid this situation and improve your resume, make sure to proofread your work or ask someone else to check it for you if you're not sure it's correct.
2. Presentation is key
Recruiters spend many hours sifting through the dossiers of potential candidates, so a CV which is well laid out - with emboldened phrases and clear sections, with plenty of white space in between - is much more likely to catch their attention. A well-presented CV will immediately draw their eyes towards the most relevant information. Sure, it's always fun to talk about yourself and what you have achieved so far, but make sure that your CV is no longer than two pages of A4.
3. Content is king
Once your presentation is top notch, you need to examine the content of your CV. Have you included all the information your potential employer might be looking for? If you have a gap in your work history, make sure to explain why. What was an innocent six months spent travelling around Africa with your friends could instead be seen as a wasted period of time where you were neither working nor developing your skills, unless you explain it. Try to think of how any of these gaps helped you to develop transferable skills which make you suitable for this position.
4. Avoid clichés
Employers do not like to see clichés embedded throughout CV, as they come across them so frequently that they mean next to nothing. Use them sparingly wherever possible. After all, talking about things you have actually done rather than using meaningless phrases is far more interesting when you are having a conversation with someone, and it is exactly the same when writing your CV. So rather than saying that you ‘enjoy working as part of a team', it is much better to give an example of a time when you worked in a team in order to achieve something tangible.
5. Avoid jargon
Avoiding jargon is another way to write an effective CV that stand out. Be specific about what you are looking for and what you can do. Saying that you are looking for an administrative position in an HR department in order to broaden your understanding of HR makes more sense than saying you are looking for ‘an entry level position working to facilitate HR and gaining a deeper understanding of the process'.
6. List your achievements, not your duties
Don't state the obvious. Ensure you put your achievements on your CV, rather than the duties you perform. Most managers, for instance, will know roughly what is involved in being a sales executive. They will not know, however, that you increased the business' profits by 5% in the first year you were there, or that you restructured the client database to make sales calls more effective. These are the things to shout about!
7. Tailor your CV to the job
Of course, it is more than tempting to write an impressive CV and send it off to every company that is hiring. However, the person who reads your CV needs to see that your skills and experience match up to the role they have in mind.
As such, it is important to tailor your CV to the position you're applying for. Taking five or ten minutes to tweak the content of your CV to make it more applicable to a role may result in you being selected for interview.
8. Check your personal details
When we are so busy trying to make sure that both the content and presentation of the CV is perfect, personal details can be forgotten. Once you have finished writing your CV, go back and check that you have entered the right address, phone number and other personal details. Don't put your references on the CV either, as you need to be fully prepared for when the call to your current employer comes through.
One final point to make is to check your email address and the hobbies you mention on your CV. If you have a ‘funny' email address, it might be worth getting an alternative address for work purposes. Also, only mention your interests and pursuits if they directly contribute to the role.
Improving your CV writing is not as difficult as it may seem at first, and with a bit of practice, you'll be able to create a perfect CV in no time. Remember your presentation, content and your reader, and you'll be in good stead for writing a cracking CV. You want to represent the very best of yourself to the world, so put the time into making your CV perfect.
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