There has never been a better time to give your resume a makeover while you are in isolation. Did you know studies have shown that employers spend no more than 75 seconds reading your CV? Therefore, you have just over a minute to sell yourself, so it’s vital to make yours stand out, and three-quarters of CVs are rejected due to bad grammar, spelling, or poor visual layout. Your CV is your shop window, and it can be the make-or-break factor in whether an employer enters your shop or walks away.
Here is how to craft the perfect CV to differentiate you from other candidates.
A good template. There are plenty online, but keep it simple. Don’t get carried away with fancy layouts. Most of our candidates are from the creative industry, so we receive a lot of elegant CVs as they want it to stand out, but the content gets lost, and it becomes hard to read. Try not to use text boxes, as it can be tricky for the employer to put the CV onto their database. And never send it in PDF, because when you are using a recruitment agency, they will be unable to remove your contact details and it will delay them sending your CV to their client. Always send it in a word document.
Font. Choose a clear, legible font and stick to a couple of font sizes throughout your CV. Go for one that’s clear and easy to read, Calibri or Arial are good examples. The body of your CV should be no smaller than 11pt.
Length. Ensure that your CV is no more than two pages long.
Layout. Instead of putting “Curriculum Vitae” at the top, put your name. Your home address should come next, followed by your email address and contact number.
Name. Make it more significant with a larger font, at the top of the page, centralised and bold. If you have a common name like Susan Smith, include a middle initial to separate you from the crowd. If you have a qualification that entitles you to add letters after your name, then include that as well.
Email address. Set up a professional email address that is not being used for your social media accounts. For safety reasons, avoid email addresses that include a nickname, hobbies, pet’s name, birth year, or any other personal information. You don’t want to showcase something that could give the wrong impression. You will be surprised at what email addresses we receive (email@example.com), and when they are sitting in the employers’ inbox, they won’t take you seriously.
Phone Number. Always include your mobile number and set up a professional voicemail so that you know when the employer has called, and you can call them straight back.
Age. Remember, age discrimination laws mean you don’t need to disclose how old you are on your CV, and for this reason, don’t use your birth year in an email address.
Social Media. Before including your social media on your CV, manage your social media pages first. If you have posts that contain controversial views, change your settings so that these posts aren’t visible to employers. I looked up a candidate on Facebook once, and on their profile, they were doing naked yoga (back view thankfully). When I sent the candidates CV to our client and asked for feedback, the client said that they were not the right fit for their team, and I could tell by their faces that they had looked them up on Facebook too. This candidate had all the right skills for a life-changing role abroad, and this cost them an interview.
LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, set one up, and if you do, then make sure it is up to date, including a recent headshot. According to LinkedIn, the list of the most used buzzwords are passionate, creative, and strategic and can be seen as marketing fluff, so think carefully what words you use when updating your profile.
Personal statement. Write a personal account of about 200 words (no more than five sentences long), but choose your words carefully. Don’t just say; I am hardworking and enthusiastic. Instead, use this section to tell the employer why you’re a good fit for their company, cover who you are, what you can bring to the table, and your career goals.
Employment history. List your most recent role first and then previous jobs you’ve had, but only if they are relevant. If you are applying for a designer role, for example, there is no need to mention the newspaper round you had when you were 14. List your job title and company of employment in bold, with dates of employment in brackets. If you had a career break, list what skills you developed while you were out of work. Where you networking or multitasking? Anything you have learned during this time. If you were fired, only give your departure date, and then you can explain more at the interview.
Education. Include all schools, colleges, and universities you’ve attended and then under each one, write qualification, subject, grade, institution, and date. Don’t be tempted to improve your grades, as you could get caught out. If you’re older than 25, then only list the number of GCSEs and A levels but always include degrees if you have any.
Multiple Versions. Ensure you tailor your CV to each job you apply for, identify skills in the job spec, and include examples of these. Make each version of your CV a clear reflection of you as the perfect candidate for the job.
Additional skills. Help yourself stand out from the crowd by listing any languages you speak and volunteering work you’ve done, that will strengthen your application. You could include training, language skills, relevant awards, or membership of professional bodies.
Interests and Hobbies. When applying for each job, mention only relevant hobbies. For example, if you are sending your CV for a Sportswear Product Developer role, then list appropriate sports activities. But keep it fresh and avoid things you did 20 years ago.
Spelling. Use Grammarly https://app.grammarly.com/, or you can use spell check, then ask someone good at English to read your CV before you send it anywhere.
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