This week is a very special one for Ascendant Recruitment as it marks our 13th birthday. Since the company began way back in 2003, we’ve helped over 250 local businesses find top talent and filled nearly 40,000 permanent and temporary vacancies.
In that time, we’ve seen quite a few CVs and it’s fair to say that the quality varies somewhat! Your CV is your first chance to impress and, if utilised correctly, is a great way to make a positive impression on an employer and help you secure that all-important interview.
So although it’s our birthday, we’ve got a present for you! Just read through our 13 top tips for improving your CV, make a few changes here and there and you could find it makes the world of difference to your prospects of landing a job.
Check, double check and check again
This is the number one CV annoyance amongst our consultants and the reason it’s so infuriating is because it’s so simple to fix! Make sure you personally check your CV for spelling and grammar thoroughly before you send it out; using a spell checking system simply isn’t enough. A mistake-ridden resume screams “lack of attention” and it will quickly be consigned to the bin. Once you’ve read it through, get someone else to take a look too as a fresh pair of eyes are more likely to pick up on errors.
Make it easy to read
Employers will have to read through many CVs during the recruitment process, so do yourself a favour and make it easy for them. Choose a nice plain font, stick to size 12 or 14 and use black type.
Avoid long paragraphs; instead, use short, punchy text blocks and bullet points to explain your skills and achievements in a concise manner.
Keep it chronological
Ensure you set your resume out in chronological order, with your most recent job first, followed by previous roles and finally your education. The reason this format works is simple; it allows a recruiter to quickly and easily look through your work experience. Setting your CV out this way means it’s much more likely to be read.
Keep it concise
Keep your CV to a maximum of two pages and you immediately increase the chances of it being read. There’s also no need to detail every job role and qualification; earlier work experience and GCSE results can be kept to one line if you’ve got more relevant skills to talk about.
It’s incredibly tempting to over-exaggerate qualifications or experience when applying for a job, but this will only lead to disappointment further down the line. The chances are you’ll be caught out during the interview, so keep it honest.
Most CVs contain clichés like ‘good team player’ and ‘excellent communication skills’ but these are meaningless without context. Make sure you give practical examples of how you’ve applied these skills in your career.
Although it’s important to have good quality referees, there’s no need to put them on your resume. If an employer wants to contact any of your references, they’ll ask for their details.
You should view your CV as a template, not the finished article. That means you need to tailor it for each individual application, as different employers will be looking for different skills and experience.
Include a personal statement
A short summary of your career achievements at the beginning of your CV brings it to life and shows the prospective employer what type of skills you have to offer. It will also bring some personality to your resume, helping it stand out from the crowd.
Remember qualifications and development
It’s important to update your resume with any new training or professional development you’ve undertaken. Not only does this indicate enthusiasm and dedication to your career, it shows the recruiter that your skills are bang up to date. Also, don’t forget to include key skills and achievements you’ve gained over your career.
Ditch the picture
Unless you’re looking for modelling or acting work, there’s absolutely no need to attach a picture of yourself to your CV. It only makes it look less professional and informal.
Check those contact details
There’s no point spending hours finely crafting your resume and then putting the incorrect telephone number or email address at the top, so double check they’re correct! While we’re on the subject, make sure your email address is suitable for job applications. Using firstname.lastname@example.org is fine when you’re at school but employers are looking for professionalism, so ditch the jokey address and get yourself a new one.
Due to the sheer number of applicants, many large companies now use technology to sift through CVs in the first instance. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include some industry keywords in your application to ensure it’s picked up.
It’s far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully you’ll find some useful tips for improving your CV and helping it stand out from the crowd. If you’d like some more in-depth advice, make sure you read our blogs on getting your CV ready and some things to consider if you’re planning to change career.