Spring Clean your CV!

Spring is here at last! Feeling a surge of energy as a result of the sunny days and brighter evenings you might think about decluttering the house and detoxing your diet in readiness for the Summer but what about your career?

Whether you are thinking of returning to work after having a break or wanting to change jobs now is the time to direct a bit of energy to your CV and job search.

CVFirstly, you need to find a space in your hectic schedule when you can dedicate enough time and energy to it. It is very easy to find other things to do when facing the prospect of rewriting your CV!

What can help is to visualise what you will achieve by spending the time on your CV, for example, if by getting back to work you will be able to afford a lovely holiday then find a picture of your holiday destination to remind yourself why you are doing this, or if it means something deeper, perhaps reconnecting with your professional identity then find an image that sums this up to you.

So now you have accessed the motivation you need to work on your CV find the latest version and give it a critical review to assess how much work it actually needs. If you are changing career or have had a long career break then it may require quite an overhaul but if you are already back at work or returning to the same job then it perhaps only needs a few tweaks.

Here are some top tips to help you make your CV stand out.

CV styles and layouts do change over time so make sure you are presenting yours using the current approach for your sector so it doesn’t immediately look dated. Remember less is more 2 pages is a definite maximum – recruiters won’t have time to read more than that. The top half of the first page must have the most impact as this will determine whether they read on.

It must be easy to read – choose a clear font and use 11pt font size as a minimum, and make sure that it is not text dense – use bullet points, bold and headings to help your achievements stand out, and keep plenty of white space around the text and between categories which make it much easier on the eye. Spelling and grammar mistakes result in your CV being dismissed immediately so double check for errors.

Before you write your CV do your research – what are the key skills needed for the job you are looking for? What is important to the sector or kind of organisation you are going to be working in? for example, is it a busy, creative field? do you need knowledge of a particular area?

Now’s the time to develop the achievements that will help your CV stand out – employers are interested in what you did well in your last job, not in what your tasks or responsibilities were, for example, ‘Organised successful new product launch party for 50 clients, including PR and catering, resulting in 10 orders placed.’ This has much more impact than ‘Responsible for organising corporate events.’ If you can quantify your achievements and include some figures that creates extra impact.

Remember you don’t have to include everything you have ever done, and jobs further back in your career history may only require 1 or 2 key achievements.

This is the summary at the top of the first page – make it specific, interesting and relevant to the job. Highlight the key skills and experiences you have and the kinds of environments you have worked in. You can even include things you are passionate about if it is relevant to the job.

Social Media:
If you are using LinkedIn then include a connection to your LinkedIn profile – do make sure your profile is up to date and consistent with your CV. If you searching for a creative role then having a portfolio on tumblr or pinterest and including a link to them on your CV is very useful for employers to see your work.

Tailor it for the Job:
Don’t be tempted to send the same CV out for different jobs – you have to tailor it for each job you apply for – write it in response to the specific advert – if you don’t you are just wasting your time as employers won’t be interested if you haven’t taken the time to make it specific to their job.

Remember recruiters only spend about 20-30 seconds reading your CV on initial screening. Imagine your CV being read by someone in the organisation you want to work in – if they only remembered 3 things about you from your CV after the initial read what would you want those three things to be?

It may seem like a lot of work but it is a good investment of your time especially if it leads to a great job. So when you think about spring cleaning, don’t waste time on the windows, dust off and revitalise your CV instead!

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