Sometimes a job opportunity can arise when you least expect it and you can be asked for a copy of your CV which you haven’t updated in months. There is no time for you to do a complete re-write and wishing that you had isn’t helping.
So what can you do?
While the key to a quality CV is that it is targeted, contains a consistent message and highlights your ability to use your skills while showing how you can add value to an organisation, there are also a number of subtle points to consider; points that can impact how your CV is viewed.
If you don’t have time to completely re-write your CV, these quick fixes will help in the short term:
- Don’t include references or even say that they are available on request – this takes up valuable space for selling yourself and is totally unnecessary; if companies want references they will ask for them so just be prepared for when you are asked.
- Your contact details – make sure that you have a professional email address that is not too long or full of numbers. The best option is to use your name or a variation of it. Regarding your phone number – make sure that if a recruiter contacts you that they can leave a message. It is also important that you have a clear and professional greeting on your phone.
- You have probably read and re-read your CV multiple times which means that you are unlikely to spot any spelling or grammar errors. Ask a friend to proof read it for you or do what I do and print off a copy then read it word for word from back to front – this requires that you concentrate more on the individual words and you are more likely to pick up errors.
- Personal date and hobbies are not required on your CV and may in fact create an opportunity for bias so leave them out.
- Don’t think that copying and pasting your CV onto a CV template will increase your chances of an interview, in all likelihood it will do the opposite as many online templates are boring and out of date while others that suggest you fill your CV with graphics, charts and tables will result in your CV not being picked up by many applicant tracking systems.
- Length – your CV should be no longer than three pages and ideally only two if you really want it to be read. This means that you have to be ruthless in your editing. Your CV is not your life story, it is your very own 20 second movie trailer which means that it should highlight the best parts of your career as they relate to the job description – you want to get the reader wanting to find out more about you.
- Make sure that your CV contains enough white space to make it easy to read both online and on paper.