I recently updated my CV, it’s something I’ve been looking at on and off for the past year, but I decided I needed to sit down over the course of a few days and get a new format with fresh, inspired content. This can be an daunting activity, there are so many articles on what you should and shouldn’t do, and often this advice can be conflicting, overwhelming and confusing.
Before you start to look at your CV have in your mind a clear purpose of what you want to achieve, are you:
- Updating the document
- Completely overhauling it with a new job search in mind
- Looking to move into a different sector
I knew that I wanted a completely new design for my CV, so I looked at lots of different templates online (Google and Pinterest) to see what I liked the look of then started to pick and choose elements and see what worked and what didn’t. I used InDesign to create my new CV, as I am familiar with the interface, and find it flexible and easy to use. The design values I employed emphasized space, clear sectioning and stripping everything back. The temptation can be to put as much text as possible, but try taking out the unnecessary text that bulks it out then print out the document and hold it at arms length what are the defining features? Because that is the impression your CV is giving out.
Reorganising the content on my CV was a lot more difficult for me. I found Aimee Bateman’s advice on separating duties and achievements useful and worked hard on crafting my personal statement to make it relevant and unique to me. For the detail of my jobs I took out all the hyperbole and centred on actions using statistics and success verbs and emphasised the value I added to each role.
I found it useful to keep the following in mind when working on your CV:
Focus on accomplishments
The purpose of your CV is not to showcase your entire job history, but to get an interview or onto the next stage of the job application process. Focus on accomplishments; how did you save money, show initiative or work with limited resources.
Don’t make them look for something
Recruiters and hiring managers are busy, don’t make them look for information make it easy to find on your CV in a succinct, compact way you are instantly endeared to them.
Get critical feedback
Once you have a draft send it to friends and colleagues whose opinion you trust and get critical feedback on it.
Tweak it for each job
Adjust language and focus of your CV depending on the job you are applying for and have different versions for different areas and fields.
Personally I am looking to move job sector and it can be disheartening looking back at your CV and not seeing a natural alignment or path to your desired new direction. Don’t waste time over-thinking this instead demonstrate to potential employers in your CV where you have shown initiative and how in your spare time you are expanding your skills set. Show them the potential you have and what they will get if they invest in you.