Five easy steps to a CV revamp
Posted in cv-advice
Friday, September 27th, 2019
You’re likely to be decades into your career before the several-page CV becomes a necessity. For most roles, it’s best to keep it to two sides of A4 at the most.
That means when you want to add something new, you need to make space for it, whereas older information like further education qualifications might be less relevant than, for example, more recent job experience.
Here are five simple steps to a CV revamp that cuts the weaker information and puts your strongest credentials front and centre.
1. Read the job description
It sounds obvious, but before you revamp your CV, read the job description – in full – for the role you are applying for.
That way you can prioritise your most relevant experience and move anything less important, but which you think is still worth including, further down the page.
Consider your cover letter too, as you can use this to reference your most relevant attributes from your CV and give the interviewer some signposts as to what questions to ask you.
2. Summarise older information
As time passes, the older information on your CV might deserve less spelling out, so summarise it if it’s still worth including at all.
That might mean your education section becomes a short list of qualifications with only your higher education and continuing professional development fully itemised.
You might find this a useful opportunity to hide periods of poor performance in the past – it’s best not to leave gaps in your personal timeline, but you don’t have to point out past failures either.
3. Check the wording
If you’re polishing an existing CV, don’t just skim read what you wrote in the past, as your personal tone of voice may have changed in the months or years since.
Working in an industry for a long time can change the way you talk about it and about yourself, so make sure any industry-specific words you used in the past are still correct.
This helps you to present yourself as you are now, at this newest stage in your career, as well as to remove obsolete terminology that makes you sound less relevant to the here and now.
4. Don’t use filler
You don’t need five bullet points for every role in your career history. If you’re short of space, consider deleting the less significant or repetitive lines.
This not only avoids wasting the interviewer’s time, it also puts the spotlight on the experiences you are most proud of and gives you more confidence about what the interview questions will be based on.
In most cases your more recent jobs will be the most interesting to the interviewer, so unless you had a particularly high-profile role early in your career, list them in reverse chronological order with more focus on the recent past.
5. Prioritise your USPs
CVs can be pretty formulaic – in fact that’s the whole point of them, to make it easier to compare one candidate with another.
If you have one or more truly unique credentials, such as an achievement nobody else has matched, major media coverage or a prestigious industry award, include it.
Even if there’s no obvious place to list it, put it in a section of its own if you have to – if you’re proud enough that you want to include it, it’s probably worthy of the spotlight.