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Give your CV a makeover

ar5l7rt6608scchqhlbxWhether you’re just embarking on your job search or have been looking for work for months, it never hurts to go back to basics. Your CV is the first chance you get to impress a potential employer – is yours working as hard as possible for you, or does it need a refresh?

1. Show them evidence of success

Potential employers are interested in your skills and education but most of all, they want to see that you will be a good return on investment – so give them proof where possible.

‘Go through each job listing on your CV and try to uncover at least one achievement for each role, advises Clare Whitmell, a qualified business communication trainer who blogs on careers at

‘Even better, make these achievements relevant to the job that you’re applying for. Employers want to know about money made, money saved, and processes streamlined. Remember to quantify and qualify. For example, don’t say “I improved sales” if you can say “the new order processing system I initiated increased sales by 30% in three months.”

‘If you don’t have hard figures to call upon, flag-up times where you performed better than average, or used your expertise to help colleagues.’

2. Tailor your CV for the job you’re applying for

When it comes to applying for jobs, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. Once you have a CV that you’re happy with, ask yourself if it’s relevant for the position you’re applying for.

‘Don’t think you can just update your CV once at the beginning of a job search. While you obviously need to add in your most recent position, you should modify your CV every time you apply for a job,’ says Rob Williams an occupational psychologist and author of “Brilliant Verbal Reasoning Tests” and “Brilliant Numeracy Tests”.

‘Your personal statement should be tailored for each particular role, making sure it emphasises the skills and experience most relevant to the role. Another tip is to read the ad and person specification and see if you can add key words and phrases they use to your CV.’

3. Get the format right

Appearances matter. Your CV should be formatted to make it easy to find information – but that doesn’t mean it has to look dull.

‘There are plenty of examples of CVs with visually interesting layouts and designs on the web. While a standard-looking CV will be expected in certain sectors, a more inventive layout may help you stand out in creative industries,’ says Rob.

‘While using a resume template can be a good starting point, most recruiters will recognise popular templates and may think you haven’t put much effort into how yours looks – so always customise your format.’

According to Clare, it’s a good idea to cover all bases by producing your CV in different formats. ‘Keep the standard text-only version for job boards – this is also the most easily read on various devices, such as laptops, tablets on smartphones – and hand out paper copies with a more visually impressive design at interview.’

4Check – and check again

Once you’ve finished your CV, read it back for the “so what?” factor.

‘Everything you include must position you for the role,’ advises Clare. ‘Take out interests and hobbies if they’re generic and boring, back up assertions, and focus on your results and impact on the bottom line.’

When you’re very familiar with a document, it’s easy to become ‘blind’ to gaps in information, inaccuracies and spelling mistakes.

‘Your spellchecker won’t catch every mistake – so check, and double-check, your CV for both spelling and grammatical errors,’ advises Rob. ‘And get a friend to proof read it if you can.’

5. Make sure your CV adds to your online presence

Today’s recruiters and hiring managers like to check potential candidates on social media.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date (and has the same information as your CV). If you don’t have any references from previous employers and clients, make sure to get some.

‘It’s all very well “sitting” on social media sites, but if you want to appeal to potential employers, you need to enhance your professional reputation. One way to do this is to join relevant industry groups and contribute to debates and discussion,’ says Clare.

‘Many candidates add their LinkedIn URL to their CV under their contact details, making it easy for recruiters to find them online.

‘Don’t forget to create a professional presence on Twitter, and Google+ too. Thanks to free presentation software, it’s easy to upload talks you’ve given or papers you’ve written, and create slide shows of your achievements.’

Book links

Brilliant Verbal Reasoning Tests – Everything You Need to Know to Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests by Rob Williams:

Brilliant Numeracy Tests: Everything You Need to Know to Pass Numeracy Tests by Rob Williams:

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