10 Steps to a successful CV

Your CV is like a shop window; it displays your wares to shoppers as they scoot past. So how do you make them stop? And how do you turn half-hearted window shopping into something more committed? Follow these ten tips to ensure yours is the Selfridges of CVs – rather than the jumble sale. 

1. Keep it concise 
Usually a CV should be no more than two sides of A4 paper. Recruiters spend an average of just 8 seconds reviewing a CV – if you send them an encyclopaedic rundown of your career to date, they won’t find the information they want. Keep it punchy, to the point, and save the details for the interview.

2. Tailor it
Take the time to adapt your CV to each role you apply for. Research the company and use the job ad to gauge exactly which skills you should signpost and which aren’t perhaps so relevant.

3. Include a personal statement
Don’t assume a recruiter will see the connection between your experience and the job: use a brief personal statement to tie your work history to the specific company and role.

4. Don't leave gaps
Gaps make recruiters suspicious – if they spot something’s missing, they’re unlikely to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you’ve been out of work, put a positive spin on it - did you develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork or project management, for example?

5. Keep it current
You should update your CV regularly, regardless of whether you’re actively job seeking. Every time something significant occurs in your career, record it so nothing slips through the memory sieve. 

6. Ensure it’s mistake-free
One of the easiest ways to weed out weaker CVs is to scan them for mistakes. David Hipkin, head of recruitment and resourcing at Reed Business Information, warns, “With most employers experiencing massive volumes of applicants right now, giving them the excuse to dismiss your application because of avoidable errors is not going to help you secure an interview.”  Always use a spellchecker and ask someone else to proof your work.

7. Tell the truth
Never tell blatant lies on your CV as many companies will check the facts. And if they don’t, it’s likely you’ll get caught out at the interview stage instead – where any inconsistencies in your story will be ruthlessly probed.

8. Include compelling facts
Back up your achievements with numbers. When writing your work history, don’t just tell the recruiter you increased sales; tell them you increased sales by 70% over a six month period.

9. Make it look good
Spend time formatting your CV. Use bullet points and keep sentences short. Use the graphic design trick of leaving plenty of white space (around text and between categories) to make sure the layout is easy on the eye.

10. Make it keyword friendly
If you’ve uploaded your CV to a job site so recruiters can find you, keywords will be vital in ensuring they actually do. Universally understood job titles and sector buzzwords will help a search engine pick out your CV from the pile. So a marketing candidate might mention SEO (Search Engine Optimization), direct marketing and digital marketing among their experience and skills.

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