Tips to Update your CV
Whether you’ve just graduated, or are looking for work experience this summer, it’s time to update your CV. But where do you go from here? The one you wrote over a year ago probably won’t cut it for new applications, so it’s important to refresh it. The job market is competitive, so you must stand out from the crowd in order to impress employers.
Alice from CV Library shares her tips on how you can polish your CV and cover letters, to help secure yourself an exciting job.
Declutter your information
Both your CV and cover letter shouldn’t be pages and pages long. They need to be concise and accurately sum up your key skills and experience.
Your cover letter should be about one A4 page and your CV between one to two pages, depending on your industry. Make sure you check industry standards e.g. a financial CV is usually one page, but something like marketing can be two pages. Do your research to ensure you balance the right amount of information without waffling.
Take out anything out dated or irrelevant. For example, if you’ve completed a degree you probably don’t need to detail every GCSE you took. Instead, something like ‘8 GCSEs grades A*-C, including Maths and English’ will work.
Likewise, you can take out the ‘references available on request’ line if you need to free up space. Employers don’t need to see this and it doesn’t contribute to your application.
On this point, if your CV is edging over the two-page mark, it’s worth cutting out positions that aren’t related to the specific job role you’re applying to – e.g. that Saturday job you had when you were 16. Instead, just name the company and dates in this scenario and don’t address the role on your cover letter.
Remember, it’s all about making space for the positions and experience that matter to the specific role.
Engage with the reader
Just because your CV and cover letters should be professional, it doesn’t mean they have to sound boring. The job hunters with interesting and engaging applications will stand out more to hiring managers and will boost their chances of being shortlisted.
So don’t just bullet point your skills, qualities or experience – show how you developed these. What does listing ‘I have great time management skills’ actually prove? You must engage with the reader describing specific times you exhibited this in projects, whether through work experience or during your studies.
Make sure you work on your personal profile too. Ask yourself if it’s intriguing, interesting and will hook the hiring manager. It should be a catchy, straight to the point statement, which sums up who you are and what your aim is. For instance:
‘Proactive and confident Business graduate with previous experience in a demanding and challenging sales environment. Currently looking to secure a position in the sales industry in a dynamic and innovative company.’
A hiring manager can spot a generic online template from a mile off. These basic templates are great for structuring your application, but aren’t impressive if you don’t personalise them to yourself and the role. If your CV or cover letter could be used for any role, in most industries, it’s time to make some adaptions.
Start with some in depth research about the company so you know what type of person they’re looking for.
Highlight the skills they’re looking for on the job description and align your strengths with this. Make sure you tick all the boxes they’re looking for so that you can show you’re the perfect fit for the role.
Here you should make use of industry specific keywords. This means that any hiring managers who use an ATS (applicant tracking system) should be able to find your CV and cover letter.
Proof read vigorously
There’s no such thing as an insignificant mistake on a CV or cover letter. Hiring managers will be quick to throw an application with even the smallest typo into the ‘no’ pile.
While word processors do a general spell check, there’s certain words or grammar errors they may miss. So don’t let all your hard work go to waste by missing these mistakes.
You should aim to read through your cover letter and CV at least three times, leaving it as long as possible between the proof reads. On top of this you should get a friend or family member to proof read your application to double check you haven’t missed anything.
Ready to polish up your CV and cover letter?
If you put careful thought into your CV and cover letters, you’ll soon find that your applications gets noticed.
You must include the right information, engage and intrigue the hiring manager, while making sure your application is perfectly tailored and mistake free.
Take these tips one step at a time and you will soon find that the process seems less daunting.
Alice is a PR and Communications Assistant at CV Library
As a recent English Literature graduate she loves anything that involves reading or writing, which is good news because her job involves a lot of it!
CV Library is a leading independent job board in the UK and owns a range of other career sites, including Education Jobs. Check out their guides for information on specific careers.
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