8 ways to spruce up your CV

Writing your CV can be a daunting task and it’s easy to turn to cookie-cutter templates as the answer to all your problems. However, as an employer there is nothing worse than sifting through a stack of identical, one-dimensional resumes; ‘motivational self-starter’, ‘team-player’, ‘excellent communicator’, we’ve heard it all before. Remember, your CV is a sales pitch telling your story by highlighting your key achievements and abilities. Here are some important ways you can spruce up your CV and make it more you.

1. Delete that objective statement

Beginning a CV with an objective statement is so last year. Employers already know that your objective is to get the job and this wastes valuable CV real-estate. CV expert at ResuMayDay, Lauren Milligan, instead suggests creating a personal summary statement that “illustrates how you are better than other candidates for the job.” This can be done by highlighting a few areas that you excel at and that you really enjoy doing. The key to getting any job is relevance, so if you really want to tick boxes, identify the core requirements of the job and align your personal summary statement with these.

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2. Human-Voiced CV

Rather than reverse chronologically listing work experience and educational achievements, adopt a human-voiced approach which gives your employer a feel for you as a person. This is a relatively new approach which can help you tell your story, while demonstrating the ways in which you can help solve the company’s problems. Liz Ryan, writing for Forbes magazine, urges readers to “try something new, and put a human voice in your resume”. Ryan illustrates that human-voiced CVs are orientated around pain because hiring managers are often looking for candidates to solve their specific kind of pain, or problem. Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin with a personal summary telling the reader how you got into the field and what fuelled your interest in the area. Use this to describe the pain you solve, supported by evidence of your achievements.
  • Begin to list off your relevant employment experience, framing the company/organisation for which you worked in its context, and why you were brought on. This outlines the function of your role within a greater picture.
  • Then, choose two or three stories which slay from each job to give scope to your abilities and achievements.
  • Don’t get caught up listing tasks and duties we could gauge from the job title. Focus on what you achieved and how you stood out. Not what was already expected of you.
  • Avoiding statements like “I know how to drive sales”, or, “I’m strategic”. These aren’t your judgements to make. Show the reader what you’ve done, don’t tell. Let them make the judgements.

Remember to keep storytelling in mind. This doesn’t have to mean your CV is cluttered and long-winded. But it does mean that the more fluid your CV is, the better.

3. Delete meaningless words

Even if you don’t choose to follow the human-voiced approach, or only choose to incorporate elements of it, ensure that your CV is jargon-free. Try to avoid generic, corporate language that has been heard a million times, such as ‘Works well with all levels of staff’, ‘Meets or exceeds expectations’, ‘Proven track record of success’ and other similar phrases. Show this through your achievements instead.

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4. Quantify your CV

A great way of showing rather than telling the reader that you are great for the job is by providing metrics to give scope to your achievements. Without numbers, your CV will be vague, unclear, and boring. Be sure to back up any claims you make about yourself with an example. For example, illustrate how you increased company sales by providing a figure. If you managed or trained employees, write down how many. If you saved the company money, illustrate how you did it and how much you saved.

5. Keep it SIMPLE

Employers will be reading possibly hundreds of CVs in a short space of time, so be direct, otherwise, they’ll lose interest fast. Punchy sentences which get to the point are important. A great trick is to turn your CV upside down; if it’s hard to determine which section is which, chances are your CV is too dense.

6. Only include recent and relevant experience

As mentioned before, the key to getting a job is relevance. Your CV should only be 1-2 pages long as a rule of thumb therefore, you can’t include everything. Your employer is only looking for relevant experience, the rest is exactly that - irrelevant. If you’re applying for a job for which you have little relevant experience, it’s time to get creative and find the overlaps between your experience and the role requirements.

7. Use an up-to-date font

Times New Roman is a classic but is getting a little dated now. Make sure the font is clear and easily legible. Don’t use fancy fonts; the simpler the better. Garamond is becoming increasingly popular and looks like a contemporary take on Times New Roman. Check out Business News Daily’s breakdown of the best fonts for your CV.

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8. Don't include hobbies and interests unless you are in the very early stages of your career.

If you are, make sure they're relevant – don't include "socialising" and "drinking".

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