Optimizing your CV is the best way to ensure you get your next interview. There are a number of simple things you can do to help make your CV more engaging and impactful from choosing the right format, to ensuring you’re including the most relevant content.
Here’s 5 simple ways you can optimize your CV:
1. Use the right format
It’s important to choose the right format and layout for your CV/resume. If you’re unsure, check out our guide to CV formats. Rather than try and fill every inch of the page, allow some white space so the reader can comfortably read your CV. Adjust the spacing of your document where necessary to make sections easier to identify and read.
Make sure you set your margins wide enough to allow space around the borders of the page and if including a footer (highly recommended for multi-page CVs), be sure there is enough space between it and the body of your CV.
One of my favourite personal branding strategies is to include a title or headline at the beginning of your CV. If you have significant skills and experience, inserting a title or headline at the top of your CV will help you stand out from the crowd. For example, if you are a management accountant you could include a title like: Experienced Management Accountant to instantly brand yourself as such.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is neglecting to include relevant key words in their CV. Key words are those commonly used words you’ll find in the job advertisement and person specification document.
Recruiters and employers frequently scan CVs for key words and if the right words don’t appear in your CV, you are likely to be passed over for someone who’s taken the time to include them. In addition to being scanned by human eyes, your CV might be put through an application tracking system (ATS) which enables recruiters to specify keywords and find matching CVs in seconds. This is why it’s so important that you include keywords throughout your CV, in your skills summary and role descriptions. The more the right keywords appear in your CV, the greater the match your CV will be when subjected to ATS.
4. Skills summary
A skills summary or overview section is a must and provides the perfect opportunity for you to highlight those key skills you have that match the role you are applying for. Look carefully at the requirements for the role and be sure to include those you have in your key skills section.
Your skills summary can include both hard skills and soft skills required for the types of roles you are applying for. Hard skills are those practical, professional or technical skills you possess such as computer skills for example. Soft skills include any interpersonal or people skills you have including communication skills, conflict resolution, team building, creative and strategic thinking and influencing skills.
5. Professional development
Many job seekers forget to include professional development activities in their CV. If you have attended any relevant workshops, training programs or seminars in the past 5-10 years it’s a good idea to include them in your CV. This demonstrates you’ve been keeping your knowledge and skills up to date. If you don’t have any recent CPD activities to include, it’s time to consider what you can do. Ideally, you should be aiming to undertake at least 20 hours of professional development annually.
Follow these 5 ways to optimize your CV and you’re bound to notice a difference.