If you want your CV to end up in the ‘yes’ pile, don’t start your job search without revisiting your resume and giving it a good once-over. Whether it hasn’t been refreshed in two years or three months, it’s important to ensure the content is up to date and relevant for the roles you want to pursue.
A strong CV will give you an immediate head start over those competing for the same position but who haven’t bothered to review or update their resume.
Here are 10 quick key considerations for your CV:
1. Keep it brief
Generally, most CVs are two pages maximum. Why? Because studies have found most recruiters will spend anywhere from six seconds to 15 seconds scanning a resume before determining whether it makes the ‘yes’ pile. It’s even shorter for AI job matching software. So don't overdo it. Keep it short and succinct but with all the important details.
2. Avoid unnecessary personal details
Discrimination is against the law in most parts of the world. With that said, bias, subconscious or otherwise, do inevitably set in when recruiters review candidates. As such, to increase the odds for you, it is a good idea to avoid including anything personal details in your CV. For example, date of birth is not critical, since it is the single most likely point that could lead to age-related discrimination. In addition, as much as you should should about your academic qualifications, don't reveal the years in which you obtained said qualifications. These are all tell-tale signs of your age and may be used against you. Other personal details that should be left off entirely include gender, marital status, religion, etc. As a rule of thumb, stick to details that pertain to the job you are applying for and let the work and experience do the talking.
3. Don’t write in first person
Avoid “I did this… I did that…” examples. Instead, use sentences starting with verbs such as “Completed...” or “Achieved...”. It gets to the point using less words and will keep your resume to two pages.
4. List your career history in reverse chronological order
That is, starting with your current or most recent job and running all the way through to your first. If it’s an extensive list, prioritise the three or four most recent roles. You can explain or fill in the earlier roles later. This part is important because that temp job from a decade ago is unlikely going to be relevant to the job you are applying for right now. On the other hand, your current job, or the one you are looking to leave, is likely going to have skills and expertise that you can roll over and contribute to the next role. These are exactly the kind of details recruiters look out for, so it is critical to place your current role up top.
5. Use bullet points for achievements and responsibilities
A CV is not a dissitation. Keeping with our advice about short and succinct descriptions, your achievements and responsibilities too should be pointed and easy to digest. As mentioned previously, recruiters tend not to have a lot of time to go through long-winded, multi-page CVs, so bullet points help them narrow the scope down to the information that truly matter. Include more detail on recent roles and less on older positions unless they are especially relevant to the job you’re applying for.
6. List educational institutions and qualifications in reverse chronological order
Work experiences are perhaps more important these days, but educational institutions and qualifications must be included as well. Reviewers will want to see more recent tertiary qualifications before secondary school results. Any training, courses or internships should also be mentioned in the same order.
7. Include all computer and software skills, relevant training and languages
Align your technology and software skills to the roles you’re applying for. When it comes to other training and languages, you never know when these will come in handy.
8. Keep your hobbies and interests section short
Including your interests is a nice personal touch to include in your CV, but it should only take up one line or two. For example, your personal interests could include filmmaking, surfing and cooking. As for the rest of your interests, keep them in your backpocket and save it for the job interview instead.
9. Referees can be provided on request
You don’t need to include their contact details on your CV, just indicate that they are available upon request. This will also require them to contact you again if they need references, meaning you have likely progressed to the next or final stage. Furthermore, this means that you get to choose which referee to put the interviewer in touch with.
10. Check for typos
Even if you think your CV is error-free, it’s worth asking a trusted friend to read it through. A good trick that writers use is to read the words out loud to spot mistakes. Another nifty trick is to change the font of your CV, so that you are not looking at the same wall of words for the umpteenth time. A simple visual trick like that sometimes allows you to spot errors that you'd have otherwise missed.