I’m going to be doing a little employability series here on the blog, sharing everything I know about employability and how to secure roles in your field! It will hopefully be a great help to those of you who are leaving school, college, university, or would just like a change in careers and you need a bit of support. Other blog posts I’m planning are advice on interviews, particularly how to answer the most common interview questions, and more! Your CV is an employer’s first impression of you, making it an incredibly important part of job seeking. And yet, so many people make fatal errors on their CVs every day. The most simple thing you hadn’t thought about could be losing you opportunities! To help, I’ve compiled a list of everything I’ve learned about CVs through submitting terrible ones, submitting fantastic ones, attending employability events, and more. So, without further ado, here are 10 ways to improve your CV!
1) Make sure your CV is formatted properly. It’s so simple, but something a lot of people don’t think of, and their CVs end up getting rejected before the employer has even read them. If your resume is not properly formatted, the system of the application portal will not be able to read your resume online. For example, I design my CV on Photoshop but most of the places I apply to have systems that can’t read image files, so I format them into PDFs. Word documents and PDFs are always your safest bet.
2) Don’t use tables in your resume. That is a sure-fire way of not being able to apply for jobs online. I know that many professional resume writers use tables. The tracking system a lot of employers use, cannot read tables and the system will automatically reject your resume. Also, tables are ugly – and looks matter when it comes to CVs!
3.) Spelling and tense matters. Again, it seems like a simple one, but proofread your spelling and grammar! Run your CV through Grammarly before you send, it doesn’t hurt to be extra safe! So many people whose CVs I’ve seen change tense mid-text too. It’s really jarring so make sure everything is written in the same tense (unless of course, it’s talking about a present job, and then previous employment).
4) Font and size are important. My favourite fonts to use are:
Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Lato, Calibri, Courier New, Open Sans.
Note: if you can’t read it, no one else can either!
Another Note: Don’t use comic sans, or anything remotely similar. If you use comic sans and actually think that’s okay, you might not deserve a job. Just saying.
5) Have a resume that can be uploaded. Make sure you have an actual document, not something that you copy and paste into an uploading file destination. It doesn’t read those types of uploads. Utilize free cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc), so that you can apply high volumes of jobs within a short space of time.
6) One to two page CVs are usually the standard. When I went to an employment event at Bauer Media (Owner of Heat, Grazia, FHM, Kerrang! and more), they said they much preferred seeing one page CVs. I recently saw a CV that was six pages long, and I knew if they sent it to an employer… as harsh as it sounds, they probably wouldn’t read it. This is the most common mistake I see, and fortunately the easiest mistake to fix. You can simply improve your CV by cutting out areas that aren’t necassary. Keep it catered to the job requirements of the position your applying for; relevancy is key.
7) No photos! At the same event, employers told everyone who attended the CV workshop that photos on CVs were extremely off-putting, especially if it’s not relevant to the job. Unless your appearance is relevant, such as a modelling job, or a role where you’ll appear on TV, there is no reason for you to include a photo. As a rule, I’d stray from attaching a picture of yourself unless the application specifically asks you to do so.
8) Online presence matters. Many employers are researching potential candidates online via social media before they even call you for an interview. So, make sure your platforms are squeaky clean (and consider posting more of your work on social media, if relevant) posting vulgar, hateful things on social media or make everything you have private. I personally provide the employer with all of my social media links on my CV, encouraging them to investigate so they know I have nothing to hide.
9) Network, network, network! Times are changing and these days, we need to be networking ourselves to get the low-down on companies and roles that are opening-up. Follow people who work in your industry, employers and companies on Twitter. Jump on apps like LinkedIn, Hiive, and Shapr. This way, employers could even end up finding you! And you’ll hear about many more interesting roles.
10) Relevancy is key. If you’re applying for a job in a bakery, your travel and tourism GCSE isn’t relevant. Personally, I think if you have a higher education qualification, your GCSEs are irrelevant, too. Just take them off your CV, no one is going to ask you for further information about what you did in school. Keep things relevant. Think about your application from the perspective of the employer. Do they care about this particular thing you’ve wrote on your CV? Is it related to the job your applying for? If the answer’s no, take it off.
I hope this post helps you with employability! What changes have you made to improve your CV? I’d love to know & it would help out other reads, so leave a comment below!