Written by Dave Cullen
Along with your birth certificate and passport, a CV is perhaps the most important document in your possession. The course of your career and personal life is determined by how effectively you are able to present your background and skillsets. Everyday recruiters and employers reject a considerable number of well qualified candidates on the basis of an underwhelming CV. When it comes to job seeking, being able to showcase your career experience and skills to the utmost determines the difference between success and failure.
The following 5 step quick guide will help you to optimise your existing CV and make it easier to read. For more comprehensive advice on writing your CV, check out: ‘The do’s and don’ts of CV writing’.
1. Replace objective statements with a personal profile.
Objective statements fail to give the recruiter any sense of your character. An example of such a statement might read as follows: “Highly motivated technician seeking to obtain a position as an engineering specialist in the field of maintenance”. Space is at a premium on your CV so the opening line should be a personal statement, which allows you to outline your skills and experience.
This is how the above objective statement would sound if it was rewritten as a personal statement: “Results driven technician with over 5 years’ experience in the field of engineering maintenance”. This summary is not only more concise but it is also written with the reader in mind. Personal profiles are more successful than objective ones because they demonstrate what a candidate can offer to an employer.
2. Develop an achievements-based CV
Your past experience should be written not as a list of duties and responsibilities but as achievements. Responsibility-based CVs fail to demonstrate how you went above and beyond the requirements of your role. They also don’t give employers any insight into what sets you apart from everyone else and what you bring to a company.
3. Condense your sentences
As we outlined in our CV writing blog, these achievements should be written in bullet point format using professional shorthand. Avoid writing whole sentences like: “I coordinated and managed all of the day-to-day operations of the east coast sales department”. This statement should read: “Coordinated and managed day-to-day operations of east coast sales department”. Not only is this sentence punchier, it also helps to reduce your CV’s word count.
4. Sprinkle in some keywords
With high volumes of applications being received every day, recruiters have had to enlist the help of automated keyword search algorithms to filter through CVs. Ensure that your CV is Search engine optimised by including keywords related to the job opportunity you are applying for. Such keywords can be found in the job ad description.
5. Avoid cramming your CV onto one page
Many jobseekers take the ‘one page’ CV rule a little too literally. They sometimes attempt to find elaborate ways of squeezing in their professional experience onto one single A4 page. For example they might try reducing the font size dramatically. Such techniques are counterproductive and will only make your CV a challenge to read. If you have considerable experience, qualifications and achievements, trying to compress your professional career into a short, arbitrary length is only doing you a disservice.
If you must exceed one page try not to go beyond the third quarter of the second. As a means to help reduce the word count further, you should remove irrelevant or extraneous content like the common closing statement: “References available upon request”. Employers and recruiters are already aware that they must request your references and this sentence is a convention that has come to mean: “This is the end of my CV”.