Always keep your CV alive!

19th July 2021

A CV needs to breathe. It needs to be current, relevant and appealing. Anybody in recruitment will tell you – keep it vibrant. We have all seen them; a CV that looks like it came off Gutenberg’s original printing press with language to match. Times New Roman. Twenty-five thousand words of autobiographical detail. Pages and pages of minutiae, a forensic examination of each role from a dim and distant past. These documents do not get read. At least, not for the reasons you would hope.

Not many people are ‘good’ at CVs. In a sense, having a highly polished and beautifully executed CV suggests someone who takes inordinate time, or goes to substantial expense, to keep it sparkling – perhaps a consultant, a contract project manager or someone who just needs to be ready. It pays to keep it fresh because, especially in a highly dynamic (nearly) post-pandemic market, you might unexpectedly need it.

Things to think about:

  • What are you trying to achieve? Is the CV for distribution or are you keeping it current ‘just in case’? Are you targeting a specific role or keeping it general?
  • Understand who will be reading it; if it is for a recruiter or multiple recruiters, remember to think about key words and skills that often get picked up in software content scanning. Research the skills and key words that get your information in front of the right people with the greatest impact and get them in there. If it is for a specific person for a specific role, make it attractive for positive reasons – understand the role and (if you can) the priorities for the hiring manager and make your CV fit.
  • Language is important – power words, positive messaging and properly structured sentences all help to create a clear and impactful document. Poorly presented information will go straight into the round file.
  • Build a narrative of success and delivery. If you have been set targets and achieved them, let everyone know. This is not a moment to allow modesty to take over – make sure your successes are up front and centre.
  • Appreciate, but do not be a slave to, format. Rules that were applied to CVs twenty years ago may no longer be appropriate now, so make yourself aware of the current practices and consider them when formatting yours. But individuality is important.

How do you make a CV breathe? Take it out from time to time and review it. It is vital document and if time is of the essence, being ready will pay dividends.

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