The one great thing about the new year (apart from the parties, food and drink etc) is the natural feeling of making a fresh start.
Why not begin with the most fundamental thing you can – your CV. Here are four steps to making sure your CV is right and ready to go in your campaign to get the job and career you really want in the new year.
What have you done? Look at how your job or responsibilities have changed over the last year. This includes those all-important (but easy to overlook) transferrable skills. All the skills and experiences you acquired may be useful in your new CV. Did you take a sabbatical, did you run a charity campaign, did you learn a language, and were you given new responsibilities at work? Analyse all of these things and highlight them in your new CV – especially if they show career development and ambition.
Removing or keeping content
You CV should be concise and compelling. It is there to make employers want to meet you; to get another look at you. We all know how recruiters and employers only spend a few seconds scanning a pile of CVs so the first thing that has to go is waffle. Get rid of anything that doesn't have a direct bearing on the jobs you are seeking or which doesn't tell the reader something about you and your qualities. Equally importantly. Don't be sentimental about keeping the old material.
Sometimes you have to let something go which you think is good. The guide here is to ask yourself “is this good ‘thing' really relevant to the job or career I am going for?” In other words try to keep your CV relevant at all times.
You only have so much room on a CV – usually it's one or two very well-written, compelling pages. Everything on there needs to be tightly edited and earn its place on your CV. Obviously, if you only have a few skills and experiences you have to ‘point them up' but avoid repetition as this looks clumsy and desperate.
You've got the content and you've edited your words carefully to make them interesting and powerful. So what about layout? A poorly laid out CV, with information is a visual turn-off. Not only that but having a poor layout means that your reader has to go looking for information about you. So no matter how good your story, your CV is hard to read and takes time to digest - time which, unfortunately, most employers won't take.
If you are unsure how to layout a CV, take a look at some of Monster's CV templates which can really help you get your information in order.
Remember, Monster also has cover letter templates which show you in a few clear words how to write the perfect cover letter to accompany your CV.
Test drive your CV
You can't spend too much time improving your CV and it should be an on-going process. However, once you've finished it and are happy with the content and the layout, get some feedback on it.
Send your CV to some friends, colleagues or even old college tutors (if you can elicit the help of a professional recruitment consultant, so much the better). Let these people give you an honest impression of your CV. Ask them for genuine thoughts and feedback. Maybe ask them the following?
- Did it grab you?
- Was it interesting?
- Did it take too long to get to the point?
- Was the information easy to read?
- Was the information relevant?
- Did your CV reflect your best points?
- What was the tone of the CV - did it sound too smug, too cocky – or not confident enough?
A final word
Every employer is not an expert – many employers will not be professional recruitment consultants. One thing every reader will soon spot (even if they are not expert) is a sloppy CV. They'll also spot when you simply redrafted an old CV and adapted it for a new position. As with most things in life – the more effort you put in, the better will be your results. So put in the work on your CV and you could be looking at a very happy new year indeed.