7 tips for a better CV

7 Tips for a better CV

Regardless of where you are in your career, an effective and up-to-date CV should be a key part of your professional portfolio, Lynn Elsey writes.


Career experts, including Fiona Craig (LSJ Career Coach), Alex Gotch (Robert Walters), Rachel Clements (Centre for Corporate Health) and Amanda Augustine (Ladders, an online job marketing site) offer the following suggestions for maximising the impact of your CV:

1. Keep it up to date. Not only will you be prepared for any unexpected time when you need one – a last minute speaking engagement, firm mergers, applying for funding for start-up – the process of updating your CV is a good opportunity to take a strategic look at your current role and career.

2. If you haven’t updated your CV in years, consider using a template. The world moves on, including recruiting, which means expectations for CVs have changed since you last applied for a position. Even if you decide not to rework your CV, templates provide useful ideas for updating your skills and achievements.

3. Always include a link to your professional online profile or website. And, yes, this means ensuring they are up-to-date and relevant.

4. Demonstrate value. Just listing your skills isn’t enough; you need to show how you can provide value and why you are good at what you do, including specific actions taken and outcomes produced.

5. Keep the design clean. Avoid using colour and elaborate fonts. Remember, the information is just a summary, use bullet points to note key achievements. Delete “references on request” at the end, this is obvious.

6. Use keywords. These allow you to quickly summarise and highlight your key areas of experience and skills and also show a potential employer you know what they are looking for.

7. Limit your CV to 3 pages. This will be a challenge for many experienced people, but keep in mind that on average, recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing CVs. Include only the most recent or relevant roles. Other positions, especially if the job title or firm is impressive, can be included in a “prior experience section”.