First of all, unless you aced your Latin or French exams it would pay to check you have spelled ‘Curriculum Vitae' correctly and haven't randomly applied accents to ‘Resume' where they don't belong. You may wonder why this is important if you aren't applying for a spelling job or looking for a career in linguistics. If you can't get this basic detail right – which these days means deliberately ignoring the red line under the word – how can we trust that you have got the other details correct? Just as you might make some effort on your first impression when you walk into a room, your shirt is tucked in and your breath isn't toxic, you need to make the right first impression on your CV. Typos distract the reader so no matter how eloquently you explain that your only fault is that you're a perfectionist, sloppy spell-checking will show you up.
Our next tip might be a bit controversial; don't include a photo. While it is definitely good to have a professional photo on LinkedIn to show that you are a real person and for people to pick you from everyone else in the world with your name, most recruiters agree it doesn't work as well on your CV. A bad photo is just bad, a good photo looks like your trying to distract us from your experience. You wouldn't send your professional CV for a modelling job so why send your glamour shots if you are looking for a professional role? A photo with your family is too cute and one with your pet a little sad. And what is the story with blokes and fish? What are you trying to say? That you're smarter or stronger than a snapper? We would usually assume you are, until we see the fish photo.
That's got our pet hates out of the way (We don't hate your pets, just we don't find that information helps us find you a good contract. The wholesomeness of your relationship with your family is also interesting but not relevant). Here are some other tips that might help your CV get greater cut-through with recruiters and employers:
Don't limit yourself to two pages. If you have a wealth of experience, share it. Obviously it is best to provide more detail on the recent and relevant experience – your primary school achievements are unlikely to fit this category – but a complete overview of your entire experience is useful.
Include a career summary. If your CV is one of many, it really helps if there is a summary of the dates, roles and companies to see if your experience is a likely match at a glance. Of course it needs to be backed up with detail.
Be specific with dates. A role you held from 2013-2014 could be a period of two months or two years whereas May 2013 –September 2014 leaves no doubt about how much experience you gained.
Don't leave things out. Short contracts, roles that didn't work out and companies that no longer exist often disappear from CVs. Don't make the reader ask, "What else are you hiding?”
Show you are IT savvy. Probably more relevant for people not working in the IT industry, make it clear what software you have used and what systems you have experience with.
Don't assume. Just because you know your previous company intimately, it might not be a household name, especially if it is from your overseas experience. A one-line summary about the business will help avoid assumptions about the relevance of that experience.
Stick to the facts. Leave the qualitative assessment of your skills to the interviewer. Of course you think you're good at what you do, just keep your CV factual because it is possible your own opinions of your capability might be biased.
Quantify your achievements. While merely saying you're good at your job is pointless, proving what you have achieved is commendable. If you can measure your success and compare it to expectations we'll have much greater confidence in you. State specific achievements for each role or contract and you'll give a greater impression of capability.
How do we contact you? We no longer need your home address or fax number but we'll need a mobile phone number and email address to contact you about the right roles.
Feel free to send us your CV…