If you’re sending off your CV but not getting any interview invitations then you have to ask yourself… what’s wrong with my CV? More often than not, there will be one or more fundamental issues with your CV. The trick is to identify what the problems are and address them right away. You can quickly and easily improve a CV to improve your chances of securing an interview.
Here’s my 5 top tips to improve a CV:
1) Your CV is Too long
Whilst curriculum vitae means ‘course of life’ in Latin, you don’t have to take that too literally and account for every single aspect of your life. Whilst I understand you feel you need to write down everything you’ve done in the past, it really isn’t required. Sometimes less is more.
It’s practically impossible to list every single skill, experience and academic achievement on a CV without it running to umpteen pages that won’t get read.
When you’re creating your CV, consider these points:
- Limit your CV to no more than 2 pages long
- Focus on the skills and experience most relevant to the job you’re applying for
- Restrict yourself to only detailing key job responsibilities and achievements
- Place primary focus on your last 5-10 years’ experience, only the most recent is relevant
2) You Lack Experience
Everyone has to start somewhere and if you don’t have much actual hands-on work experience, it can be difficult to write a CV that portrays what skills you do have. One way around this is to write a skills-based CV. Skills-based or functional CVs are a good way to demonstrate what you do have to offer an employer. Alternatively, think outside the box a little; have you done any voluntary work, been on any committees or been involved in anything which has taught you valuable skills that could be transferred in to the workplace?
3) You’ve been a bit of a Job Hopper
Sometimes, for whatever reason, things just don’t work out with an employer. The trouble is, it can make your CV look a bit messy and it raises alarm bells with prospective employers. There are a few ways you can tackle this.
Firstly, you can include a career objective section to outline that you’ve been gaining a host of skills and experiences to give you a good grounding the role you’re applying for.
Secondly, if your jobs have comprised similar tasks and responsibilities, you could exclude some of the ones that carry less weight. If this makes your work history timeline look bitty, then just use years, rather than months and years, to smooth over the timeframe.
Thirdly, you could consolidate those jobs if there are similar in terms of title and role responsibilities. Consolidating some of your jobs, particularly if they were temporary jobs or agency work, is an ideal way to highlight experience without looking like a job hopper.
4) You have Gaps in your CV
You’re not alone, many people have gaps in their CV but more often than not, these can be filled by using a few techniques. Whilst you should never ever lie on your CV, sometimes you can smooth over the cracks by including valuable skills and experience gained by other means.
You’ll find a dedicated blog post on gaps in your CV in our advice centre but in short, here are 5 key ways you can cover gaps in your CV:
- Travelling – if you’ve been travelling, write a couple of short bullet point statements outlining where you’ve been, what skills and experiences you’ve gained.
- Maternity Leave – Most women take time off after having a baby, employers expect that there’ll be a break of a year or two. That said, do note that you’ve been on leave, rather than leave that timeframe blank.
- Voluntary Work – If you’ve been working in a voluntary capacity, note this on your CV with a couple of bullet point statements explaining your role and the positives you bought to the organisation.
- Compassionate Leave – Perhaps you’ve been caring for a sick or elderly relative or friend during this time. Again, note it down to fill in the gap with a very brief explanation.
- Education – If you’ve returned to education, note it down. Again a brief note referring to your academic history will suffice. We’d also recommend that you put education before work experience if the return to education is very recent and will aid your application.
- Industry Knowledge – Demonstrate that you’ve spent this time improving your industry knowledge; conducting research, reading journals, attending conferences and industry seminars, etc.
- Think Yearly – As mentioned above, you don’t have to use months and years on a CV. Listing years only will suffice and can be a good way to cover up any small gaps you may have on your CV.
5) You don’t have the Right Qualifications or Experience
It’s really important that you scrutinise the job and person specifications for any roles you’re applying for. If you don’t have the right qualifications or experience you won’t get shortlisted, wasting your time and money submitting an application.
If your lack of skills and experience is hindering your applications, consider how you can fill this gap. Can you apply for a part-time training course, a distance learning or online course? Can you gain some direct industry work experience by volunteering a few hours a week? Making a little effort will not only enhance your own skill-set but it will also demonstrate commitment and willingness to learn to a potential employer.
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