First of all, as much as you don’t want to hear it, it’s important that your CV is only 1 A4 page, at the VERY most 2 sides of A4. (Unless you’re a seasoned employee with 20 odd years of experience, then you can definitely get away with 2 sides of A4).
I know, it’s heart breaking because you want to say everything you possibly can and choosing what to cut out is difficult.
But trust me, be selective in your examples and wording and only have a 1 sided A4 CV that’s sleek and easy to read. Rather than a 2-page mess of text-boxes everywhere and page margins now a distant memory.
There are two steps to fitting everything onto your CV.
1) EDIT. EDIT. EDIT.
You’ve got to be a bit ruthless.
I know it’s hard to detach yourself from all your hard work on paper, and in real-life, but you’ve got to become more clinical.
Handy Tip #1: After you’ve written your first draft (you know it’s too long and too wordy), let it sit for a day or two before coming back to it to help you become more ruthless in your editing phase.
(If you don’t have the time to do that, then you can of course send it to me; I’ll get ruthless for you — in a friendly way of course).
When you sit back down with it, take it one chunk at a time. Read it (obvs), and then ask yourself: “What is this sentence demonstrating?”
You need to know exactly what purpose every sentence has, so you can determine which are the most important examples for the specific role you’re applying for.
Maybe you’ve written something like: “goal-orientated, shown by my preparation & training for London Marathon.” First of all, cool. It’s good to include more personal pieces of info. But when space is tight and you can show this skill in a more powerful, relevant work-related example, cut that out.
While you’re going through your CV, annotate each sentence with what it demonstrates and shows. Once you’ve finished you should have a first draft with pencil annotations all over it.
Now you can see which skills you’ve demonstrated that match what the job ad asks for.
Circle those bad-boys.
So, for example, if the job ad specifies you need to be “flexible and have mastered time management”, then circle all your examples that demonstrate this.
Handy Tip #2: your CV should demonstrate at least ¾ of the job ad skills mentioned, (obviously the more the better). If when you’ve done this edit you notice you repeat the same skill, and/or miss out on ticking off other skills mentioned, then go back, choose only the best example of the skill you’ve repeated to keep. Then think: how you can show the other skills you haven’t yet mentioned.
Once you’ve mentioned all those skills (+ sprinkled a few other skills / interesting traits for good measure), it’s time to think about the order of your CV.
In case you didn’t know the sad news, research shows recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. 1 I know, 6 seconds.
So, it’s REALLY important you organize your CV clearly and succinctly. Which leads us nicely into the second step of fitting everything onto your CV …
2) Design, baby.
After you’ve redrafted your CV to hit all the job ad specifications you need to order your CV so where you mention how you fit their bill stands out, and is close to the top.
The number 1) easiest way to make your experience stand out, is to start your bullet points using the keywords from the job ad, so it catches the recruiters eye.
If you have large paragraphs with the job ad keywords drowning in text, it’s less likely the recruiter will even see it.
Therefore you need to think carefully about the design of your CV.
If you’re applying for a more creative job, there are TONS of cool ways you can stand out in your applications using the creative skills you’d need in your job, think: animations, alternative paper shapes, or even digital creations.
But even if you’re not in the creative industry, it’s important your CV’s design is sleek, eye-catching, but not too artsy-without-any-information.
What’s the easiest way to make your CV readable & organized? Titles.
Usually these titles will be:
|the important information (who you are, what you do, how they can contact you)|
|keep this succinct by just including the subjects and the grades.|
|you can separate this out into two sections “relevant” and “related” if you have less position-specific experience.|
|This can be a list of skills the job ad mentions, but you didn’t already mention in your experience sections.|
It’s important the design of your CV helps focus the recruiter to easily read the information they want to know and you have to show. So CV’s are usually written and laid out in the above order.
You can experiment with a little bit of colour or bolder/stronger fonts for headings, or even simple add-ins like line separators can make your CV stand out and look more professional.
As to other parts of design, you can play around with borders, headers and colour.
But don’t go too crazy …
It is really easy to get carried away though.
So if you’re unsure on how to make it stand out (but not like in a 2007 Britney kind of way), you can always send me your CV.
I’ll polish it up to make your resume last longer than 6 seconds and get you into that interview. 😉
1 Evans, Will. “Keeping an Eye on Recruiter Behavior: New Study Clarifies Recruiter Decision-Making.” The Ladders, 2012 <cdn.theladders.net/static/images/basicSite/pdfs/TheLadders-EyeTracking-StudyC2.pdf.>