Are you looking for a job and in desperate need of some good CV writing tips? When browsing the internet, you found a lot of information but you are not sure which ones you should actually believe? We asked our team of recruitment consultants to review the most popular resume tips to give you clear recommendations on creating the perfect CV and help you improve your CV writing skills for your next big career move!
Keep It Simple & Skimmable
The lay-out of your CV is more important than some might think. It can determine if a recruiter keeps on reading your CV or not. The easier you make it for them to find the important parts of your resume, the better. Therefore, make sure to keep your CV as simple as possible. For example, only including the subheadings and the subsections you really need and those that are relevant for the position you are applying for. So, don’t be afraid to delete certain parts from a CV template! But do make sure to put your contact details on the first page, though.
You could also align your content to the left to make it more skimmable, as this is the first thing recruiters do upon receiving a CV. Likewise, using reversed chronological order will make it easier to determine your latest work experience and education. Highlighting your key skills or using bold/italic in a strategic way is a good tip as well. Finally, make sure your CV is up to date at all times and make it keyword friendly too.
This way they can look for specific skills and see in a blink of an eye if you are the candidate they are looking for. The main takeaway here is ‘the less effort the recruiter needs to put into making sense of your CV, the more effort they will be willing to put into finding your dream job’!
“Very true! We usually screen the cv’s in a few seconds, so it should be very straightforward, while keeping enough details to help us understand the real role the person played in their previous experience(s): title, and a few bullet points to describe their main responsibilities. Full paragraphs of text will most likely not be read: being concise is key.
Make sure to always include your language skills and other key skills for the position to match the criteria displayed in the job description.
Regarding the use of key words: as most recruiters now work with databases / CRM and using BOLEAN reach for their initial selection phase, this can really make a difference. Therefore, using commonly used key words is more important than a job title that looks good!”
2. Make It Look Good
This might sound a bit contradictory to the above but simple does not have to mean boring. Make sure your CV is nice to look at and catches the eye of the recruiters. Standing out from the crowd could make the difference between continuing to the next steps in the recruitment process or not. The tricky part here is finding a good balance between being creative and professional / readable at the same time.
Using existing CV templates (on sites like Canva) and personalizing them, can help you with that balance. Using a template also ensure you that all the important parts are included in your resume, but don’t be afraid to leave out some parts if you feel like it doesn’t apply to you or the job. Which font you use for your CV can also make a difference.
Using fonts that are hard to read or a bit childish don’t come cross well, so stay away from Comic Sans and Curlz MZ for the moment. For example, Verdana or Arial are a much better choice here.
“This is so true! Avoid very graphic CV’s or using too many colors, unless the job you are applying for requires a lot of creativity.”
Stand out & Keep it real
This probably is the most straightforward tip you will come across. If you want to get hired, you need to stand out from the rest. This doesn’t mean you have to do something crazy with your CV like putting GIF’s on it. You just need find the right balance between skills and experience, while staying honest. We know this can be though if you don’t have a lot of experience yet, but everything you did in the past can be an added value.
Think about the responsibility you learned during one of your student jobs, for example. Don’t forget to also emphasize the skills you learned, the promotions you made and your accomplishments during those experiences. Also tailoring the CV to the different companies or industries you apply for might be more successful than using the same CV over and over again.
“Achievements are the most important thing a recruiter should know about you. For example: think about what your added value was in your previous experiences.
Stay humble, but don’t hesitate to recognize when you have had a positive impact on something!”
4. What to add
Moving onto what to what you actually have to add to your CV to make it more appealing. You can include a personal statement or small introduction to yourself, your current goals and your future aspirations. This immediately makes your resume a bit more human and clear.
As mentioned before, every experience counts when you don’t have a lot of experience yet but when you do already have a lot of experience, you need to exclude some things to make it less confusing. You can do this by only including jobs from the last 10-15 years. Including numbers to back you achievement or project could be an asset as well.
“If you put a small introduction, make sure to keep it short and to the point. As previously stated, big chunks of text usually fail to catch the recruiter’s attention in a fast-paced day.
For the most ancient roles on your CV, I would only put the company and title to keep your CV as compact as possible. Please try to keep your CV between 1 and 2 pages, without a blank page attached!”
5. General remarks
When you are done writing the content, please proofread everything and use a spell-checker. Don’t forget to look for conflicting dates and wrong contact details while doing this. Mistakes in your resume can come across very sloppy and unprofessional so try to avoid them at all costs. A general rule of thumb for resumes is sticking to minimum 1 page and maximum 2 pages to give the right amount of information for the recruiters to work with. Furthermore, it is recommended to use active language instead of passives. For example, say ‘write articles’ instead of ‘article writing’ to make your resume more appealing. When it comes to including pictures, the opinions are divided. Some say using a picture makes the recruitment process more human, while others say it could come across less professional.
“Proofreading is super important ! You should always ask several people to check your CV to make sure it is absolutely flawless in terms of spelling and grammar.
The use of pictures is a hard one as we have seen good CV’s with or without a picture on them. I think the general rule of thumb should be: if you use a picture, make sure it is the right one! Make sure it is professional enough, so please don’t put a holiday picture on there. Maybe even putting a black and white filter over it could make it a bit more professional.”
To sum up:
1) Keep it simple and skimmable
- Only relevant subheadings
- Use common keywords
- Coördinates on the first page
- Keep your resume up to date
- Reversed chronological order
2) Make it look good
- Use a CV template to find a balance
- Use fonts like Verdana or Arial
- Avoid very graphic/colorfull CV’s
3) Stand out and keep it real
- Find the right balance between skills and experience, while staying honest
- Emphasize learned skills, promotions and achievements
- Tailer your CV to the position
4) What to add
- Keep your intro short and to the point
- Keep your CVbetween 1-2 pages
- Only add experiences from the last 10-15 years
5) General remarks
- Proofread your CV
- Use active language
- If you use a picture, make sure it is professional enough