Once upon a time, an average curriculum vitae (CV) would get you through the door to an interview. That all changed around 15 years ago when competition for jobs became much fiercer.
Now, in many cases, applicants are faced with the added difficulty of getting their CV past artificial intelligence (AI) technology. These AI algorithms scan for specific data and determine which candidates recruiters should contact first.
It’s never been more criticalimportant to ensure you have an up-to-date, powerful CV. Here are our tips for how to write a resume that will ensure your relevance in today’s competitive job market.
Remove Positions That Are No Longer Relevant
If you list roles on your CV that are from 10 years ago, or they’re far more entry-level than you are now, take them off.
However, if you’ve worked in one position at a company for the last 20 years, your CV may look sparse without any listed work before then. In that scenario, summarize the previous roles by stating only the job title, employer, and time you worked there.
Above all, feel free to remove roles that say nothing about the kind of professional you are today.
Showcase Your Skills and Achievements
Don’t be afraid to highlight the skills that will impress an employer or recruiter in your industry. Have you recently taken a class or started using a new management style with your employees? Your CV should reflect your soft skills—those that help you fit in a workplace—and technical skills required for the job itself.
Focus on a few criticalkey skills and mention them repeatedly across several roles. From this, AI should be able to work out roughly how long you’ve demonstrated that skill.
Now that many employers have adopted remote working practices, it’s worth mentioning any collaboration tools you’re adept in, such as Asana or Google Docs. On the other hand, basic skills like Microsoft Office are assumed for most office roles and can be taken off your CV for good.
People often downplay their achievements on their CV and make too much of their duties. A prospective employer is likely to have a good idea of what you were doing day- to -day. Instead, what will you say about your performance to convince them you’ll make a positive impact on their team?
Update Your CV’s Design
The design, formatting, and readability of your CV are vital. Here are a few pointers:
- Your CV must cover only a page or two at most.
- Unusual fonts can confuse AI technology. Use a standard font like Calibri, Arial, or Georgia, with between 10- and 12-point type.
- Ensure there’s plenty of white space. If words are crammed in, the person recruiting will lose interest fast.
- Make sure formatting is consistent throughout—that includes spacing, headers, and font type and size.
- Replace long paragraphs with bullet points—no longer than three lines each.
- Change all written numbers to numerals, and all measurement words (like “percent”) into symbols (%). You’ll save space and improve readability.
- Don’t waste valuable CV real estate by stating that “References are available upon request.” If your future employer wants references, they’ll ask for them in a later conversation.
- Rename your CV file to “First name_Surname_CV” so it will easily be found by an employer sifting through many documents on their PC.
Get the Sections in the Right Order
Employers spend an average ofonly seven seconds reviewing a CV before moving on to the next one. If you’re curious about how to write a CV that will catch their attention and keep them reading, it starts with the order of your information.
Begin with a headline that gives the reader an immediate sense of who you are as a professional. Ideally, it needs to be 10 words or fewer. How will you describe yourself to spark their interest?
Next, write a brief overview that exhibits the best of your skills and experience. A few bullet points or a short paragraph is most appropriate here.
List your most recent work experience, then move back in chronological order down the page. Employers prefer this chronological format, as they’re more accustomed to reading CVs this way. However, if you strongly feel your latest position doesn’t reflect the experience needed for a new role you’re applying to, you could opt for a functional CV instead.
Your educational experience will often be sought out later on, or not at all, so it doesn’t need to grab the same attention as other areas of your CV. List your qualifications at the bottom or along the right-hand side.
Use Active Language
Using active language when updating your resume means two things:
- Write with action verbs like “implemented,” “initiated,” and “engineered” to demonstrate your level of involvement in a task. Do a little research to find strong verbs for specific intentions.
- Avoid passive language to the best of your ability. Instead, use concise language that puts you at the center of the situation.
Be careful to steer clear of dull language and cliches that don’t say much, like being a “great team player” or having “good communication skills.”
Image by Jopwell from Pexels
Provide Clear Examples to Back Up Your Claims
It means almost nothing to simply claim you have a particular skill or you’ve demonstrated a specifica certain behavior. For example, “I repeatedly demonstrate leadership skills” only momentarily piques interest, with no evidence to back up your assertions.
Instead, state measurable results for the recruiter or hiring manager to see. Our example from above transforms into, “During a project to assess the department’s financial sustainability, I coordinated a team of four colleagues to measure, compile, and present our findings to the board.”
Appeal to AI
Here are some more tips on how to write a CV that caters to the AI algorithm:
- Write with acronyms only if they’re universally recognizable. If you’re not sure, stick to the full terms. Even if a hiring manager understands an industry-specific acronym, AI may not.
- Make sure your CV is tailored to every job you apply for, and be sure all text is relevant.
- Avoid using company-specific job titles that might not be understood by AI looking for certain keywords.
- Take a look at job descriptions for your specific area of expertise and note the most common keywords. Then check through the skills section of your CV to make sure they are all featured in there.
Every single word of your CV matters. When you implement the tips we’ve given here, you’ll have a CV fit to help you find the professional future you deserve.