Top 7 CV improvements
1. Keep it short & sweet
Try to keep your CV between two and five pages. It needs to be clear, concise and memorable. Think about the person reading it - with fifty other applications to go through, they will likely lose interest if there is too much information.
On your front page, include a professional photo of yourself to personalise your application. See section 4 for details.
There's no need to list your full address. Employers just want to get an idea of where you are located relative to their office.
Make sure your mobile number and email address are located somewhere obvious on your CV. Don’t hide them in a header or footer.
With digital technology continuously growing, most people are now on LinkedIn. This is a great platform for professional networking, and it's worth including a link to your profile on your CV. Recruiters often look you up on LinkedIn prior to reading your CV.
Include a brief paragraph about your career objectives. For example, “Driven sales professional with proven record of achievements. Currently seeking permanent full time employment with a progressive firm within the Pharmaceuticals industry.”
Only include education that is relevant to the role you are applying for. Your highest level of education is usually sufficient - employers don't need to know where you went to primary school.
List your employment history in chronological order, with the most recent at the top. For each company, include a link to their website and / or a brief description, so the recruiter can look look up the company to find out more.
Have your references' contact details available upon request. There is no need to have them in your application, unless specifically asked to. The last thing you want is for a recruiter to contact your current employer!
2. Formatting matters
Space is your friend
Recruiters don’t want to see a CV with too much information squished together.
This may seem like a small change, but it will make it much easier for the recruiter to read and skim through your CV.
Go easy on the colours
Fancy fonts and bright colours can easily become a distraction. There are so many shapes and shades of colours that you don’t know where to focus your attention.
Substance over style
Using colour for headings is a great way to draw attention to the different sections on your CV – just don’t use a colour that is too bright.
Simple and easy to read font
Extravagant fonts are completely unnecessary and like excessive colours, will detract focus from what matters. We recommend using Arial.
Bullet points instead of paragraphs
Bullet points act as points of focus, helping the recruiter draw out the information they are looking for.
3. Proofread & spell check
Often a spelling or grammar mistake is the reason why recruiters discount your application. A common one we come across is ‘Manager’ being misspelt as ‘Manger’.
4. Include a photograph
Include a picture of yourself to personalise your application. Make sure that the picture is a professional representation of you. Wear professional / smart-casual clothes and be in a neutral setting.
A cropped picture of yourself in a social setting won't win you any points, especially with a random hand in the picture.
This is also not what employers want to see. You may look presentable, but what they are looking for is professionalism.
This simple and professional head shot provides an impression of reliability and a solid work ethic.
5. Tailor your CV
Tailor your CV with your prospective employer in mind. You want to demonstrate how they will benefit by hiring you instead of someone else.
Focus on matching your skills and experience to the selection criteria or requirements they have listed in the job advertisement.
For example, if a job ad lists the criteria of "demonstrated ability to regularly achieve sales KPIs", you might state "consistently achieved monthly sales targets, with a customer retention rate of 80%, and 20% new business each month" in your CV.
6. Position yourself
Play to your strengths and put the important information first. Work experience should be in reverse chronological order, as your most recent employment is most probably your most relevant. You should also include all of your achievements and accomplishments.
7. Be specific & quantify
A proven record with percentage figures and target will attract attention, so make sure you quantify your skills and accomplishments.
Which of the following do you think is more likely to attract attention? "Successfully lowering expenses for the company" or "increased cost efficiency by 25% within a 12 month period"?
8. Five critical CV don'ts
The truth will always come out, whether it’s through reference checks, mutual acquaintances or a slip of the tongue further down the track. Be honest about your reasons for leaving, employment gaps and previous achievements.
Use a professional email address
Don't use your childhood email - an address like [email protected] will not make a good first impression. Use an email address that is simple and professional.
Don't include certain details
Leave out any information that could be used to discriminate against you. This includes your date of birth, marital status, race, gender, etc. These details do not impact your ability to do the job, and therefore do not need to be included in your CV.
Don't include referee details
The purpose of your resume is to secure you an interview. Referees do not contribute to this and should come later in the process.
Don't leave unexplained gaps
Include dates on all jobs and explain any gaps in employment. Leaving dates out may suggest you have something to hide.
Job hunting tips & advice