How To Spring Clean Your CV

Are you sending out the same stale CV over and over and not getting any responses?

It’s easily done. You bang together a pretty good CV, all your employment history is on there with all your grades and all your relevant work experience, so you send, send, send. But wait, wait, wait: it could be time to freshen up.

Hearing nothing back could be a sign that your CV isn’t hitting the spot. Employers receive hundreds of applications, and if yours is generic, poorly designed, or focuses on the wrong skillset, you could be brushed aside. Your CV is the first impression an employer will get of you and your work values, so it needs to be absolutely sparkling.


Take a fresh look

It’s good practice to review your CV often. It’s a representation of you after all, so take the time to polish up and rearrange your CV to look its best (imagine dusting your mantelpiece before having guests round for a dinner party).

The design of your CV is so important because it needs to be visually appealing and spark an immediate interest in you as a potential candidate. Ask yourself, does it have a simple layout that’s easy to cast an eye over, or is it an unattractive mass of black text? Is your font professional and is it the right size?

Top tip: Save and send your CV as a PDF file (unless the application asks otherwise) to avoid losing your careful formatting.


Dust off your skills

Declaring your proficiency in Microsoft Word won’t cut it anymore, unfortunately. Employers want to know what you can bring to the table, and they want proof of your skillset. Hearing about your organisational skills is fine, but what have you organised? Can you show them your creativity? Have you completed any language, computing or health and safety courses?

Jot down everything you’ve achieved, fundraised for or partaken in and cherry pick the most relevant skills to put on your CV, depending upon the job you’re applying for.


Getting right into the corners

Editing is so important when it comes to your CV. It ideally shouldn’t be more than two pages long, so if necessary you can axe the two months you spent working in Greggs the bakers in 2008. If it won’t help you get the dream job, it shouldn’t make the final cut on the CV.

Including your interests and hobbies can be an asset if you keep it short, snappy, and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Rambling on about “socialising with friends” and “travelling” won’t score you any points, but “organised a Workaway trip to Portugal with friends for four weeks in 2015” would be much more likely to grab an employer’s attention.

Always get someone to look over your CV to check you haven’t missed a spot. A friend or relative is fine, but if you’re lucky enough to know someone in the business who wouldn’t mind casting an experienced eye over your application, even better.


The final flourishes

The title of your CV is the first thing your employer will see, and “My CV 2” is akin to a limp handshake as far as first impressions go. Always put your full name, the job you’re applying for, and avoid using all capitals or all lowercase, as it looks unprofessional and sloppy.

Remember that a lot of employers now use social media to look up prospective employees, so it can be worth your while to dust off and update your LinkedIn page too, and make some valuable connections while you’re at it. Endorse your friends for their relevant skills and they’ll endorse you back. Make sure your photos on social media aren’t a mess of undignified university snapshots. Remove tag, remove tag.

Making an effort to tidy up the little things and tie up loose ends can be time-consuming, but ensuring your CV is tailored to suit every application could be the difference between getting looked over and getting overlooked.



Katie Smith is a bookworm, Firefly fan and aspiring writer. She studied English Literature at Bangor University and now lives in London.

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