From Retro to Rad: Your 5-step CV Makeover


By Ashleyanne Spencer-Smith, CV Writer and Online Presence Manager at Consilium Careers.

Your CV is your primary personal marketing tool and you don’t want that tool to say you haven’t progressed in the past 30 years. Unless your name is Belinda Carlisle or Rick Astley, if you are using the same template that your dad used, your CV needs a makeover!

Previous generations reasonably expected to stay with their employers for the duration of their careers. But that trend began to change in 1980’s: as the height of women’s hair increased, so the length of average job tenure declined. Nowadays, employees stay with their employers an average of 4.5 years before moving to a new firm. As one Bloomberg analyst concluded, “The very concept of employee loyalty may be growing obsolete”.

Why is this important to you? Well, career hopping and population growth has flooded the job market with candidates and increased the pressure on hiring managers and recruiters so that they no longer have the time to sift through long, rambling CVs. If you don’t capture the recruiter’s attention in 30 seconds, chances are they will move on to another applicant.

In recent years, most CV’s have condensed into 2 pages that are focused specifically on answering the question “What can I do for your company?” So, let’s give your dad back his CV template and convert that retro ‘80s volume into a sleek, modern and sophisticated document that hiring managers will notice.

Here are 5 easy steps to take your CV from retro to rad:

Clean up the Document

Anything over 2 pages is wasting paper and the recruiter’s time. Clean up the document by getting rid of that pointless cover page, and labels for things like your first name, last name, employer, job title, etc. as they are self-explanatory.
Keep in mind that if something doesn’t apply to your ability to do the job you are applying for it doesn’t need to be on the CV, so don’t include information such as your hobbies and marital status.

Write in your own distinct voice

You can’t use the same old jargon as everyone else and expect to stand out. You need to find a new and authentic way of describing yourself and your skills. If you describe yourself as a ‘results-oriented, highly dedicated worker, with excellent attention to detail’ think again. The chances are 50 other applicants did the same thing…

Back up your claims with real-life details

Just because you were told to do something doesn’t mean you actually did it. So, don’t just describe your responsibilities without describing relevant details about your work environment and how you performed your responsibilities. Try describing the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Be sure to include information about the tools you use (such as computer programs or systems), timelines or budgets you had to meet, the amount of work performed, etc.

Tailor your CV for each position

Structure the document so that it highlights the skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Link the requirements of the advertised position with your real-life achievements and work successes. If you are running out of room on your 2 pages, leave off skills and experience that don’t relate to the requirements of the new position.

Keep your styling simple

Unless you are a graphics designer or hire a professional CV writer, keep the style simple. You can achieve a modern look by using a Google font such as Open Sans or Lato, but always ensure you choose fonts that are easy to read. Avoid gimmicks such as page borders and clip art.

One last thought: since you are writing about yourself, writing a good CV is probably harder than you realise, so don’t be afraid to get family and friends to help. If you need to, there are affordable CV coaching services available that can help you make sure your CV is on target. Whether you use professional support or not, however, always remember that spelling and grammar mistakes will instantly destroy your CV. Always have someone look through your document to make sure it is correct, as spelling and grammar check software will not pick up every error. Say goodbye to Belinda and Rick, and hello to Beyonce and Pharrell!

Image Source: Flickr