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Is your CV 2020 enough?

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If you’ve stuck to the same plan with your CV for a few years, it might be time for a change.

Winning CVs still have one job: to persuade employers that you have the skills and experience they’re looking for. And, when it comes to writing that CV, the good news is that many of the tried-and-tested pieces of advice continue to ring true.

Another thing that hasn’t changed? You only have a few seconds to persuade the average recruiter that you’re right for the role.

As we advise the talented technical professionals we recruit through RHL, the average potential employer takes around seven seconds to make their mind up. So CVs need to work as hard as possible - in the shortest time frame.

Let’s look at new insider tricks to make sure your CV packs a powerful punch in this new decade of job searching.

Track attention

We’ve discovered how long people read your CV for - and now we know exactly what they scan for. Some research tracking eye movements has shown that these things get the most attention:

  • Your executive summary
  • Your name
  • Your current job title and company
  • When you started and ended in previous roles
  • Your previous job titles
  • Your education

Include must-reads on the left

The same study shows that potential employers read CVs in an ‘F-pattern’. That means they read the first few lines, then move down the page a little and read across a shorter area. Then their eyes scan down the page and take in the first few words on most remainder lines.

Our advice? Make sure that important words and phrases appear as far to the left-hand side of the page as possible.

There’s solid guidance on making your text easily scannable, including writing in short paragraphs; using bullet points; adding white space between paragraphs and using headings and subheadings to break up text. Follow this advice on your CV the most important points will be closer to the left hand margin, anyway.

Use job-relevant keywords

It’s a given that you need to tailor your CV for each job application you make. But going bespoke now also includes weaving in different keywords and phrases used in the original job advert and job description - and making it natural (so it reads like it’s written by a human, not a robot).

Plus, there’s a huge chance your potential boss will research you on LinkedIn. So make it easy for them to discover more about how impressive you are by including a URL to your profile in your contact information.

Craft a strong summary

Your CV’s executive summary counts for a lot, as it makes up the first few lines of text on a page (and research shows it gets plenty of attention).

Stick to a short paragraph of no more than five sentences, summarising your expertise, skills and career achievements. Think of it like an elevator pitch that explains who you are, the type of role you’d like to move into and the value you can bring to your next employer.

Highlighting why you’re the best person for the role is the job of a stand-out CV. The rest is up to you when you get to the interview stage.

More information

Find out why ‘employability skills’ like commercial awareness, adaptability, creative thinking count in today’s job market - and how to show them off on your CV - in our blog post, here.

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