Everyone wants a striking CV or résumé but there’s a fine line between standing out from the crowd and sticking out like a sore thumb.
In a brave new world where even the good old-fashioned CV is not immune to social media, video or QR codes, we’ve put together five tips that might just help you stay one step ahead of your rivals in 2014.
CV Writing Tips for 2014
As a professional CV writer I find that creative bells and whistles can help in the right context – but never at the expense of genuine value. In other words handle the following with care:
#1 Video CVs can help you stand out if you play your cards right
Video CVs are still relatively new and exciting – which means they still have a novelty value – and the stats would suggest they get you noticed. They are not a replacement for the traditional CV but they could work alongside one.
If used properly, a short, focused video CV can give employers a feel for your personality, presentation skills and ability to communicate. If used poorly it can do more harm than good.
Verdict: Could complement your CV – but only if scripted, filmed and edited well
#2 Add a visual element if it genuinely helps. But don’t go overboard
Funky infographics might work to your advantage if you are applying for a job in graphic design or art but if you aren’t I’d think twice if I were you. And if you are still keen it I’d think a third time, then decide not to.
It’s even highly debatable whether you’d even want to include a headshot – it can add a bit of spice but employers could use it as a reason to reject your CV to avoid accusations of discrimination.
Verdict: Infographics are a risky strategy – best left to creative industries
#3 Include hyperlinks to relevant sites you mention on your CV
This one is pretty basic but it makes sense. You want to make employers’ lives easier – not harder – so include one or two key hyperlinks where relevant.
They may want to check out your current company’s website for example and the more time they waste getting frustrated trying to find it the more chance you’ve got of losing their attention – and waving goodbye to that dream job.
Verdict: Go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose with this one really
#4 Make sure your social media profiles work for you – not against you
This one’s a no brainer. Your LinkedIn profile is almost viewed like a second résumé these days – people have even been known to turn their Facebook profile into a CV – but make sure you closely screen all your social media output.
Nine out of every ten employers we deal with actively check out potential new recruits on various forms of social media so be careful the next time you are thinking of posting that picture of what you vomited at 3am last night. It might come back to haunt you again.
Verdict: Essential in this day and age – assume everyone is watching!!
#5 Cash in on the latest industry trends when outlining your experience
No matter what industry you work in, gear your writing towards the current climate as much as possible – showing you are up to speed with the latest trends and terminology.
To take a crude example, investment banking is not exclusively about generating profit any more – risk management has become increasingly relevant in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
Likewise, if you are an IT consultant make sure you’ve tipped your hat to the latest project methodologies and demonstrated you are keeping up with programming communities. I could go on but you get the picture.
Verdict: Your language is your currency. Make sure it’s not out of date
OK that’s more than enough from me. These tips might just make your CV stand out from the crowd – but as always there’s a lot of personal preference and you should judge each case on its merits.
Everyone wants a distinct CV but if you are applying to be a solicitor, accountant or actuary it’s more than likely a wildly creative infographic will get your CV noticed. Then thrown in the bin shortly afterwards.
We speak to hundreds of recruiters – many of our team are former recruiters themselves – and in 99% of cases we find there is still no substitute for the timeless qualities of an old-school CV.
CVs should be powerfully written, in a sensible order that highlights your strengths, with no typos, mistakes or inconsistencies in sight.
They should steer clear of waffle, using relevant, focused facts and achievements that are geared towards the role they are applying for.
That’s always been the case and, if our conversations with employers and recruiters are anything to go by, it’s not about to change any time soon.
The rest is just window dressing. Good luck.