So you have been writing, rewriting and then writing again the content of your CV for a couple of hours/days/weeks. You have re-read it more than 100 times and you are 100% sure your CV is ready to impress employers. How wouldn’t it? You are sure you have prepared a job-winning CV! But just in case - stop there for a second! Use the checklist below to find out if you have done everything correctly and if your CV is really ready for your first application.
1. IS YOUR CV LONGER THAN 2 PAGES?
Even though you most likely know this already, we will repeat it once again because “repetitio est mater studiorum”. CV shouldn’t be longer than 2 pages, regardless of your years of experience.
You have already heard that recruiters and hiring managers spend only a couple of seconds screening your CV. 6 seconds, to be specific. Any resume longer than 2 (or 5 pages – a big no!) will discourage them to read it. It’s not because they are lazy. They are busy. That's why every second counts. Long CVs usually include entire blocks of text or a huge amount of irrelevant information. Therefore, it’s quite hard and time-consuming to read them and to find the information they are looking for, as they will need to find their way through your CV as through a complex labyrinth. If you manage to put all relevant, role-tailored information on 2 pages, you will show them you are highly motivated (because you have taken your time to read the job description and tailor your CV to the role), detail-oriented and able to distinguish important from irrelevant information (always a desirable trait).
Potential employers will definitely appreciate it – which will consequently improve your chances of getting shortlisted for any role. A win-win situation for both sides.
2. HAVE YOU TAILORED YOUR RESUME TO THE JOB YOU ARE APPLYING FOR?
Same as writing a maximum 2-pages-long CV, CV tailored to the job immediately makes a positive impression on recruiters and hiring managers. To improve your interview invitations/applications ratio, you should definitely consider tweaking your CV here and there each time before you send it.
The easiest way to do it is to amend the information included in your statement, summary or profile at the beginning of your CV.
There are two reasons why we want to stress the importance of tailor-made personal summary.
On the one hand, profile summary is the first thing recruiters are going to read. You need to grab their attention with the very first sentence or bullet point within your CV to show them you are the right person for the role.
On the other hand, it’s really easy and quick to amend this part of CV.
Just go through the personal requirements section in the job description of the role you are applying for and sum up those you have. Even if you don’t tailor entire CV to the role, simply by amending your personal profile it will make an impression you have taken your time to familiarise yourself with the role and to adjust your CV accordingly. Minimum effort - maximum efficiency, don’t you think so? Here you can learn how to tailor your resume to any job - in less than 15 minutes!
3. DID YOU INCLUDE CORRECT AND RELEVANT CONTACT DETAILS?
In contact details, include the following information: your city of residence, email address, mobile phone number and optionally, URL of a LinkedIn profile (if it’s representative).
Revise your contact details once again. Make sure they are updated and correct.
Also, contact details should be professional. If your current email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, maybe now is the right time to consider changing it.
4. DO YOU HAVE ANY UNEXPLAINED GAPS IN YOUR WORK HISTORY?
If you have any gaps in your work history due to maternity/paternity leave, a year off taken to travel and so on, explain it in your CV.
If you simply exclude this information and leave a time gap, it might leave an impression you want to hide something. Don’t leave potential employers with any concerns or questions after they read your CV.
5. HAVE YOU KEPT ONLY RELEVANT INFORMATION?
Not all information is equally important for each role. Before you send your CV, try to find the information you can omit without affecting the quality of your CV and your application.
If you have experience older than 10-15 years, you can make the description of the oldest jobs shorter by cutting down the number of sentences or bullet points to maximum 3. If these roles have nothing in common with the role you are currently applying for, you can just write down role titles, companies and timeframes, and completely exclude job descriptions.
When it comes to education, there is no need to inform recruiters where you went to primary school. Keep only the highest level of education and relevant training, courses, and certificates.
Additionally, hobbies or personal interests quite rarely provide any added value to CVs. If you insist on putting a personal touch to your CV, include only hobbies that could have helped you to acquire skills transferable to a work environment. Team sports are a great example as they show you can be a team player or a team leader (e.g. if you are captain of the basketball team) and you appreciate fair-play – highly valuable traits in companies. Additionally, if you are a professional player in any individual sport it can also be the evidence of your strong work ethics, discipline and time management skills. So, you can definitely include any sport you actively participate in, because it can add value to your CV and help you stand out in the crowd.
Can socialising with friends, walking in nature with your dog Bella, watching movies or reading add any value?
Sorry to disappoint you.
6. WERE YOU CONSISTENT WITH THE FORMATTING?
Consistent formatting is the foundation of a well-structured, neat and easy-to-read CV. Use maximum 2 colours or 2 font styles in your CV to highlight the subheadings and to structure it better.
Moreover, apply the same writing style in each section. If you have decided to describe the purpose of the role, key responsibilities, and key achievements separately by using bullet point list for the latest role, apply exactly the same structure to each role before that.
It will be easier for recruiters to find the relevant information and your CV will look neat.
7. DID SOMEONE ELSE PROOFREAD YOUR CV TO CHECK FOR ANY MISTAKES?
You know that feeling when you re-read an important email million times and right after you decide it’s perfect and you click “send” – then it happens! You immediately notice the most obvious spelling mistake in the very first sentence!
The same thing happens after you have been working on your CV for a long period of time.
It is impossible to notice all spelling and/or grammar mistakes on your own.
Therefore, the best solution is to share your CV with a friend or a significant other to review it once again with their fresh eyes. They might help you to correct content of your CV before you send a flawed CV and start wondering why nobody is getting back to you. On the contrary, if they don’t find any mistakes - congratulations! Your CV is ready to go!
Simply click on the picture above and the download will start instantly. No registration, no sign-up, no fuss!
OK, YOU READ EVERYTHING. WHAT TO DO NEXT?
You can save this checklist as an infographic (a PDF file). Click here, keep it and use it anytime before you submit you job application.
If you realised that you still need to work on the content of your resume, check out the Resume Writing Workbook we have created for you (see the picture above). It's the best step-by-step guide for creating CV content that wins employers over. And it's printable and FREE!
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PS If you still need help with creating a well-structured, professionally designed resume, check out our collection of resume templates.