Quick Changes to Make to Your CV to Give You an Edge Over the Crowd

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Your CV is the heartbeat of your job search, and it will usually be reviewed and discussed in your absence. In a highly competitive and saturated market, it is more important than ever, that your CV is a written document that speaks well of you in your absence.

In about an hour or less, you can make changes to your CV that will guarantee that hiring managers at least spend longer looking at your CV and listening to what you have to ‘say.’

1.       Make it more readable

Have a quick glance at your CV to see if it generally looks pleasing to the eye.

Resist the temptation to cram many sentences onto the page; instead, remove unnecessary information and consider putting them in a cover letter instead.

2.       Check formatting in general

To make your CV presentable, ensure you format it properly. Use the same font, spacing, bullet styles, date formats, etc. throughout the document. Also, consider adding dividers to break up different segments of your CV.

3.       Remove the profile and objective statement

A profile in a CV is a short bio on the candidate, while an objective statement is just that; a statement explaining to the hiring manager what your objective is (i.e., the type of roles you are seeking).

It is becoming increasingly popular opinion that profiles and objective statements in a CV are redundant. Save that valuable space and delete these from your CV; the cover letter is a more appropriate medium for these.

4.       Run a spell and grammar check

Majority of employers note that CVs with typographical errors are one of the top mistakes that lead them summarily dismiss a candidate. You want to avoid that!

Your CV should contain no grammatical or spelling errors. None! It is (ideally) only two pages, so this is not that hard to achieve. Use Microsoft Word’s spell check tool to crosscheck, but also use more in-depth proofreading tools such as Grammarly. Even, read it out loud to check for proper ‘readability.’

5.       Convert it to PDF

We have already established that a well-formatted CV is very important. Saving and sending your CV in the PDF format would ensure that the formatting of your document is retained when opened on a different computer.

6.      Use an appropriate file name

Even though the content of your CV is the most important thing, the name you give the file could go a long way in creating a positive first impression, so use something formal and professional.

It is also beneficial to include your name in the file name to avoid your CV getting lost in the multitude. Try something like “Bolanle Adebiyi – CV” instead of a vague name like “Curriculum Vitae.”

7.       Make hyperlinks live

A hyperlink is a link from a document to another location, activated by clicking on a highlighted word or image (Wikipedia). In the context of your CV, a hyperlink would be your e-mail address or links to your online publications.

Make the recruiter’s job easier by making your hyperlinks live. This would enable the recruiter to view your website, read your online publications or send you an e-mail just by clicking a button straight from the CV.

8.       Delete all references to secondary school education

When applying for a graduate position in a law firm, there is no need to include your SSCE, WAEC or other prior results.

9.       Update your skills section

Check that your CV contains up to date skills. If you have picked up a new skill recently (and you should have), this is the place to include it.

Also, delete skills like Microsoft Word; in 2017, all employers expect you to have this.

10.       Remove distracting design

Keep your CV at the most minimalist level possible. Remove fancy fonts, colours or borders. Remember that in a professional world, less is more.

11.       Delete cliché adjectives

We know that you want the employer to see that you are hardworking, passionate, experienced, detail-oriented, and the like. However, talk is cheap; you should instead focus on showing them that you possess these qualities, through the experiences highlighted in your CV.

12.       Condense each section

Shorten the content under each of your bullets, and also the number of bullet points themselves; try not to have more than 5 – 6 bullet points for each position or heading

13.       Use numbers

In a CV, numbers speak louder than words. Make your achievements stand out more by tying them to numbers.

Were you the President of your Law Students’ Society? Mention how many law students were members of the Society while you were President. Were you the Treasurer of the Law Society? Mention how much you raised or managed.

14.       Recheck and update your personal information

It would be unfortunate if a hiring manager reviews your CV and decides to reach out to you, only to have his/her e-mail bounce back.

Confirm that you included your most recent phone number, if you have more than one phone number, be sure to include them all, and confirm that there are no errors in your e-mail address.

15.       Ask a friend to check it out

By now, you probably know your CV like the back of your palm and may no longer be able to spot any issues yourself. Get the perspective of a fresh pair of eyes; ask a friend or senior colleague to review your CV and give you their candid opinion.

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, and compliance.

She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.


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