Get your CV in ship-shape in one afternoon with these quick tips

There's nothing more likely to induce panic than being asked for your CV and realising you haven't updated it for years. You have a mammoth job ahead of you, trying to remember exactly what you've done and getting it presented in a compelling and attractive manner.

Far easier is to dust off the document once or twice a year. A regular spring-clean ensures that your CV is always up to date and avoids important information being forgotten in the rush to get it to a recruiter.

Follow these seven simple steps and your CV will soon be looking shipshape.

Step 1: Delete

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a CV is thinking that you need to include your whole life story. If skills, experience, or jobs are no longer relevant, there is no obligation for them to be there.

Trawl through your CV to identify anything that is out of date or doesn't support your current career objectives. Be realistic about whether the skills you mention are still in demand in your role or industry and remove anything that makes you look out of touch.

Step 2: Summarise

A good CV is not one that simply has your most recent job stuck on the top, with the other roles floundering untouched below. If you're established in your career, you don't need to go into great depth about the part-time job you had at uni, for example. Anything you did over 10 years ago is generally considered less relevant, so you can delete all but the basics. The job title, employer name, and dates of employment are really all that's required for older roles, so that a recruiter can see your career progression.

The same goes for your education section – if you have a degree or a couple of years' work experience, summarise your schooling. A list of every GCSE you took and the grade you got is really not as relevant as what has come since, so this can be cut down to one line – if that!

Step 3: Evaluate

Read through the jobs that are already on your CV. Do they show your real value to an employer? Do they enable a recruiter to understand exactly what you did in each role? If not, some rewording is probably in order. Make sure each role supports your current career direction; just because something seemed relevant last time you wrote the CV, doesn't mean it will still have the same impact a few months or years later. Why not take a peek at LinkedIn to see how other people have framed similar roles?

Step 4: Add

Now you're ready to add your current job. Write a brief paragraph – approximately three lines – detailing your current responsibilities. Don't simply retype your job description, think about what you're really spending your time on, what skills you're using, and which elements of the role you want to take forward into your next position. Don't forget to quantify things such as your budget, how many staff you manage, how many sites you operate across, and so on.

The most important part of any job is what you've achieved. Identify the ways in which you've genuinely contributed to the business, exceeded expectations. or gone beyond the scope of your role. Again, it's important to quantify your achievements – it makes them more credible. Use bullet points – around four to six bullet points should be plenty – to draw the recruiter's eye to this important information.

This is where taking time to update your CV regularly is really worth the effort, because things soon get forgotten if you don't get them down on paper. It's also much easier to get the figures you need now, rather than struggling to locate them three years down the line.

Step 5: Format

If your CV is now over two pages, you probably weren't ruthless enough during steps one and two! Unless you're working at Board level, you almost certainly don't need a longer CV, so get the red pen out and start hacking.

A modern CV uses a combination CV format – which includes a hybrid of paragraphs to summarise your responsibilities and bullet points to highlight your accomplishments – and has plenty of white space. If your CV looks more like a story than a hand-out, the format needs work. Use a sans-serif font, which is modern and easy to read on a screen, and size it no larger than 10 or 11 point.

Step 6: Check

Congratulations, you now have an up-to-date, relevant and beautifully-presented CV that any recruiter would be a fool to overlook! But just to make sure, have one last read through and then give it to someone else for an honest opinion. If they don't understand parts, you've probably overdone the jargon or acronyms. Take constructive criticism on board and implement any worthwhile suggestions. Then, submit your CV for a free review by a professional CV writing service to ensure a recruiter sees the very best version of you.

Step 7: Align

It's really important that your CV tells the same story as your online presence. Now you have a polished CV, you should take a moment to ensure your LinkedIn profile is equally up to date. A recruiter will almost certainly check out your online presence, so it's worth aligning the two. You've done the hard work on your CV, so it really won't take a moment to make the same changes online.


See, that didn't take long, did it? Bet you feel pretty good about it too, looking at all those things you've achieved, all those skills you've developed, all that experience you've gained, and how far you've come. Updating your CV may seem like a chore initially, but like every chore, it reaps its own rewards in terms of feel-good-factor and your ability to fire off a CV at short notice.

Make sure your CV is ready to be fired off as soon as you spot that dream role. Start with a free CV review today.

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