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13 One-Minute Tricks to Improve Your CV

13 One-Minute Tricks to Improve Your CV  main image

Guest post: Beth Leslie

If you’ve ever been looking for a job, you’ll probably have heard the maxim “treat job hunting like a full-time job”. This is good advice but pretty much impossible to follow, especially if you’re also studying or working elsewhere.

Unfortunately, you really do need to spend time perfecting your CV if you want to find a job; according to one study, 75% of candidates are rejected based on their résumé.

Don’t have hours free to spend tinkering with your CV? How about a minute? Here are 13 one-minute tips which will each substantially improve your CV in the time it takes to boil a kettle.

1. Download Grammarly

These days, the vast majority of CVs are sent via the internet. Grammarly, which is like a beefed-up version of Microsoft Word’s spellchecker, will ensure that the spelling and grammar of everything you write online is correct. This is particularly crucial to ensure those online application forms and the emails that accompany your CV are typo-proof. Grammarly also explains why it’s putting that annoying red line under your words, which helps you pick up on repeated mistakes. 

2. Scan example CVs

Actually reading example CVs is a great way to get ideas to improve your own CV, but if you’re pressed for time you can still gain a lot from quickly scanning through them. Search online for example CVs and you’ll quickly get an idea of the layout qualities they share, despite being for completely different industries. It is these common elements that you should use to improve your CV, because they’re likely to be the ones that actually work!

3. Channel Chanel

Once you factor in your degree, internships, part-time jobs and other extra-curricular activities, it’s amazing how much stuff you can have to cram into your CV. Watch out though – CVs are often ignored because they’re too cluttered, and CVs over two pages long are the original TL;DR.

For a solution look no further than Coco Chanel, who once famously remarked: “Once you've dressed… look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Do the same thing with your cluttered CV – pick the weakest paragraph and just cut it out. Trust us, less is more!

4. Delete your date of birth

Not only is it taking up all-important space, it’s completely irrelevant. (The only exception is if you’re applying for an age-specific role, such as selling alcohol.)

5. Think of the most interesting thing you’ve ever done

Got it? Good. Now write one sentence about it and add in to the bottom of your CV. Yes, BASE-jumping has nothing to do with accountancy, but it’ll make you stand out. In a competitive job market, being memorable is key.

6. Set up a new email address

If your email address is anything other than your real name and a couple of numbers (here’s looking at you crazydude_435) then set up a new one for job applications. Unprofessional email addresses don’t just look bad, they look so bad that they are another major reason for résumés being rejected.

7.  Save as

We’ve all done it – saved a document in a rush, after working on several different versions. But applying for a job with a document entitled “best cv- SEND THIS” is not a good look. Take 10 seconds to save it as “[Your Name] – CV”. It’ll look professional and ensure recruiters can easily find it in their overflowing inboxes.

8. Change the font

Distinctive is good. Comic Sans is not. And trust me, nobody will find your Jokerman funny. Use a clear, neutral font like Arial or Calibri, and use it consistently throughout your CV.

9. Change the color

To paraphrase Henry Ford, you may have any color as long as it’s black. Navy blue for headings only at an absolute push. I don’t care if you’re applying to be the marketing manager of Barbie.com; leave the hot pink at home.

10. Ctrl + F for “socialize” & “friends”

Everyone has friends. Everyone likes socializing with them. Hobbies are great, but this is so generic and the percentage of employers who will care about it is 0. Cut it.

11. Proof-read

Even if you’ve already checked it, check it again, and repeat each time you send a copy off. Mistakes are an easy way for recruiters to decide which CVs make it through the first round. Don’t risk yours being rejected for this reason.

12. Get someone else to read it

They can be anyone – a friend, a family member, a university tutor (just maybe not your current boss). It doesn’t matter if they know nothing about the industry – get them to look for clarity in layout and sentence structure. If your CV is a struggle for them to read, it’ll be a struggle for recruiters too.

13. Get someone else to read it

Getting deja-vu?

To reiterate, a flawless CV is really important for your job prospects. Get as many people to check it as possible!

Beth Leslie writes career advice for Inspiring Interns, the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency. Check them out to see what internships and graduate jobs London has to offer. Want an even easier way to get a flawless CV? Head over to Standout CV, the UK’s leading professional CV-writing service.

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