Cliched as it may be, you really do only get one chance at a first impression. In most cases, the first impression you will make on a prospective employer will be with your CV. Are you certain you’re using yours to your best advantage?
Your CV is an essential part of the hiring process
Your CV is more than a record of your chronological job history. Think of it as how you market yourself. It’s an opportunity to start a conversation with potential employers – a condensed brochure of your skills and attributes. A chance to convey the most relevant information about you and what you can bring to an organisation.
What should CVs look like in 2022?
An eye-tracking study showed that recruiters spend on average 7 seconds looking at a CV. That doesn’t give you much time to make that impression and is especially difficult when you’ve acquired significant experience and work history. How do you fit 20 years of work experience onto a single page? Similarly, how can recent graduates and second-jobbers fill the blank space?
CVs nowadays won’t even make it before a set of human eyes in many circumstances. Hiring managers and recruitment agencies often use AI to screen their applications to weed out irrelevant applicants. More on this later.
The humble CV has also undergone a huge transformation in the past 20 years. What’s expected or even acceptable to include on your CV has changed as society and employment legislation and best practice evolved. So, to help you keep up with the times, here’s our guide to modern CV writing for 2022:
Scrap the career objective section
Made popular in the 90s, this is well past its use-by date. Replace it instead with a dynamic professional summary.
Keywords are, well, key. Just as we now market our businesses using keywords, many employers and recruitment agencies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that automatically screen applications by filtering them using keywords. Certain keywords and technologies can be selected and applications will automatically be rejected if the CV doesn’t contain enough of the right ones.
Simplify your CV’s appearance
There was a trend where the accessibility of design software meant that everyone’s CV became heavily stylised. Partly due to Applicant Tracking Systems, there’s been a return to simplicity. CVs these days should be clean, simple, text-based documents without complex design elements.
Be mindful of how far your work experience goes back
Remember, CVs are about conveying the most *relevant* information in a short amount of time. Is the job you had 20 years ago really relevant to what you have to offer an employer today? Employers are most interested in what you have been doing for the last 3-5 years. Thereafter, listing a job title, dates of employment and employer will suffice. If the client wants more understanding on your previous roles, you can discuss this at interview.
Focus on your skills & achievements
The hallmark of a truly modern CV is that your skills & achievements sections take are on par with your experience and qualifications. Think of this section as the highlights of your career, and what you’ve learned from hands-on experience and formal qualifications combined. It’s these sections that most appeals to the applicant tracking system – this section should be jam-packed with keywords.
Personalise your CV
Time-consuming though it is, it will pay off. Rather than “doing your CV” and farming it out to potential employers, think of your CV like a framework that you can build upon depending on the role you’re applying for. Restructure your work experience and skillset to highlight the most relevant points for the individual role will get your CV more than the standard 7 seconds of attention from the hiring manager. When you match your CV to the job description, you have more chance of making it through the ATS as well.
Make sure your first impression is the right one
Updating your CV for 2022 will ensure you don’t stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons. The goal should be a fresh, modern-looking CV where the substance is prioritised over style. Think of your CV as a way to get across your unique selling points in simple, brief terms. Avoid waffle, focus on what you can do and think about appealing to AI as much as humans.