What do your phone, your laptop and your CV have in common? They all require regular updates.
If you've been out of the employment game for a while, or if it's been a long time since you switched roles, chances are your CV out of date. Continuing technological advancements and shifting priorities have altered the expectations of the CV in the modern recruitment process.
What impressed once a hiring manager now no longer cuts it. And with high response rates and applicant tracking systems lurking behind every 'Apply Now' button, it's more important than ever to send in an updated, modern CV.
It's time to throw the old-school CV rules out the window. If you're having trouble adhering to the rules of modern CV writing, you may need to seek help from a professional CV writer. These tips, however, are a place to start your update.
Ditch the objective and replace with a professional summary
Gone are the days of writing a career objective at the top of your CV. Let's face it, the objective is self-explanatory. You're applying for a role so naturally, your objective is to obtain that role. It doesn't need to be stated.
With limited room to impress, a modern CV must make the most of this section. Therefore, remove the career objective and replace it with a concise professional summary. This should be three to four sentences at most, and it should showcase your most relevant skills and capabilities tailored to the role you're applying for. Basically, you want to tell the recruiter why you're the best person for the role.
Take advantage of keywords
A central opponent of the modern CV is the applicant tracking system (ATS), a technological advancement in the hiring process. Most recruitment agencies and hiring companies use an ATS to filter applications; the recruiter can have the software search for specific keywords in CVs and immediately reject candidates deemed 'unqualified' for (seemingly) not possessing the necessary skills. Sounds like a good thing? Sure, for the recruiter. But for candidates, it can mean a high percentage of applications often don't even get read before they are rejected.
Therefore, it's vital to craft your modern CV with the ATS in mind. An effective way to do this is to include keywords that the recruiter is likely to search for within your CV. You will often find these keywords listed in the job description. For example, if a job advertisement lists project management as an essential requirement, it's likely the recruiter may look for the keyword 'project management' in CVs.
Utilise your skills section
If you're wondering how to create a modern CV, the section you don't want to miss out on is your skills section. This is the perfect place to both highlight relevant keywords and showcase your experience.
The best way to think of your skills section is like a highlights reel. Pull out all of the most important skills from your work history ‒ a.k.a. your selling points ‒ and list them in bullet point format on the first page of your CV, above your work experience. This will ensure your best skills are among the first things the HR manager will see. Remember to pepper keywords from the job description within this section to give your CV ATS-appeal.
Remove old education dates
As much as nobody likes to admit it, discrimination in the hiring process can happen more often than you might think, and it can be based on age, sexuality, gender, disabilities and more. If you graduated over 15 years ago, most CV writers recommend removing the graduation dates from your education. Simply listing the school and the qualification obtained will suffice. You get one shot with a CV so you want to make sure your skills and experience take the forefront, not your age.
Be mindful when listing work experience
If you've been in the workforce for several years, you may not need to list every job you've ever had when writing a modern CV. Most professional CV writers recommend going back 10–15 years at most. Remember, the ideal CV length is two pages, so space is limited. The recruiter doesn't need to know about the grocery store job you had when you were 18 if you're applying for a finance role 20 years later.
Structure your work experience so it fits the role
The rules have changed for writing a CV to fit modern expectations. If you have a long work history with skills across different industries, it's more than acceptable to split your work experience into different categories, especially if it allows you to better highlight your most relevant skills for the job at hand.
For example, if you have a background in sales and a background in IT, you may want to use sub-headings to split your experience into the two areas: one section for sales skills, and another for IT. The easier you can make it for the recruiter to see your relevant experience, the higher chance you have of receiving that coveted first interview.
Remove personal information
Do you remember what your first CV looked like? It likely included personal information such as your date of birth, gender, nationality and possibly even marital status, along with a section highlighting your hobbies.
Well, get ready to hit that delete button, because the modern CV does not have time or space to waste on unnecessary (and invasive) details like these. Remove your hobbies and only list your name, phone number, email address and the city you live in. That's all the recruiter or HR manager needs to see. Everything else is taking up prime real estate that could be used to sell your skills.
Simplify your CV's appearance
In years past, you may have turned to specialised format and style to make your CV stand out ‒ a headshot, graphics and images, even a stylised font to add some flair. Expectations for a modern CV, however, call for a clean and simple look.
This is in part because of applicant tracking systems, which often cannot read these complex design elements. There's also how recruiters respond to the visuals. Consider what happens when the HR manager pulls your CV from the stack. The text boxes or graphics may separate your CV from others in appearance, but when the important information cannot be easily located because it is hidden amongst fancy styling, your chances of impressing only decrease.
Still unsure how to update your CV? No problem. The good news is that you're not alone. Our expert writers at TopCV are masters of the modern CV. They have the practical tools and expertise you need to take your CV from bland to grand.
So if you're ready to say yes to job-search success, speak to our team today.
This article was updated in August 2020 by Lauren Settembrino.