Whether you’re an established professional with years of experience or a fresh graduate searching for your first opportunity, you’ve undoubtedly pondered over the art of crafting an impactful CV. This article aims to provide insights from a headhunter’s perspective, helping you determine if there’s a need to adjust and adapt your CV to make a significant impression on recruitment professionals. At the end of this article, we’ll showcase an example of an effective CV for a recent graduate. But first, let’s delve into a few…
WHAT TO AVOID
Here’s the list:
- Steer Clear of the Europass Format: We might ruffle a few feathers here, but we cannot recommend the Europass format for CVs. Beyond being a standardized model (which essentially limits creativity and depersonalizes the CV), this format can be excessively detailed, hindering a comprehensive overview. This CV, with its generic visual appeal and its popular usage among fresh graduates (often mandated by universities for applications), fails to spotlight your unique journey and personal excellence.
- Maintain Brevity: Every headhunter has come across an eighteen-page CV from a candidate with merely three years of experience, leading us to wonder: when they have twenty years of experience, will they need a publishing house for their updated CV? Your CV is a snapshot of your professional journey, not an autobiography. Although autobiographies have their merit, they belong to a different literary genre. The CV’s purpose is to illuminate the qualities that set you apart, grounded in your professional, academic, and personal experiences. Don’t miss a chance to showcase your knack for conciseness!
- Avoid Chronological Order: The person reviewing your CV will primarily focus on your most recent experiences. Especially for highly experienced candidates, presenting your CV chronologically might force readers to hunt for the most crucial details, missing an opportunity to demonstrate your capability in creating an organized, logical, and impactful presentation.
- Eliminate Grammatical Errors: In today’s fast-paced work environment, we’re all stretched thin, and it’s quite easy for errors (even mere typos) to slip through when drafting a CV. Yet, your CV is the representation of you in your absence to a potential employer. It’s absolutely worth it to scrutinize it for any mistakes or oversights. If pressed for time, consider seeking help from a trusted third-party, someone you respect for their editorial prowess. This is equally important for CVs in other languages. For instance, you could ask an English Literature graduate to review your English CV. This attention to detail will pay dividends!
- Bypass Unusual Formatting Styles: Sure, certain sectors allow and even appreciate creative liberties in CV design. Typically, those in such sectors have the expertise to design visually appealing formats without coming off as odd or overbearing. Similarly, in engineering or financial domains, CVs might resemble comprehensive Excel spreadsheets. When designing your CV, ensure it aligns with the expected norms of your industry. There are universally acceptable formats suitable for all domains. You can check the model at the end of this article for reference.
- Avoid Overly Casual Photos: Including a photo on your CV isn’t mandatory. However, it can add a personal touch, and it can certainly help interviewers recognize you during face-to-face meetings. Remember, a CV is a formal representation of your professional profile, not a social media page. If you choose to include a photo, ensure it is professional, solely of you, not cropped from group photos, neutral, and not associated with specific events (like graduations or weddings). Dress appropriately for the industry you’re targeting — not in beachwear for a banking job or in a suit if you’re a professional surfer. Such precautions will help employers visualize you in a work setting and will undoubtedly complement the written information on your CV.
Here’s our advice for a straightforward and impactful CV:
- Introduce Yourself. Start your CV with a brief introduction summarizing your professional focus, your years of experience, the sectors you’ve worked in, and if you’re a manager, the areas and teams you’ve overseen. It’s also beneficial to outline your future professional goals.
- Prioritize Key Information. Organize your CV to highlight the most crucial aspects. For example, if you’re a multilingual translator, list your language skills right after the introduction, followed by your education and work experience. If you’re job-hunting post-PhD, emphasize your academic experience. For seasoned managers, start with your work history, showcasing your current position first.
- Include Meaningful Hobbies and Extracurriculars. Share hobbies or activities that reflect positively on your professional life, such as volunteering, team sports, or continuing education. Activities that demonstrate leadership skills are valuable. However, avoid mentioning potentially divisive or politically charged activities.
- Tailor Your CV to Keywords. Depending on the job description of the role you’re applying for, highlight relevant elements of your professional journey. Many large companies use automated screening systems (like ATS) to filter CVs based on job description keywords. Ensuring your CV matches these keywords (while being honest and accurate) increases your chances of progressing in the application process.
- Be Concise and Structured. Your CV is a snapshot of your professional journey, so make sure the most significant aspects stand out. Avoid drowning out vital details with excessive information. For instance, if you’re a Sales Director, is it necessary to mention you oversee foreign client brochure translations? Instead, focus on sales targets and achieved revenue goals. You can also use visual cues to quantify skills, but don’t overdo it.
- Update Personal Data Permissions. Submitting a CV without current data processing permissions (like GDPR) means the recipient might have to delete it. Ensure you’ve provided proper authorization in line with the latest regulations.