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How to prepare your CV for 2021

How to prepare your CV for 2021

Even with Coronavirus, the new year is a peak time for job hunting; so it’s important to prepare your CV for 2021.

After all, you’re probably one of the main ones who have resolutions about progressing your career, achieving a better work-life balance and earning more money get underway.

It’s a very competitive time, so make sure you don’t fall at the first hurdle. By brushing up your CV now, you can prepare for the new year’s rush. Below, we show you how.

The best format to use

Recruiters are increasingly using ATS software to do the first sift of CVs. That means your CV is scanned, analysed and either selected or discarded before a human even sees it.

So now, more than ever, it’s vital to choose a format that maximises your chance of selection by both a human and an automated recruiter.

The best way to save your CV for 2021 is as a Microsoft Word file. This is the most common file type and therefore readable by most ATS. If you save your CV as a PDF, you risk introducing formatting errors when the CV is parsed.

For a professional format that appeals to humans and computers, use black text only, in a widely-available font, such as Arial or Calibri. Never include graphics or text boxes as the format can get damaged, plus, it looks unprofessional and could put off recruiters.

What information you should include

The time-tested sections of a traditional CV – profile, professional experience and qualifications – are still very much required. As business becomes increasingly global and digitised, ensure you also mention any languages you can speak and any IT applications you’re confident using.

Achievements are a frequently overlooked way of setting yourself apart from other applicants.

Think about times where you’ve gone above and beyond in your job. These should be times where you’ve added real value, awards you’ve won and benefits you’ve delivered. Include each of these achievements in their own section under the job they relate to. Plus, make sure you back this up with numbers and facts wherever possible.

For example, “increased sales by 50% in six months” sounds more impressive to the hiring manager than just “increased sales”.

Keywords are an important component of CVs nowadays. Don’t just assume a recruiter will understand your everyday role based on your job title. Even jobs with the same title can vary wildly from one company to the next.

Consider what the key skills are for the type of role you’re targeting and analyse job adverts to see what is required. Then, make sure you cover all of the relevant points in your CV.

A Project Manager, for example, will need to include risk management, budget control and stakeholder management. You may think this is obvious as it comes with the territory, but neither humans nor the ATS will know you have this experience if you don’t highlight it clearly to them.

What information you should leave out

The interests section is becoming less common on a CV for 2021. Particularly once you’re past the earliest stages of your career. However, they can add a bit of interest and personality to your CV (I once wrote a CV for someone who had listed Gravy Wrestling as a hobby…) they rarely add value in terms of explaining how well you can do a job or what you would bring to an organisation.

If you’re struggling for space on your CV, this should be the first thing you delete.

Many people are still adding excessive personal details to their CV. A phone number and email address are obviously critical if you’re expecting a recruiter to contact you. But there’s no need to be sharing your marital status, date of birth, nationality, gender and so on.

A recruiter should ignore these details anyway, due to anti-discrimination legislation. So put the space to better use by sharing more relevant information about your career, skills and achievements.

The details you should remove

If it’s been a few years since you last dusted off your CV, go through it with a fine tooth comb. Some of your jobs, qualifications, courses and skills will probably no longer be relevant to the next step in your career. So don’t be afraid to delete things you previously considered crucial.

If you’re a more seasoned professional, you only need to go into detail for the last 10 years of your career history. So summarise everything before this. Irrelevant courses and qualifications that you did a long time ago could also come off if they seem a bit outdated.

Ensure you tailor your CV for 2021

When you’re happy that your CV reflects the very best version of you, don’t stop there. Use this document as a master template, and tweak it to suit every job advert you apply for.

This will probably be as simple as a bit of rephrasing in the profile section; and a re-ordering of the bullet points in the professional experience section. You need to highlight immediately to the recruiter that what you’re offering aligns with the requirements stated in the advert.

There’s no need to rewrite the whole document; it’s just about making the right first impression with minor tweaks.

Bear these points in mind when writing your CV for 2021 and your New Year’s resolutions could be in the bag before the tinsel’s off the tree.

For more advice on perfecting your CV why don’t you check out how to write a personal profile for your CV?