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6 things you can do right now to improve your CV

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If you're serious about going for a job, lazily throwing the same CV at everything that catches your eye is guaranteed to receive a 'no' — if you get a response at all.

So whether you want a quick spruce up or a full MOT for that all important application, follow our six-step plan to give your CV a fresh new look.

1. Trim the excess

Employers will want to see relevant information that makes you an interesting candidate for an interview, so it's up to you to give it to them clearly and succinctly. Use plain English, avoid cliches and jargon and make sure you're not waffling.

It's tempting to pile in everything you can think of to sell yourself, but you want to catch their attention with facts, figures and achievements. You can dazzle them with the rest at the interview! If your CV goes over two pages, you need to do some editing.

Get rid of trivial information

2. Tidy it up

The presentation of your CV is as important as its content, so try to space items evenly and fragment long paragraphs with line breaks. Draw the reader's eye to key statistics by using bullet points instead of listing them in sentences.

Avoid fussy fonts like Times New Roman. Use a simple, clean font like Arial, Verdana or Tahoma to make it easy to read. Try it now - you'll be amazed at the difference it makes!

Font size should never go below 10 points. Bold, italics and underlining are fine, but don't go too crazy.

Tidy up a messy CV

3. Don't forget your keywords

It might surprise you to learn that your CV might be read by a piece of software before it gets seen by a human being. These programs will look for specific words or phrases that relate to the job spec or industry.

Look at similar job descriptions to get an idea of specific keywords, or try typing the job title into a search engine. For example, keywords for reservations manager include:

  • Communication skills
  • Friendly
  • Confident
  • Polite
  • Organised

It might also help to speak to people who do a similar job or work in a similar industry.

Include keywords for CV success

4. Include a personal statement

A good personal statement can be extremely effective if you get it right. Keep it short, highlighting your level of experience, strongest skills and the personal and professional qualities that make you right for the job. If you get stuck, why not ask a trusted friend or colleague to write down your strengths? You might be surprised and flattered!

Example:

"As a confident, innovative executive chef with ten years of experience in the restaurant industry, I have shown an ongoing commitment to developing and maintaining my menus, kitchen and staff to give the customer an exceptional all-round dining experience.

In the often busy kitchen environment, my key strength is my ability to deal with situations as they happen, while maintaining a professional attitude and an approachable temperament.

I recognise the importance of a strong team and am dedicated to giving my staff members guidance and training to further their careers and contribute positively to a cohesive working environment."

Tell prospective employers about yourself

5. Quantify your achievements

Saying you increased sales is OK, but saying you increased sales by 50% to £100k a month will have any employer salivating over your CV. Wherever possible, use supporting figures when you mention revenue or cost savings.

If your changes were performance or process related, make sure you state the benefit this had on the business. For example, you could say you held regular training sessions on customer service and saw an immediate uplift in positive feedback on your comment cards.

Back up your achievements with figures on your CV

6. Take a break

If you've been doing a lot of cutting, pasting and editing, you may not have noticed that you've chopped the end off a bullet point or muddled a sentence. If you've got the time, leave it for a few hours or even overnight and then go back to it with fresh eyes.

Microsoft invented spellchecker for a reason, so use it! Remember to check layout, as well as spacing and consistency of font size. Once you're happy, get someone with a good grasp of English to give it a once over to be on the safe side.

Leave your CV for a while, then come back to it

Related articles:

- How to write a killer hospitality CV 
- How to write the perfect cover letter
- Should I dumb down my CV?
- 9 common grammar mistakes on CVs and cover letters

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