Could your CV benefit from a free professional CV review?

When conducting a job search, you only get one chance to make a great first impression. That chance comes in the form of your CV. Undoubtedly the most important part of any job application, your CV is meant to show an HR manager that you are skilled, qualified and exactly what they are looking for.

Unfortunately, it's hard to know if your CV is doing its job without facing a series of rejections. That is where a professional CV review can help. You can receive expert feedback on this important document on all aspects of your CV, including layout, word choice and the way you frame your experience.

Every job seeker can benefit from a CV review, but there are some signs to look out for that you could especially benefit from professional CV guidance.

1. You've been out of the job-hunting game awhile

Whether you've been at the same job for years or have taken a career break, you may not have had to write a CV for a long time. While the core information required on a CV hasn't altered much over the last decade, recruitment practices and CV styles and formats certainly have. For example, including your full address is no longer a common convention and under the Equality Act 2010, neither is your date of birth.

These details may seem inconsequential, but an out-of-date CV will tell an HR manager that you're not on top of current hiring trends. Not only will you not match expectations, but you'll also make an employer concerned that you don't keep up with your own industry.

CV-writing services are clued up on the latest trends, so you can learn how to update your CV to fit the times.

2. You don't know how to sell your skills

We all know that the purpose of a CV is to document your employment history and qualifications to show prospective employers how credible you are. However, to make the sell, you need to go beyond listing responsibilities. To really make an impact, you must handpick relevant skills and accomplishments and phrase them in a way that proves to recruiters that you're the professional that will improve their team and company.

At TopCV, we call this 'doer' and 'achiever' language. Doer language is an unexciting list of your day-to-day tasks, such as 'Records and files invoices'. This won't impress an HR manager. Instead, use achiever language that highlights your skills and the positive impacts of your work: 'Files invoices by utilising proficiency with cloud-based document management software'.

A professional CV critique will reveal whether or not you have extracted relevant abilities from your skill set and included them in a way that showcases your true value.

3. Your employment history is a little bumpy

Not everyone's career trajectory is a straightforward path from one job to the next; a large number of job seekers may be faced with a history that isn't so smooth and subsequently have a CV gap to contend with. Whether you were dismissed, made redundant or decided to take a career break, you may be unsure how to work around this gap and smooth the bumpiness.

There is lots of advice out there on how to explain a career gap on your CV. However, every situation is unique, and the best method for someone else may not work for you. With a professional CV review, experts will be able to tell you how well you've addressed your gaps and can help you mould your CV so that it showcases your career path in the best possible light.

4. You're not sure how to use keywords effectively

One of those aforementioned changes in hiring practices is the introduction of the applicant tracking system (ATS). Since many employers receive hundreds of applications per vacancy, many have adopted this software that scans CVs and eliminates the candidates that appear least qualified for the role.

One of the most important things the ATS looks for when it scans your CV is keywords. Therefore, it's essential that your document strategically incorporate the right terms and phrases. If it doesn't, you will find yourself out of the running before an HR manager even sees your name.

A CV review will tell you if you are sufficiently using keywords on your CV or if you're setting yourself up for an ATS rejection.

5. You don't know what to include (or remove)

From hard and soft skills to projects, promotions and education, a lot of details go into a career. However, that doesn't mean they should all end up on your CV. With limited real estate, a CV should be more like a professional highlight reel than an autobiography.

Often, this leaves professionals unsure of what details to include on their CV. How much is too much? Not enough? What's important to keep, and what can be removed? How can you know for sure? A CV is only as good as the information that's in it, so it's essential that you make the right choice.

If you're not confident in the judgment calls you've made, a professional CV review can tell you what you don't need and where you're coming up short.

A professional CV review can help you

In a stressful job search, everyone can benefit from guidance. This is especially true if any of these five signs are familiar to you.

A CV review will give you the professional feedback you don't get from HR managers. The personalised critique will help you know if your current CV is ready to land you the job or will hold you back. It's a simple way to ensure that you are truly putting your best foot forward.

Expert feedback will help you get ahead in the job search. Click here to submit your CV for a free professional review.

This article was updated in August 2020. It was originally written by Laura Sullivan.

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