5 best ways to improve your CV today


In my experience, from reviewing many CVs and from seeing the transformation in my clients’ CVs*, there are a number of things that I see a lot, which reduce the effectiveness of most CVs.

*(I have a tendency to look back at their original CV at the end, to see how far they have come).

Here are the 5 things you can do TODAY that will improve your CV:

  1. Stop using pointless adjectives.

Hard working. Reliable. Self-motivated. Resourceful. Blah … blah.

If everyone says these things, in exactly the same way, they lose their currency.

Stop saying it; start showing it.

What has your hard work allowed you to achieve? In what ways did your reliability benefit your last employer? What have you achieved that was impressive given the available resources?

Would your CV be better if you answered those questions?

  1. Stop describing your skills.

Is it not clear that when you managed that million pound project, and met the objectives ‘on time and on budget (cliché alert!), that you demonstrated project management skills?

Is it not clear that when you transformed the company culture, you showed strategic leadership and communication skills?

Let the reader decide what are your main skills based on the facts presented. You don’t need to include a running commentary on your CV.

A summary is fine, but set out the high level and relevant skills, not the generic ones. And make it real (see point 4).

  1. Remove the list of skills from your CV altogether

If you are like most people, you will have already outlined your main skillset in your summary (see point 2 re what to do about that). But what you definitely do not need is one more distraction for the reader before they get to the most important detail. You see, most recruiters and employers want to get straight to what you have done in previous roles. It’s what they most value. Rightly or wrongly, they see this as the best determinant of your future success.

There are some things that you need to tell them first (your summary), because even though some recruiters tell you they don’t want this, it is in your interests to provide one. It has to be written well, and it has to be relatively succinct. But it needs to be a paragraph, not a list.

  1. Give evidence

If you are the employer, how do you distinguish one person’s ‘strategic leadership skills’ from another’s ‘leadership track record’?

The answer is surely that the one who provides the best supporting evidence is the most believable.

Be specific.

  1. Develop a personal brand

Understand who you are and what you bring to your desired role.

Convey this in the first line of your CV. Elaborate a little. Then give the facts.

Would you shortlist someone who did this?


Written by

CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.