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  • Writer's picturePenny Langstaff

A Guide to Adapting your CV or Resume

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Some of what I say may seem obvious, but many people don't adapt their information.

Nowadays, there are so many free CV or Resume templates available online, that creating a fresh, new document can be relatively easy. What isn't so easy however, is knowing what information you should and shouldn't include, but the key thing to remember is that your CV or Resume should be adapted to each role you're applying for. Here are 7 tips on how to how to make it stand out!

  1. Photo or no photo This is a tricky one and opinion is divided. If you're going to include a photo, then make sure it's appropriate for the role you're applying for. Generally, companies/recruiters don't want to see a photo of you with your pet/at the beach/holding your prize snapper! Similarly, adding one taken 10 years ago is also a "no-no". If you're determined to include a photo, it needs to be business-like and ideally the same or similar to your LinkedIn Profile picture. First impressions really do count, so make sure that what a company/recruiter/manager sees is professional and up to date - whether that's the photo on your CV / Resume or on LinkedIn.

  2. Personal Statement Ideally this should be an overview of you, your skills/experience and what type of role you're applying for, but should always be adapted for the role you're applying for. For example: I'm an experienced finance professional who has worked for a number of small and global organisations both in New Zealand and overseas. My focus has been on helping companies streamline their accounting processes and I've managed teams from 4 - 20 staff. I'm looking for a role where I can add value to an organisation by using the scope of my skills and experience.

  3. Key Skills & Experience This is where you get the first opportunity to highlight why you're the perfect person for the job. Keep the information short - bullet points are ideal for this - but make sure that what you include is relevant to the job you're applying for. From a recruitment perspective, there's nothing worse than seeing 20 or more bullet points of skills and experience that (a) aren't relevant or (b) haven't actually been used in a work environment. Just because you've studied it, doesn't make you proficient at it! Keep the information "real" and only highlight what you can prove you're good at through hands-on work experience.

  4. Education If you have a tertiary or trade qualification, you need to make sure this information is on the front page of your CV/Resume. If you're a new grad with not much work experience, it's tempting to put all your papers and projects under your qualification, but that can take up half a page or more and isn't usually required. A recruiter/hiring manager wants to quickly see what qualification(s) you have and then what other information is on your document. Add any key projects or papers elsewhere in your CV/Resume if they're relevant to the job you're applying for. Similarly, if you've been on heaps of training courses, not all of them are likely to be relevant to the job you're applying for, so make sure unrelated ones appear near the bottom of your CV and keep your tertiary or trade qualification(s) for the front page so that they stand out.

  5. Work/Employment History

    1. Always have your current or most recent job at the top and work backwards

    2. Make sure you have the company name, your job title and the dates of employment clearly shown.

    3. Keep the content under each job relevant and easily readable. You should always highlight (through bullet points or similar) what is particularly relevant to the job you're applying for and reduce the skills/experience that may not be so applicable.

    4. Use keywords in your job content to match the advert. For example, if it's an Accounts Payable job and they're looking for someone who has experience processing high volume pay runs each week, you could include a statement such as "processed xxxxx invoices each week/month using xxxx software" etc, so ensure you've included your relevant experience when applicable.

  6. Interests It's entirely up to you whether you include these on your CV/Resume. However, adding some hobbies or interests at the bottom of your CV/Resume, does potentially give the interviewer some insight into you as a person, rather than just how you present at work.

  7. Length/Number of pages The length of your CV should really be defined by your experience rather than a set number of pages. The goal is for Recruiters and HR Managers to clearly and easily see your potential suitability for a role, so if you need to make your document a bit longer to include relevant information, then do so. What you should always avoid is adding so much irrelevant detail that your CV becomes overly long and key information gets "lost" or buried.

So in summary - keep your CV or Resume relevant to the role you're applying for, highlight key skills and experience, make sure it's easy to read and always include a cover letter with your application. Click here for tips on how to write a great cover letter!

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