As 2015 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back on the trends of the past year and see how they can help you when writing or refreshing your CV for 2016.
Its official, recruiters really do dislike certain words on a CV. Earlier this year Purple CVs ran a survey which found the top eight most overused clichés. These are: hard-working, reliable, team player, dedicated, passionate, strategic thinker, results driven and dynamic.
While these words are loved by candidates, if you think about it, they don’t offer any real insight into who you are. These words are generic and the first four in the list could be used to describe most candidates so why bother wasting precious space on your CV with them?
Make yourself a credible candidate. Base your personal profile in facts rather than well-worn phrases. Think about what kind of team player you are. Do you provide team cohesion or boost morale, are you the organised one who keeps colleagues on the right track towards a goal? The more specific you can be, the better insight a recruiter will get. Factual statements that are backed up by evidence throughout the rest of your CV will also make your CV much stronger.
According to a CareerBuilder 2015 candidate survey, 50% of employers say it’s hard to find workers with the right skills. You can capitalise on this by ensuring that your CV is fully tailored to a job advert with emphasis on key skills. The more you can match yourself to the role, the much better your chance of being shortlisted. Check out this strategy for boosting your chances when applying for a job.
A perennial it appears, but yes, people are still lying on their CV and hoping to get away with it. Some candidates admit this. A recent survey by First Advantage found that one in four had lied on an application.
CareerBuilder found a larger figure when it ran a candidate survey. They discovered that 56% of employers found a lie on a candidate CV. These lies relate to: embellished skill sets or responsibilities, dates of employment, job titles and academic degrees.
While over half of employers surveyed had caught out a candidate with fibs on their CV, 50% of these would automatically dismiss a candidate for lying. The same survey also found that employers in the financial services were most likely to detect lies on a candidate’s application.
While you should certainly make the most of what you have to offer on your CV, you shouldn't confuse being creative with outright lying. Dates of employment and job titles are easily checked via references, and qualifications by contacting academic institutions or using the Higher Education Degree Datacheck service.
Is that job really worth breaching a potential employer’s trust? You should also bear in mind that it will be far worse should you get the job and get caught later on. Being fired from a job for dishonesty can seriously damage your future career choices.
There have been many posts this year showing how visual or creative CVs have gone viral and landed candidates fantastic jobs at places like Google. While they seem like a great idea, these movie poster CV’s, beer bottle resumes or billboard ads are one offs and should be treated as such - it would probably be overkill for a customer service rep to take out a full page ad in the Telegraph to get a recruiter's attention.
Making your CV more visually appealing however, is on the rise. There have been a slew of applications offering to turn your CV or social media profiles into a visual feast, including visualize.me and ResumUp. You can also turn your CV into a short movie to be shared on social media, via Resu-me. Here are some tips on making a video CV. Remember that this style may be best suited to creative types or those in the digital sector.
How to make your CV more visually appealing
The key for the rest of us mere mortals not in graphic design or advertising is that a well-laid out, consistently formatted CV is best. Use clear sections with most recent information first. Apply a standard font such as Arial and make sure you stick to the same font throughout. Colour is certainly in favour but keep it simple. Add colour to your name at the top of your CV, in the section dividers or background of boxes featuring key information such as achievements. Use the colour lightly and avoid garish tones, you’re not trying to win an arts award and you don’t want to distract the recruiter too much.
Younger people in the UK appear to be intimidated when it comes to writing about themselves and are shying away from promoting themselves professionally.
If you are finding it difficult to begin writing your CV then try this exercise:
Divide a piece of paper into three and name the sections ‘employment’, ‘education’ and ‘other’. In each section simply write relevant facts such as job titles, dates of employment or qualifications. Remember to include any voluntary work you’ve done or projects you participated in (whether in the workplace or as part of a training course or at university – all these things will come in handy to showcase your skills). Use this information as the base for your new CV.
If you need some further help on writing your CV, the University of Kent’s careers service has some fantastic guides.
In terms of self-promotion, there’s a difference between boasting about your achievements and being arrogant. Remember that you need to do some boasting in order to sell yourself to the recruiter.
Candidates often struggle to find achievements to put on their CV, probably as they underestimate what they've done. If you are battling with this then go through each of your jobs to date and note down any times that you feel you went above and beyond the scope of your role. Did you finish any projects ahead of schedule? Did you solve a problem or provide a customer with an exceptional outcome? Have you been recognised for your achievements, formally or informally? Check out any performance reviews to see if you can glean any further information you may have forgotten about.
As for how to present your achievements, one of the best ways is to use CAR - challenge, action, result. What was the problem? What action did you take and what was the outcome? Using this simple technique will help you to think about the facts in an objective way. Very helpful if you are like one of the 36% from the previous survey who said they didn’t know how to promote themselves without sounding boastful.
The underlying principle of a CV has changed little over the years; the main point is still to show a prospective employer what your career experience and key skills are and to get you shortlisted for interview. The key trends from 2015 however should have shown you how CVs and candidates are evolving. Use these lessons to give yourself the edge in your job search in the coming year.
Best of luck!
Need some professional help in writing your CV? Check out Blue Fox CVs who have helped hundreds of professionals like you to open doors with top employers.
Back to Candidate blogs