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How to polish your CV: what to cut, what to keep

Marc Baloch, Head of Global Insurance at Harvey Nash, shares his top tips for making sure your CV stands out

Headhunters and decision makers will receive at least 30 unsolicited CVs and resumes a day, so you need to invest time to make sure yours stands out for all the right reasons.

A CV's sole purpose is to spark interest and get you through the door to interview stage. It needs to be clear and concise, enticing the reader to find out more about you. Employers look for what you can do for them. The reasons you are right for the job in question need to be obvious and easily accessible.

The best way to approach your CV is to identify your value proposition and capabilities, then write the document from scratch with these core elements front and centre. 

Be mindful of the 30:2:5 rule - the vast majority of employers will spend only 30 seconds scanning a CV before they choose to review the candidate's background in more depth. If you do manage to grab their attention, they are likely to spend 2 minutes reviewing your CV and, if they are very interested, they will take another 5 minutes to review your CV in detail and look into your background. 

As a useful guide always, limit your CV to 2 pages in length. If you have less than 10 years of experience or held only one of two positions with a single employer, a one-page resume will suffice. Be ruthless with your CV. Focus only on what a prospective employer needs to know, focusing on the following things:

A profile summary can be useful to demonstrate your core skills and value upfront
Interests are interesting, show your human side - only include genuine interests
A clear and well-structured format will ensure that your CV is more likely to be read
Ensure the font used is size 10+
Proof read - ensure you get a second opinion by asking someone you trust to review your CV

Don't forget your CV is only one element within the arsenal of tools at your disposal - all information that can be publicly accessed about you should be accurate and up to date.  Ensure your LinkedIn profile reflects your personal brand / value proposition and you are appropriately represented on the websites of any organisations you work for.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me directly

For more 'How to' advice don't forget to re-visit this blog.  If you have any suggestions for a future 'How to' piece please get in touch with us