When the future is uncertain, be prepared for anything.

When COVID-19 arrived in the UK in January, life turned upside-down. Around the world, the coronavirus brought national economies to a staggering halt, with economists agreeing that a global recession is seemingly inevitable. That appears to be starting at home, as the UK has officially fallen into a recession for the first time in 11 years.

The economy shrunk by 20.4 per cent in three months ‒ the largest quarterly plummet on record. In the first half of 2020, the UK took the largest economic plunge of any other G7 country. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak simply put it, the 'figures confirm that hard times are here'.

With businesses forced to close and consumers spending less, this economic downturn has come as no surprise. That doesn't negate its significance, however. The number of unemployed workers ‒ which has risen to the hundreds of thousandths during lockdown ‒ is only expected to grow.

So what does that mean for you?

If you have concerns about the status of your job ‒ or if you have already been made redundant ‒ your first step should be to recession-proof your CV so that you're ready to apply for positions during this challenging economic environment. The jobs market is becoming even more competitive. Luckily, we have some tips on building a strong CV which will help you set yourself apart from other applicants and survive the economic downturn.

Focus on your achievements

A well-written CV is much more than a dry list of responsibilities. It's absolutely vital to include what you've achieved in every role. This will show a potential employer not just what you did, but how well you did it. It makes it easy for them to understand how you've added value in previous jobs and therefore predict the impact you are likely to have on their company. Explain precisely how you increased revenue, improved efficiency, resolved an ongoing problem or – most importantly during a downturn – saved money. Which brings us to:

Quantify your successes

Saying that you achieved something is all well and good, but proving it is even better. Putting concrete figures against your claims shows that you understand the impact you had on the wider business and instantly makes the claims more credible. To truly recession-proof your CV, quantify your success in cold, hard pounds – for example: reduced production costs by £25,000 per year or increased profitability by £10K per month. If you held a budget, you should also state the size of your budget.

Demonstrate your hard skills

During an economic downturn, companies need to recruit staff who can hit the ground running. Time and money spent training a new recruit could be invested more profitably elsewhere in the business, so show that you have the hard skills necessary to make an impact from day one. Ensure that your CV captures all the requirements of the job advert, as well as keywords relating to your particular role or industry. Time spent researching similar roles on job boards or LinkedIn can pay dividends here. If you can show that you have the right industry knowledge and professional skills, you've already ticked some of the most important boxes.

Keep it concise

As we've mentioned, HR managers will likely have a lot of CVs to wade through. Rather than presenting them with pages of long, waffly paragraphs, use bullet points and aim to keep them to a maximum of two lines each. This will force you to write concisely and focus on the key points you need to convey, whilst making it easy for an HR manager to scan. As a general rule, two pages is long enough for most CVs. If you find yourself writing more than this, you need to be more ruthless in cutting out unnecessary words and focussing on what really matters.

Stand out

Standing out doesn't mean writing your CV in a pink font and inserting graphics at every opportunity (please don't do that!), but rather giving the reader a break from the same old phrases. Enthusiastic team player with good communication skills? Bye-bye. Writing a CV that looks like you've swallowed the dictionary of CV vocabulary won't impress anyone, and it's certainly neither creative nor setting you apart from any of the other candidates.

Don't generalise

Concentrate on what you do best, what makes you different and what your unique selling point is. If you have a few different types of jobs in mind, tailor your CV to fit each potential role you submit for rather than trying to capture everything in one document. Otherwise, you'll look like a Jack of All Trades and Master of None; recruiters will struggle to see your area of expertise and you'll come across as rather unfocussed and therefore not as committed to progressing your career in the specific role they're looking to fill.

Echo the advert or company website

Use the same vocabulary that you see in the job advert and on the company website. That's not to say you should copy and paste whole chunks of text verbatim, but if they're looking for someone with experience in hotels and restaurants, then make sure you include those two words – don't just say you have experience in hospitality. The same goes for the company ethos or values – try to include examples of when you've exhibited those behaviours and echo the language as far as is appropriate. When competition is high, you can give yourself an advantage by showing how you will fit into the company and align with their precise requirements.


As the economy that's a downturn, following these steps will help you be equipped with a strong CV to assure your next career move and position you head-and-shoulders above other candidates. Stay healthy, and good luck in your job search.

No matter the state of the economy, the state of your CV should always be strong. Submit for a free CV evaluation and we'll tell you if your CV is recession-ready.

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