Looking back with rose-tinted spectacles has its place…but not when creating a fresh, new CV that's fit-for-purpose
We're learning from the past all the time. It can shape how we see our future. Mistakes that have been made can be taken in, digested… and not repeated. This also applies to CVs.
How have CVs changed?
Things move forward, fashions shift… and CVs are almost unrecognisable from the documents they were even 10 years ago. The world moves on apace and the jobs market is forever shifting, with positions at the top of the stack that hadn't even been invented five years ago. If your CV is outdated and looks like it comes from a different era, you'll get left behind. Follow the advice below to get your CV shipshape and firmly in the 21st century.
Then: Often the document would actually have the words “Curriculum Vitae” at the top of the page. This was followed by the name of the applicant, including middle name, and sometimes even a “Mr” or “Mrs”. Underneath, along with a home telephone number and full address, was a variety of personal details such as date of birth, gender, marital status, and even number of children.
Now: This section is very clean and stripped back to the essentials, due to anti-discrimination laws. Do include the name you're known by and your surname. Under that should be your location, which can just be the city or town you live in, plus the postcode, your mobile number (no need to add in your home phone number, as who uses those nowadays?), email address and LinkedIn link. Additionally, it's wise to highlight your current job title, if appropriate, so that the reader can immediately see what level you're currently working at and potentially looking for.
Professional Profile and Objective
Then: A rambling set of sentences that waffled on and was often littered with clichés. Underneath was invariably an Objective section, detailing what sort of job you were looking for.
Now: The Profile is a bespoke and succinct round-up of what you can offer and the skills you have, tailored to each job role. Pick out any key words in the job advert that apply to you and add those in. There's no need for the Objective section, so use that space to add in a line or two more to the Professional Profile - avoiding traditional cliches such as “hardworking” and “enthusiastic”.
Then: It was often the case that Career Summaries were extremely detailed, with every job listed in depth, going back several decades, and simply listing responsibilities.
Now: Recruiters are only interested in the last 10 years of your employment, so discard earlier irrelevant roles. Concentrate instead on key achievements and insert key phrases selected from the job advert. List your jobs in reverse chronological order so that the most recent is first.
Then: Situated right at the top of the CV, just under the contacts section, with a detailed list of O Levels from 1986, including subjects and grades, written with the last first and the first last. A degree in Physics from a reputable university was buried underneath O Level and A Level results.
Now: Unless you're a recent graduate or switching careers (with a recent qualification that's more relevant than your latest job) this section comes after the Career Summary. List in reverse chronological order with your most recent qualifications at the top. If you've secured a Master's degree, there's no need to include secondary school or sixth form qualifications as your degrees will showcase your educational accomplishments.
Then: A line at the bottom of the CV stating: 'References are available upon request', or even a list of actual names and contact details.
Now: This part has been totally removed from CVs as it's no longer required. It takes up valuable space, and it's a given that this information is only needed if you get to the interview stage.
Hobbies and Interests
Then: An entire section dedicated to your life outside of work. Generally included “Watching television” and “Following the football”.
Now: There's no need for a section on interests and hobbies any more, especially if it states your love of “socialising with family and friends”. That's not a hobby, it's what everyone does! As with the now redundant References section, a line about how you love listening to music or going to the gym doesn't add value, so that space can be used for something that does.
Format and Template
Then: Fancy fonts, lots of tables and text boxes, maybe even a bit of colour thrown in for good measure. There was a feel of more style than substance, so the reader couldn't concentrate on the actual content.
Now: The look of a CV is still important but has taken a more professional path. The fashion nowadays is to keep the document clean and clear with easy-to-read fonts, such as Arial or Calibri. Steer clear of tables and text boxes and focus instead on crisply written content.
Current best practice for CVs
As well as all of the above, the addition of a skills section is a must. Often titled “Key Skills”, “Skills Matrix” or “Key Competencies”, this helps CVs to get through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), a computer system with an algorithm that scores CVs on certain merits - key words and phrases are high on the list. It should sit on the first page under the Professional Profile section and before the Career Summary, presented as a list.
Now you've got the tools at your disposal, it's time to create a CV for 2022 and beyond… not one that comes from the 1990s!
Don't take a gamble by relying on family and friends for CV advice. Trust our CV writers, who are on top of the latest trends in the CV world, by requesting a free CV review today.
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