Whew! At this point, it feels like you’ve read hundreds of job descriptions to find the perfect role, and on top of that, you’ve spent hours carefully crafting and tailoring your CV. So, you definitely don’t want to fall at the final hurdle.
Before you hit send on that email, you need to make sure your CV contains everything you need and that you haven’t made any silly mistakes. To help boost your chances of landing the role, here are five checks to make before submitting a CV.
1. Consider the length of your CV
It’s best to keep your CV to just one or two A4 pages. This is because recruiters don’t have long to scan through each CV they read, so you need to keep it as short and sweet as possible (while including all relevant information, of course).
So, if you’re looking at your three page CV, or perhaps a one and a half-page CV, think about ways you can cut this down without ruining the format. In many cases, this means cutting out any waffle or unnecessary content; this could include:
- Irrelevant skills or past experience
- Outdated or irrelevant qualifications
- Cliche phrases or adjectives such as ‘dedicated’ and ‘passionate’
- A long list of past responsibilities – replace this with your achievements to prove how you’ve added value in a past role
You might also be able to cut your CV down just by reformatting some areas to make it more succinct and better laid out.
2. Make sure it’s easy to read
Your CV can be as persuasive as you like and bursting with relevant skills and achievements. However, if it’s impossible to read, the recruiter is going to give up and chuck it on the rejection pile in a matter of seconds. Before you send it, you need to make sure it is easy to read and that you’ve chosen an appropriate font. Typically you want to choose something simple and clean like Times New Roman or Helvetica.
You also need to make sure that you haven’t tried to cut your CV down by making your font size 10 and filling the page to the brim with content. It’s best to choose a readable font size; we recommend size 12. You should then break up your different sections with headings and bullet points where necessary. If you haven’t done this already, you need to have a re-think before you send off your CV.
3. Double-check your contact details
The pressure of writing a killer CV can affect even the best of us. When you’re focussing on important sections such as your personal profile and key skills, it can be easy to make a mistake in your contact details. So you need to double-check your email and phone number before sending your CV to ensure it’s right. Think about it; just one wrong letter or a missing digit could cost you the interview.
4. Triple-check your spelling and grammar
Before you submit any CV, you need to make sure you’ve read it through several times to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. These can make you look unprofessional, and they prove you don’t pay much attention to detail. But it’s not just enough for you to re-read it yourself because, after a while, your eyes become blind to these mistakes. After all, when you’ve written something, you know what you mean to say, therefore as you scan through the document, you could miss something.
So to make triple sure your CV is ready to submit, you should get someone else to read it through (or perhaps several people). This could be your friend, your mum, your brother or anyone else for that matter. You could also put your CV content through a writing assistant if you have access to one (there are some great free versions online, such as Grammarly).
5. Get the file format right
Finally, imagine putting all that time and effort into perfecting your CV and then the recruiter is unable to open the file when they receive it.
To avoid this, you need to make sure your CV is saved in a standard file format that anyone can open. It’s best to stick with a Word document or PDF and definitely avoid sending your CV as a Powerpoint, HTML or Jpeg file. By running these five checks before you submit your CV, you can ensure it is well-formatted, easy to read and that you haven’t made any silly mistakes – boosting your chances of being invited in for an interview.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of Job Description Library and StandOut CV, two leading UK careers advice websites. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.