One cannot stress enough how important it is to formulate a CV that is up to par with the industry standards, especially if you find yourself in a fast-moving and condensed candidate market like the one in London. Because the volume of candidates is high, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd – in the best possible way.
Having just enjoyed my first year at Rutherford as a legal and compliance recruitment consultant, I have seen my fair share of CVs – good and not so good. If you are considering a career change within legal, financial crime, cyber security or compliance recruitment and don’t know how to optimise your CV for your job search, the below list underlines a few do’s and don’ts based on what I have personally seen over the past year.
If you wish to get further advice on CV writing, discover Rutherford’s CV advice.
To gain a maximum advantage when applying for specific vacancies, it is certainly sensible to adapt your CV so it aligns perfectly with what the role entails. Try and focus on specific skills, achievements and experience gained that make sense for the role that you are applying for. Hiring managers can spot a generic CV almost immediately which will have an obvious negative impact on the chances of your application being considered.
Don’t Leave Gaps
Do not assume that hiring managers will ever give you the benefit of the doubt. Noticeable gaps on your CV will always cause suspicion. While gaps are sometimes understandable in the context of either professional or personal events that have occurred during your career, the most effective route of action would be to try and add a positive spin on it. Did you undertake some sort of professional qualification, course, volunteer work or other form of self-development during this gap period? If this is the case, make it clear!
Keep It Tidy and Concise
While certain search firms - like ours - will carefully go over CVs to meticulously assess a candidate's profile and skills, a vast number of hiring managers on the market spend a short amount of time on each resume. According to a Glassdoor article, the average time spent on a resume by hiring managers is a mere seven seconds, giving credence to the fact that one's CV really needs to be to the point and relevant. Standard practice suggests that a CV should be no more than two pages in length although this is not a concrete rule. Individuals who have contracted or those candidates who have had lengthy careers cannot be expected to keep their CV to just two pages, so discretion is of course required. The best piece of advice I can provide is to keep your CV neat, relevant, organised and professional.
Don’t Be Careless
I have dealt with unfortunate situations where good candidates have not been considered for roles by hiring managers due to errors in their CVs. Your CV is undoubtedly the most important document in your job search. It makes sense that it might be viewed undesirably that if a candidate has not taken a meticulous approach when putting together their CV, this might be a negative reflection of their professional aptitude. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors and while it may sound obvious, ensure that any presented dates are accurate.
Keep It Up to Date
Even if you have no immediate desire to leave your current role, it is always worth keeping your CV current. Should something substantial happen in your career or should you achieve something commendable, it should be recorded so it is not forgotten later. I have had conversations with candidates where they were unable to recall when they had worked on a specific project which would have aided their application.
Don’t be Dishonest
Don’t put yourself in a position that could land you in hot water. Hiring managers will always conduct a background check on positions held and references, so it goes without saying that anything presented on your CV must be a truthful account of your career history. It should also be quite apparent but sitting in an interview unable to answer questions presented to you is not only awkward but can seriously hamper your professional aspirations.
While trying to avoid repetition, it is worth reiterating that your CV is essentially an initial introduction to a hiring manager. How you present yourself on paper can have an immense impact on whether you are considered for an initial interview, let alone a role itself. Keep your applications relevant and your layout simple to achieve an advantage in an already competitive hiring market.