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The UK labour market has shown some promising signs of recovery in 2021. This news is great for anyone looking for work, but it also means tight competition amidst the hiring surge as people find their way back into employment. 

A polished, properly formatted CV that represents the best of you and your abilities makes all the difference in first impressions, even if in-person interactions aren’t possible during this time. 

We’ve listed 8 ways to improve your CV to help you achieve employment in 2021. 

  1. Emphasise your ability to adapt to post-COVID working conditions

Many people experienced working from home (WFH) for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjusting to remote work is another skill itself, which requires quality and productivity despite not being in an office setting. 

With WFH still in place for many companies, show how well you’ve adapted to the new working conditions by mentioning any of the following in your CV:

  • Learning to use remote work-friendly apps such as Slack or Monday.com
  • Delivering the same quality and amount of work (or more) while working at home 
  • Having strong communication skills (written, as well as verbal for all those Zoom calls)

 

  1. Format your CV so it’s easy for employers to follow

UK employers are facing a large influx of applications due to this year’s hiring surge. Since they’re sifting through more CVs than usual, a legible and presentable CV is crucial to help your application make the cut.

Use professional and legible fonts like Times New Roman or Baskerville throughout your CV. Your main headings and body text font sizes should stay between 10.5 to 12 points, with the exception of your header which should be 20 to 24 points.

Spacing also impacts readability. Use 1.27cm margins if you have a lot of text on your CV, and 2.5cm margins if you’re trying to stretch out your information.

Lastly, convert your document to PDF before sending it out. PDF is the most accessible file type for employers, and using the PDF file format ensures your CV retains all of that careful formatting.

 

  1. Use a functional CV if you have a large unemployment gap

There are many types of CVs, and most people with consecutive work experience use a CV formatted with work experience in chronological order. However, the pandemic disrupted the professional trajectories of many, and led to employment gaps for millions of individuals with otherwise stable careers. 

If your work history now looks a bit bumpy, try using a skills-based CV. This format prioritises your skills rather than your work history. By highlighting your specific professional skills, you downplay any work experience miscues that were caused by the pandemic and make yourself an even more marketable candidate.

  1. Describe your career aspirations for 2021 in your personal statement

 

A personal statement summarises your career achievements, top skills, qualifications, and goals at the top of your CV. A good personal statement helps employers get a sense of who you are as a potential employee, and quickly determine whether you’re the ideal candidate for the job.

While optional, writing a clear and informative personal statement gives your 2021 job application an advantage over other aspiring candidates by quickly highlighting your ability to handle the work. 

And even if you have minimal professional experience, you can use your personal statement to express your enthusiasm for a specific role and mention your relevant academic accomplishments.

Personal statements usually come in the form of either a short paragraph or four to five bullet points. Here are a few things you can mention in your personal statement:

  • Number of years worked
  • Highest level of education
  • Awards, certifications, and specialisations
  • Hard numbers to back up work achievements
  • Overall career objectives and aspirations

 

  1. Use industry-specific language and relevant keywords

As the labour force becomes progressively specialised in 2021, prove you’re the ideal job applicant by including industry-specific language in your CV. Using industry-specific language helps demonstrate your industry expertise, and sets you apart from people submitting bulk applications. 

In addition, CVs are often scanned by Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to weed out unqualified candidates. Having keywords from the job advert in your CV helps your application bypass ATS software and be seen by a human. 

Here’s an example of keywords included in a marketing job advert — as you can see, there are usually many to choose from:

Source

  1. Show employers what you learned or achieved during the pandemic in your work experience section

2020 posed many challenges for professionals. Employers understand that, and are more interested in how you overcame those challenges.

Was there something significant you achieved at work during the pandemic? How did you adjust, and what skills did you learn? 

The best place to highlight your ability to adapt and thrive is in the work experience section of your CV, where you can describe both your experience and achievements in greater detail. 

Format your CV to reflect these experiences and achievements by addressing each of your past positions in the following order:

  1. Job title
  2. Company name
  3. Primary location of job OR Remote 
  4. Duration of employment 
  5. 3–5 bullet points describing your main duties and achievements

 

  1. Use an up-to-date CV template

If your CV is outdated in terms of design, give it a refresh by downloading a free CV template from the web. Using an existing CV template allows you to focus more on updating content, which is what employers care about the most. 

And try your best to pick a template that’s appropriate for your industry. For example, stick to traditional or contemporary designs if you’re in education or work in a corporate setting. Templates with splashes of colour or embellishments are best suited for creative industries. 

 

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