Even if you’re not anticipating striking out on a new career path right now, the end of December nevertheless marks a natural lull in the yearly cycle in which to take stock of where you’re at and where you want to go next in your personal life and work. Here's how to review your professional life to date and get it down on paper so that, should a golden opportunity land in your lap, you’re ready to present your best professional image at a moment’s notice.
Get familiar with the job market
If you’re not actively looking for new work, it’s still important to approach the task as if you are. In fact, this exercise is probably even more useful to you if you have been in the same job for many years. Tailor your CV around the role(s) you would be most interested in. Be aspirational. You’ll soon find out how in touch you are with the job market, what the going rate is for someone of your calibre, and what skills and experience are in demand. You may realise you need to do further training. You may realise you need to ask your boss for a payrise!
Amend your CV
Now you are familiar with the demands of the current market, add in the skills you’ve acquired that employers are looking for. Be sure to add your latest role(s). Prioritise your updated employment information, skills, qualities and responsibilities, bringing the most recent, relevant and important to the top.
At the same time, ditch or reduce mentions of anything that is not pertinent to your application anymore. When all is said and done, try to make sure your CV is no longer than two pages. If it needs to be shortened, see where you can summarise previous jobs, qualifications, and education history, particularly if they are five years old or more.
Focus and refine it
The care you put into creating your CV speaks volumes about you before a would-be employer has even had a chance to be wowed by your highly sought-after skills and experience. Make sure your CV is short and to the point, easy to read, and free of errors and jargon, and that any claims made are specific, relevant and backed up by evidence. For more details, see our blog post on what makes a good CV. If attention to detail is not your strong suit, get a friend to check it over for any mistakes.
Adapt it for online
Paper CVs are no longer the only show in town. Your professional information is as likely to be seen by recruiters searching online as it is by employers you email or post your CV to. So make sure any updates to your CV are reflected on any professional social networks you use too. You can explore the differences between CVs and online profiles here and adapt the information in your new CV accordingly.
- What makes a good CV
- How to write your first CV
- Tips and advice on CVs and the whole application process