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Insider Insights on Writing the Perfect CV

Only a handful of CVs or resumes are actually read in the hiring process. So, how do you make yours standout?
Comme Des Garçons SS19 | Source: InDigital
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  • BoF Team

LONDON, United Kingdom — A CV, or curriculum vitae ("the course of one's life" in Latin), is typically required for every job application, and crafting the perfect document is often one of the most time-consuming, painstaking and laborious processes involved in the entire recruitment process.

But despite the significant effort involved in redacting years of achievements into a concise and considered document, CVs should act as enticements to learn more and share evidence of what distinguishes you from your peers in as clear and obvious a way possible.

“The number of people that will actually read your resume is actually very few,” says Musa Tariq, who BoF partnered with for the online course Build Your Dream Career. “What we're looking for is headlines — key bits of information that are going to make you stand out.”

Tariq's impressive career trajectory saw him appointed to the C-Suite before the age of 35 and, following senior leadership roles at Nike, Burberry, Apple and Ford, he is now head of marketing at Airbnb.

To teach you how to capture the employer’s attention, BoF sat down with Tariq to hear about his tips on writing a compelling CV.

For more career and job application tips from Musa Tariq, click here.

Make it Clear and Uncluttered

Your CV is one of the first and few tools at your disposal to grab the attention of an employer. In order to do that, you need to keep the message clear and direct, which means a careful curation of the information provided.

“Try and keep your CV as simple and as easy to read as possible,” says Tariq. “I've seen people try way too hard. If you have a certain brand identity that you want to put out into the world, it makes sense. But make it authentic to you. Don't try too hard and overthink this. Try and get the information as clear and concise as possible.”

Keep it Short and Succinct

Your CV should be a synopsis of your job history, career skills and successes, which can be a challenge to condense when you want to show off your abilities. However, a long list can be information overload — and you can share additional details in a cover letter or at interview instead.

“I always encourage people to try and put their resume on one page,” says Tariq. “Look for things that you think are relevant to that role. My resume, despite the number of jobs I've had, is still only one page and it will always remain one page irrespective of what I do.”

Be Realistic with Your Edits

While you will want to show a sustained level of success and dedication to your career, some details will lose their poignancy as they become overshadowed by more recent, more relevant information. You should consider cutting out facts like winning a school trophy aged 18, or a two-week work placement at an unrelated company when you were 21.

“There might be a time in your career when you need to stop putting your internships on. But if there are internships on there, make sure that they are relevant to that career and that job, and it's something you can talk about,” says Tariq.

Approach it Like an Employer

Studying your CV repeatedly tends to distort its main purpose of conveying information simply. Try to remove yourself as the individual reflected on that piece of paper and look at it from another perspective — that of your interviewer.

“Take a look at your resume and ask yourself this simple question, ‘Would I want to meet this person?’” says Tariq. “At some point in your life, you will have to hire someone. What is it that you're looking for in a resume? And make sure your resume answers those questions.”

Adjust it Accordingly

While it might seem that a CV would only have one format to present your career, skills and successes, you can tailor it to suit the job to which you are applying. This might mean reshuffling the order of experience or adding an extra line or two detailing your experience.

“Think about the person you're sending it to. Think about what will interest them, and then, as a result, adjust your resume. The smartest people I've met would adjust [their resume] ever so slightly so that it's applicable to me as a recruiter or someone who's hiring,” says Tariq.

You can now gain access to all online course with a BoF Professional membership. Click here to get the latest insights and tip from industry experts.

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