Pictured above: Developer CV template
A CV is one of the rare documents that you have to keep and update for decades, and if you don’t keep on top of the latest trends in CV templates and employer demands, you could struggle to keep pace.
If you’re unsure whether your curriculum vitae needs a revamp or a complete overhaul, here are 5 reasons you might need a new CV.
You’re getting rejected
If you’re failing to get to the interview stage, now could be a good time to re-think your CV strategy. If you’re highly skilled, qualified and experienced for the roles you’re applying for and you don’t hear anything back, it will most likely come down to the presentation, layout, and potential failure to tailor your CV to each role.
When faced with other candidates who have the same skills and in some cases are more qualified than you, the employer has to rely on the presentation of a CV in order to make a final decision on who they want to interview.
If you’re not getting to the interview stage you should consider starting completely from scratch with your CV. If you’re having difficulty trying to narrow down what specifically may be wrong, creating a new CV will ensure you don’t leave anything to chance.
Look for a brand new ready made CV template online, which will save you a huge amount of time right from the start. A fantastic new CV template will not only give your CV a fantastic new look, it will also serve to get those creative juices flowing and give you the very best start for a new CV. A CV template will also ensure you cover all of the expected sections an employer wants to see.
Spelling mistakes are one of the biggest issues a hiring manager comes across when reading lots of CVs, so make sure you don’t fall into that trap and consider having someone else check your CV for any errors.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
You’ve had it for many years
Your CV should always be tailored to each role you apply for. If you’re using the same old and tired CV that you’ve had for many years, now would be a good time to create a brand new CV – and of course, customise it to match the job criteria.
No matter how similar each role is that you apply for, every company will have a different take on that role and you should notice this in the job advert. Although similar skills and qualifications will be required, each company will differ slightly and use different keywords to describe tasks and skills. You need to ensure you match those keywords for each application, even if that means tweaking your CV every single time.
If you’ve been using the same CV for many years you will probably also need to update the look and layout. Employer’s expectations will continue to change and grow each year, and if you’ve been in a job for many years and are now looking for a new role, your CV will certainly be behind the times and in much need of a revamp at the very least.
Make sure to also update your references and contact those people to see if they are still happy to speak on your behalf. Getting support from a reference and letting them know you are seeking a new job will allow them to prepare for a potential phone call or email, and having them on standby is a great way to ensure your reference is accurate and positive.
Human capital management strategist Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write suggests you refresh your CV twice annually.
“Waiting one or two – or more – years to update your résumé can be a large endeavor. On a rainy day, things will be more pleasant if you have an umbrella.” ~ Debra Wheatman
You’re looking to change careers
If you’ve decided to change career paths entirely, then your CV will need to be changed completely too. No longer will all of your skills and qualifications be as relevant as they were before, so the focus of your CV will need to change and adapt to the new industry.
Because your CV should always be tailored to the role and industry you’re applying for, this will mean that there could be lots of skills that are now irrelevant, as well as a lot of your employment history. A complete change in career is always difficult, but will be much harder if you don’t decide to write a new CV.
You should however have lots of transferable skills that you can focus upon, and something which you could explain further in your personal statement or cover letter. A lack of direct experience doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to change careers, and a new CV with a new focus is a great place to start.
“If your CV is always up-to-date then you can quite easily fill in those online applications because you have got all that information [you need] to hand.” ~ Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management.
You’ve gained something new
Even if you are currently in work and are not actively looking for a new job, you should always keep your CV up to date. It can be very easy to continue to work each day and completely forget about your CV, cause what’s the point in worrying about it if I have a job right?
The problem with this is that many years could pass, and with your CV locked away in the cupboard gathering dust you could easily forget what you’ve been achieving all these years.
The chances of anyone staying in the same job for the rest of their life is quite small, and no matter how much you love your job and feel that you have job security, things can and often will change. If you find yourself coming out of a job you’ve been in for years, you might have a lot of difficulty with that old dusty CV.
Keeping it updated every time you learn something new, gain a new skill, gain a new qualification, take part in a training course, get nominated for an award, win employee of the month, get promoted, take on more responsibility, and so on – means you should be adding this to your CV, along with the dates and a description.
Rather than edit your CV each time, you could also instead just take notes so you can add it later. Above all else, don’t forget how important your CV is and will most likely be used many times during your life.
“Whether you’re currently in or out of employment, keeping your CV up to date is essential as you never know when you may need it. There may be the opportunity for promotion within your current organisation or you may be actively job seeking and find a role that you want to apply for. You need to be prepared and ensure that you can send a CV out quickly or you may miss out on the perfect opportunity.” ~ CABA
You’re coming back from a break
You may have been out of work for a while raising a family, travelling around the world, or for personal health reasons – but no matter what the reason, you’ll need to write a new CV if you want to get back into work.
A new CV will not only give you the chance to make a fresh start and keep up to date, it will also allow you to explain your absence and focus upon your entry back into work. You can use your personal statement or cover letter to explain your absence, and always try to write in a positive tone.
Depending on the reason for your absence, always try to write a new CV that shows an employer what you’ve learned and gained from your time away. You may have been volunteering or working part time, so you should use this as work experience – it doesn’t matter if it wasn’t full time.
Always explain a gap in employment and don’t shy away from it. An employer would always be suspicious if they see an employment gap with no explanation, and would always prefer you to be honest. If you have the skills and experience needed for a role, and you’ve written a brand new CV using a fantastic CV template, then that’s all that matters.
“Where maternity stretches to a career break it is important to emphasise skills maintained and developed though any volunteer work such as school PTAs or parkrun. You can also include any voluntary activity such as raising money, negotiating prizes or sponsorship which demonstrates a number of skills including project management, people co-ordination, communication skills, PR, marketing or even IT skills.” ~ Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity at recruitment agency Hays.