Rewriting Your CV during COVID: 10 Things You Should Consider

Andrew Arkley is the founder of Purple CV, one of the UK’s leading CV writing providers. He has over 15 years’ experience in HR and recruitment at a senior level and has conducted thousands of interviews, so he knows precisely what it takes to land a job.

Job-seekers nowadays just can’t catch a break. Things were already shaky and unstable back in 2019 with Brexit looming on the horizon, with businesses on the back foot and contracting their activity. The advent of COVID-19 made things even worse, with many businesses going under or downsizing significantly. 

The bottom line is that large numbers of people lost their jobs. It took a while for unemployment statistics to start reflecting this, but the way things are going, unemployment rates are projected to once more reach the levels they were at a decade ago. 

Under the circumstances, competition among job-seekers will be fiercer than ever. Applicants will need to be on their toes to even stand a chance of getting hired. This means that their CV writing game needs to be top-notch. 

At the end of the day, your CV is likely going to be your first point of contact with any company you seek employment in – if you really want to get the job, you should make sure you do everything right. 

Here are the ten most important things to consider when building your CV.

Companies Often Use Bots To Sort Through CVs

Technology is everywhere, and automation has enabled companies to boost productivity to hitherto unimagined levels. The tools available to businesses in the form of AI-driven solutions have made every part of the business process easier and more effective – from designing a product to manufacturing it to supplying it to the customer. 

While not one of business’ main functions, HR is one of the aspects of business that has benefited tremendously from the march of technology. Sorting software is all the rage now, with recruiters only ever bothering to look at applications that the bots have already labeled as acceptable. This means that, as a job applicant, the first interaction you will have with a company is probably going to be via the software it uses to sort through CVs. 

With this in mind, it may be a good idea to advertise your knowledge of the industry you’re trying to get hired in by using specific terms and phrases that are unique to that type of business. Take this into consideration when you write your CV.

Your CV Will be Judged at a Glance by HR

If you pass the bot test, your CV will end up in front of the eyes of an HR employee. Managing to convince them that you’re a worthy applicant will be your second big challenge – especially since you’re not likely to get that much of a chance to do so. 

Research indicates that, on average, recruiters review individual CVs in less than half a minute. Some studies even indicate that HR workers often spend as little as six seconds on average browsing a CV before deciding whether to chuck it in the bin or not.

This may seem disheartening, and indeed – heartless, but you need to remember that companies need to move at breakneck speed to stay ahead of the competition. This goes for all aspects of their business, including hiring. So instead of getting hung up on it, you should take this into consideration when creating a CV.

What you could do to counter this is to make your CV as clear cut as possible. Use a bullet point format that stresses the important parts so that they can be reviewed quickly, with added clarifications that could be looked into at length if they are relevant.

Contact Details Need to be Clear and Present

When you create a CV, make sure all your personal details and contact information is present, clear, and up to date. If you are reworking an old CV – check to see if the phone number and email address provided in your details are the ones you currently use. Doing this ensures that you will not miss a job opportunity because you failed to respond to a company’s attempt to reach you.

Polish Your Presentation

We touched on this briefly in a previous section, but it can’t be emphasized enough – a CV is not an autobiographical work of literature. Your brilliantly witty delivery will not matter if it never even gets read – so format your CV in a way that’s suitable for browsing. 

Additionally, trim the fat from your text as much as humanly possible. Be crisp, concise, and to the point in every single sentence. Don’t wax lyrically. Proofread your CV critically, and try to spot any instance where you might have used flowery language. If you happen to find any such cases, re-phrase and simplify the passage to contain only straight, unambiguous information about the subject it is about. 

Note that while being succinct is strictly better than being verbose, this does not mean that you should trim the list of things that you should put on your resume. Make sure you list all the qualifications and experiences that you can think of. Your education, all your certifications and qualifications, your working and volunteer experience, your membership in relevant organizations – all of these aspects of your life should be detailed in your CV, concisely enough to be digestible at a glance.

Tailor Your CV to the Current Job Application

As tempting as it may seem to just make one really good polished CV and send it to every prospective employer, that may not be the best strategy. Many companies are looking for experts or talent in their particular field, so if you want to get noticed, it may be a good idea to emphasize the aspects of your CV that your employer would be interested in. 

Doing this may be as simple as rearranging the order of bullet points so that the ones relevant to your prospective employer appear at the top. Additionally, it may be a good idea to bulk up the sections that provide details that make you appear fit for the position and make sure they stand out. 

One tactic you should definitely avoid is quoting the job requirements verbatim. It’s a good idea to cover all the bases and more, but do it in a manner that’s a bit more circumspect.

Emphasize Your Technical Aptitude

Long gone are the days when you could get by without extensive knowledge about the ins and outs of technology. Technological aptitude has been a part of the critical skill set for nearly every job on the market for a few years now – and the advent of social distancing measures and remote work has made it even more important than ever. 

With this in mind, consider making your mastery of technology a central point in your CV. Listing all the skills you have when it comes to technology and all the systems you have mastered may not be a bad idea. Doing so demonstrates both your ability and willingness to learn – and those are qualities that companies have come to value tremendously. So, advertise your command of technology, regardless of what the job you’re applying for is.

Be Mindful of Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Your CV is likely going to be your first point of contact with any company you seek employment in.


Accentuate Your Soft Skills

So-called “soft skills” are another aspect of your personal qualities that you need to advertise when writing a CV. Companies have discovered that these traits are also important and will look for indications that they are present in a job applicant. 

Adaptability and flexibility are both important qualities to have. An employee’s openness to new ideas and business practices, as well as the ability to adopt them quickly and without hassle, is something very useful for employers. 

Resilience and perseverance are also invaluable qualities for an employee. The world of 2020 and beyond is going to be one rife with challenges, setbacks, and crises. This is why it is very important for employers that their workers would be able to maintain composure, optimism, and persevere through difficult moments.

Having good communication skills has always been key for getting a job. Currently, communication is hindered by social distancing measures – and since COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, this will probably be the case for the foreseeable future as well. This makes communication and relationship management abilities even more important than ever.

It is especially important to emphasize these abilities if you don’t have much previous job experience.

Include Non-Work-related Experience

Including experience that is not strictly work-related in your CV may also be a good idea. Any special training courses you’ve attended, certificates for seminars you’ve taken part of – anything of the sort should be included in your CV. Accounts of charity work you have done could also find their way into your CV. In fact, listing all of the activities that demonstrate your positive qualities is encouraged. 

On that note, consider detailing all the languages you are familiar with, even if your proficiency is not certified.

Fill in the Gaps in Your CV 

COVID-19 left an ugly hole in many people’s CVs. Recruiters don’t generally like to see downtime periods, even if they’re completely justified – so you would have to do your best to convince your prospective employer that your time was not spent idling about. Including a good list of productive activities, such as online courses, that you did during the lockdowns demonstrates your initiative, spirit, and ingenuity.

Make Sure Your Social Media is Spotless

Providing links to your social media accounts in your CV may not be as absurd as it may appear at a glance. Most companies would check those when they do their due diligence on job applicants anyway, so it may be a good idea to just spare them the effort of searching and demonstrate that you’re up to date with that aspect of modernity at the same time. Just make absolutely sure that your social media presence is immaculate beforehand.


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