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How to revamp your CV

By Elena Mellara

We need to adapt in every single aspect of our life in this constantly changing world. This includes the idea that we might change our jobs more frequently than in the past. The job search starts with the CV. All this, together with a 180° career change, got me to the idea of the “Revamp your CV” workshop. A year’s job search experience together with practical tips attracted a diverse group of people to the workshop at TU Delft this past February.

Adapt your CV to the constantly changing job market

It’s a fact that the job market has drastically changed in the past 3-5 years. The companies are pickier than ever, there is more job demand and more job offer. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at a CV. Once this is acknowledged, the next step for somebody who is looking for a new job is to stand out from the job seeker crowd. HOW? This was the purpose of the workshop. Below you will find the top 3 topics extensively discussed with the audience.

It’s your CV, not your “grocery list”

Quite often, the CV is structured in a way which simply states your competencies in a specific role. These sentences read like: “responsible to create a monthly dashboard” or “in charge of measuring customer calls”, just to mention a few. And this goes on for the whole CV. It creates a grocery list, but does not show what the achievements are and how we measured them.  Writing something like: “created a monthly dashboard for the Sales Team to identify revenue leaks, leading to a cost saving of 5%” says exactly the same. It shows you were responsible for it, the timing, what accomplishment it gave and it measures the outcome.

In order to get rid of the grocery list you need to “show”, not “tell”, what you have done. How to do it? Put it into a very specific, time-framed context with results achieved.

Your picture will not secure you an interview

Putting your picture on a CV is “passé”. Instead, try to use your LinkedIn profile to show how you look professionally (make sure you have it updated). A picture takes away precious space in a CV which should be not more than 2 pages. Consider also that having a picture may lead to biases which may land your CV in the “rejected” pile. More importantly, it will not pass the ATS (Automated Tracking System) scan. Considering that 99.9% of medium to large companies use this system, you might want to reconsider whether your picture goes on your revamped CV.

How to explain a career gap

In some countries, and the Netherlands is one of them, there are some illegal questions. The explanation of a career gap might fall in between. There is no “one size fits all” answer to explain a gap. The advice is to have a structured, emotionless explanation. Without looking at the length of the gap, the advice is to be ready to show the following:

  • The reason it happened: for example, 1-year MBA/course; building a family; relocation, to name a few.
  • If you have done anything in between jobs (and what): In the case of a personal development list, the courses you attended. List the volunteer work done, if any, to bridge the gap.
  • What was the learning: a new skill to add to your CV; expat experience in case of relocation; time management in case of kids.
  • Reason to search for a job now: this answer could be your top reason also as to why you may want to work for this company.

As this is a sensitive – potentially illegal – topic, make sure you keep it short and give facts, not emotion. Especially if there are kids involved. It’s a family decision. Full stop. If the hiring manager and recruiter understand, fine, otherwise maybe you may want to re-think if you really, really want to work for them. You may want to address the gap in your cover letter, just to preempt the question during the interview.

Of course, we discussed many more insights on how to revamp your CV during the workshop. How to scan your CV to pass the ATS? How to prepare for an interview? These were the other “hot” topics. Being up to speed with the job market is a must. If you are under time pressure, or simply do not know how to do it, then look for a professional career coach. We are able to give the support to be effective in a shorter amount of time. Fingers crossed!


Elena is an Italian Career Facilitator and Executive Coach working in the Netherlands since 2008. She is the founder of the boutique agency Melly Consulting and has 20 years’ experience in corporate Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumers (B2C) companies covering managerial roles. She offers hands on packages for job seekers as well as career development and team building. Elena is completing the Certified Professional Coach (ACC) program plus the Team Coaching Gateway program.

From DMM Blog Coordinator:

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2 thoughts on “How to revamp your CV”

  1. Pingback: How to prepare for a job interview | Delft MaMa

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