How To Optimize Your CV When You Have A Lot To Say

Brevity and precision can place a mediocre CV ahead of a more qualified applicant, but does that make experience a disadvantage?

CV experienced workers


Many people who have been in the corporate world for long tend to take for granted the need for an optimised CV that relates their strengths to the position at hand. They are confident in their many years of experience, very high qualifications and the long list of skills, competencies and achievements that they just want to put it all out there and overwhelm the competition. Often, this only serves to lengthen their CV and bore the recruiter or turn them off completely.

Brevity and precision can place a mediocre CV higher than that of a more qualified applicant. Does this mean having a lot of experience and a litany of skills is a disadvantage to the holder? Not at all. It calls for a bit of prioritising and leaves little room for lies, unnecessary show offs and long stories. The point is to put just enough information on the CV to get an interview; at the interview, you can capture your listeners with tales of all your corporate exploits and smile all the way to your new job. Answering these questions will help an applicant decide what information to put on the resume and what to hold out on till the interview.


  • What Are the Job Requirements?

It is a rookie mistake to see a job opening for a marketing manager and pull out your old resume, add a few more skills and send. It is essential to understand the industry that the position is required in and speak to it specifically. If a mining company seeks to hire a marketing manager, it is counter-productive to list all your competencies in your former position as a marketing manager for a recruitment firm. You cut your CV short by looking at the job requirements and listed responsibilities and speak directly to them as briefly as possible. Resist the urge to send a template resume; send one that is tailored to the specific position being advertised. This method helps you cut out a lot of unnecessary details from your resume while making you position yourself as the best candidate for the position.

  1. What Skills Should Land on Your Resume?

When it comes to listing skills on a resume, sticking to the job description is not always the best way to go. Work-related skills are divided into two basic types: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the qualifications you need to do a particular job. For example, if you’re applying for the position of “Software Developer,” you need to know the required programming languages. That’s a hard skill. Soft skills are “people skills.” They’re harder to measure because they relate to your emotional intelligence and personality.

Here are some examples of soft skills:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Relationship building

It’s hard to prove that you’ve got these skills. After all, there are no certificates for great time management skills or collaboration. But that’s also why recruiters value them so much. When faced with two candidates who have the same hard skills, hiring managers will choose the one that also included great soft skills on their resume. Both hard and soft skills are essential to a successful job application. But how can you tell which skills recruiters want from you the most? The job description will give a fair idea what skills to put up and what skills to hold on to. For instance, being a great negotiator may not be the best soft skill to put on a resume when you are applying to be a computer programmer but paying attention to detail is better and more relevant.

  1. Research Which Skills Your Sector Values Most

Often, there are many skills not listed in the job description that recruiters will still find valuable. If you’re after a particular job, find out what skills are valuable in that profession by researching through people with a similar job on LinkedIn. Type the job title into the search bar. LinkedIn will suggest “people with ___ titles”– for example, “people with Creative Director titles.” Click on it. Check out the top profiles with skills in mind. See any skills that pop up across multiple profiles? There’s a good chance that these skills are universally valuable for that profession. Having a fair idea of what the industry standards are will make you come off as current and on top of trends in your industry. Now go ahead and list your competencies and experience in exhibiting these modern trends. This method will effectively sift out some skills from your last 3 jobs and make your resume look current. You can also look at similar job descriptions to see what other skills are listed. It’s the same principle as checking out professionals on LinkedIn. Look for skills repeated across similar job descriptions. Add them to your resume if you have them.

  1. Where Should You Place Skills on a Resume?

Many people are guilty of finding a lot of generic skills and cramming them all at the bottom of their resume. This makes the skills detached from all the other things that have been stated earlier in terms of previous jobs, achievements and capabilities. Place your skills in prominent locations throughout your resume and make them flow seamlessly with everything else on the resume. For example, if you’re a genius at programming in Java, incorporate the skill into your experience section:

Skill: Knowledge of Java

Experience Section Entry: Delivered 13 Java application projects for small- to mid-sized organizations. Add figures and numbers to draw attention to the skill. These numbers will help the hiring managers get a sense of your expertise and imagine you achieving similar results for them.

  1. Now, Check that You’ve Added Plenty of Keyword Skills

There is a chance that your resume will have to pass through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. The software scans your resume for relevance before ranking it among others. That means that you have to create a resume that will satisfy both the bots and the humans. The software will scan the resume for keywords. These keywords are often the same as those that appear in the job description.  Add these keywords to your resume and the software will find it relevant.

To do it well, you need to scatter keywords throughout your resume. If appropriate, use phrases from the description verbatim. The one thing you don’t want to do is pack your resume with keywords.

Remember that a human being will have to read your resume in the end. And packing your resume with keywords will make it incoherent. Don’t create a collection of skills without any context just for the sake of relevance and when in doubt, always ask the professionals for help.


Doreen Mueke
Notification Bell