How to Update Your CV Without Ruining It
Curriculum vitae is Latin for ‘course of life’. And, throughout the course of your life, you’re going to have to update your CV every now and again to add new information, apply at new organisations and simply stay competitive.
Updating a CV will of course include your most recent work history, skill proficiencies and accomplishments. But, don’t just start deleting and adding things from the start.
A lot of that old information—perhaps most of it—might still be relevant and useful, while some of the new stuff may not deserve a place on your CV. But how can you know what to axe and what to keep?
Here are the best ways to update your charity CV easily and effectively.
1. Tailor to the specific job
One of the most important rules when preparing your CV is to tailor it to the specific job description and the charity you’re applying for. No two jobs are the same, and, likewise, no two CVs you hand in should be the same.
Locate relevant keywords in a particular job description to include in your CV. Where applicable, add those keywords throughout your skills section and other areas. When you apply to a second job, spend an extra 10 minutes repeating this process rather than sending in the same CV, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
2. Make it easier on the eyes
When updating your CV, don’t just tweak the text—be mindful of the design, as well.
CVs are summaries of your entire professional and academic career, and then some, meaning they’re going to be packed with information. Make sure there’s plenty of white space so it’s easy for the hiring manager to read. Use clear headings for the various subsections to allow them to skim straight to the parts which interest them the most.
Pay attention to other design elements, as well. Choose a legible font, and don’t go overboard on colours. Use neat columns to keep everything organised and include bullet points under job history and other relevant sections if you hadn’t already.
3. Swap sections around
You now have more experience than when you made your original CV. So, whether it’s been years since you last updated it or just a few months, prioritise the most impactful items up top.
For example, if when you first made your CV you had just finished university, your academic history section may have come just beneath your career objective statement. Similarly, you may have included voluntary experience above work experience on your first application (as your job experience was a bit thin). If you’ve accumulated several years of work experience since, charity-related or otherwise, move the education and volunteering sections down a slot to allow hiring managers to see your job history first.
4. Remove old and irrelevant entries
As you dust off your CV to bring it up to date, it may be time to prune previous entries to make space for new experience and achievements. If you’ve had over a decade in your career path already, leave off some of your earliest entries, particularly when they have nothing to do with your profession now.
Have you earned a certificate in interior design which you proudly mentioned on your previous CV? When writing your fundraising coordinator CV now, it’s unnecessary, and it’ll only take up valuable real estate and detract from the rest of your accomplishments. Likewise, if you’ve completed a university degree, remove mention of your sixth form or A-level exam scores. Remember: if it isn’t relevant to or helpful in getting the job you want, omit it.
5. Quantify your achievements
Hiring managers in the not-for-profit sector see it all the time: candidates were ‘responsible for’ this task and ‘managed’ that activity. However, this doesn’t tell them exactly how well you performed.
Instead, quantify your achievements. Rather than saying you were ‘responsible for a fundraising campaign’s social media efforts’, use numbers to prove it, such as: ‘Oversaw fundraising campaign’s social media efforts and increased engagement by 25% while increasing followers by 35%’.
6. Leverage your cover letter
Sometimes the best way to update your CV is to make strategic use of the accompanying cover letter. Don’t use your cover letter to repeat points mentioned in your CV, but rather use it to complement and add value to the other document.
For example, say you’ve had a 6-month gap in employment on your CV in the 5 years since you last worked on it. While it may have been intended or necessary, recruiters might see it as a red flag. Clear up any misunderstandings by using a sentence or two in your cover letter to explain exactly why that gap exists.
Also, use it to show some of your personality. Where a CV is all business and simply states the facts, you can get a bit more creative and colourful in your cover letter, within reason. Perhaps tell a story about why this particular not-for-profit interests you, or you could mention how their values perfectly align with your own.
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7. Mind your contact details
Updating your contact details often gets overlooked simply for being too obvious. But it’d be a shame to lose your dream opportunity simply for failing to update your phone number.
Check your phone number and email address, of course, but also check the hyperlink is correct if sent as a digital CV. Check social media links as well, and go through each public profile you own to ensure there’s no controversial material to be found. And, don’t forget to update your cover letter’s address while you’re at it.
It’s all about showcasing where you are now
Updating your CV doesn’t have to be a long and painful process. You’ve laid much of the groundwork for it the first time around, and a lot of this can be reused.
To give you the best chance of landing an interview, make sure your CV is relevant, unique and impactful. Remove all unnecessary entries and add numbered examples to prove how well you carried out your duties. Edit the layout and design to make it easy on the eyes and simple to scan.
If you follow these simple steps, you’re sure to have an up-to-date CV they won’t be able to help but consider!
Christian Eilers is a career and education writer with a focus on the topics of professional development, college entry, university life, and entrepreneurship. As the Content Lead for the Goodwall Blog, he covers subjects including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career advancement, fighting climate change, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Warsaw, Poland.