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Condensing your lengthy CV

By Gemma Raw

​Over the years, we’ve provided plenty of CV writing advice – whether it’s guidance on how best to write your personal profile, tips to include on your AMHP CV or suggestions for you to highlight your MASH expertise. But how do you tread that fine line between giving enough information to sell your skills yet remaining as concise as possible?

Writing a great CV is a specific skill. Yes it’s the first opportunity you’ll have to introduce yourself to potential hiring managers, but it’s also a fact that they’ll have hundred’s of CV’s to read through in very little time. So how can you make sure that yours is quick and easy to read, whilst still remaining memorable? 

Consider it a positive challenge

It may seem a completely pain to cut down your CV as much as possible (after all, everyone wants to talk themselves up as much as they can), but try to view it in a positive way. Think about how long a recruiter has to scan a document; if they can pick up your key strengths at a glance, then you’ll be much more likely to be added to the ‘must interview’ list. 

To help you do this, think carefully about what your main strengths are and how these relate to the keywords stated within the job specification. The closer you can make your CV sound relevant to the job advert, the easier it will be to stay on track and to-the-point. 

Focus on your current experience

The easiest way to cut down any CV is to focus primarily upon your most recent experience. Obviously you want to provide a full breakdown of your working history, but is a description of a role you carried out fifteen years ago really relevant? If you’ve gathered much more relevant experience since then, or completed beneficial training programmes, then save your time and focus on what skills you have now which make you the perfect candidate for this particular job. 

To showcase your full working history, we would recommend simply listing dates and job roles for older roles. This will demonstrate your career path, and if the recruiter has any questions about these older roles, they can always ask you about them during the interview.

Are you listing your relevant experience?

We mentioned it briefly above, but always make sure that your CV is referencing the job specification. You may find that recruiters are using automated software to filter through CVs so if you spot any particular keywords/jargon listed within the description, make sure you reference them in your CV. 

It sounds simple, but its very easy to simply list all of your skills and experience regardless of whether they are relevant for the position you’re applying for. It may help to have a friend/family member read through your CV with a critical eye – ask them to question you on each skill and explain why it’s relevant for the job. If you can’t explain that skill in any depth, then it may be safe to remove it from your CV. 

Check your language

One of the easiest ways to inadvertently lengthen your CV is through your language choices. When describing your past experience, try to cut down your sentence length as much as possible. Avoid using filler words such as “so” “just” “really” which tend to lengthen sentences unnecessarily. 

We would also recommend avoiding cliched phrases such as “motivated” “hard worker” “extensive experience” “good team player” or “problem solver” - they are used so often that recruiters can’t really get an understanding of who you are. If you are going to use these phrases, then try to back them up with some examples of where you’ve worked effectively as part of a team, or where you’ve been able to use creative (or cost effective) solutions to solve a problem. But don’t forget, if you are giving examples – please make sure that they fit in with the job description and are relevant to the position. 

Once you’re happy with your CV, it’s time to submit it as part of your job application. You can browse the latest social work job roles – at Sanctuary we have a variety of positions for locum and permanent social workers available throughout the UK. 

Alternatively, if you think you need a little support and guidance in writing your CV, then why not speak to one of our consultants? They’ll be happy to help you make the most of your CV to help you get that dream job role!