SEO and the new CV standards
Given recruiters’ reliance on CV databases, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critical element of the modern CV, as well as any online profiles.
While LinkedIn and some job boards have fields for inserting key skills, such as software packages, programming languages, database specialities or app development triumphs, the traditional CV is bound by conventions that make keyword cramming more difficult.
Opinions vary, but most experts suggest creating a separate list of key skills rather than trying to shoehorn keywords in densely. “We’d recommend a key skills section as the second section, underneath the CV’s professional summary,” says Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors. “The idea is that since they’re the second section on the CV, it ties in with the way databases work.”
The keywords should then be used within the CV in natural language. You can check to make sure your CV’s SEO is working by using the CV uploader in LinkedIn.
Old vs new
While it might be tempting to use formats such as Prezi or Adobe to create your CV, the most popular upload format remains Word, simply because it’s easily readable.
Although a PDF means the document will always appear as intended, the format is unpopular with recruiters, who want to take contact details off the CV so that the employer doesn’t contact the applicant directly and cut them out of the loop.
There are other differences between writing a searchable CV and traditional norms, including the voice used.
“With CVs, you’re always taught to write in active tense – ‘I managed a team of ten’, rather than ‘management of a team of ten’, which is passive,” says Craven.
“However, if I’m looking for someone with management skills, I’m not going to type in ‘managed’, I’m going to type in ‘management’. So, when you’re writing a key skills section, you should write in a passive tense,” he says.
It’s considered a faux pas to include a personal photo in Word CVs, but they should be included in LinkedIn profiles. Online profiles should be written in the first person, while CV convention dictates third-person prose.
Avoid the CV uploader or copy and pasting on LinkedIn, since it looks lazy; instead, rewrite the information in a more casual voice.