How to update your CV: a complete guide with helpful steps
Updated 2 May 2023
An employee holds a magnifying glass and looks at a CV, next to a list with the title, "How to update your CV" and a list of these steps:
Do some research
Refresh your CV summary or objective
Remove outdated information
Focus on achievements
Check your contact information
Proofread before sending
Whether you're actively seeking new employment or you're content within your current organisation, it's good practice to keep your CV regularly updated. As you progress within your career, you may gain valuable new skills, experiences and qualities that may reflect on your CV. Periodically reviewing your CV to showcase your most recent achievements and remove outdated information is a great habit to adopt. In this article, we explain how to update your cv and why it's so important.
How to update your CV
Follow the steps below to learn how to update your CV:
1. Do some research
Large companies that receive many applications at a time now often make use of applicant tracking systems to scan CVs for particular keywords. To ensure that you've optimised your CV properly for your desired job role, it can be useful to do some research. Read through advertisements and job descriptions for the position you want and highlight common keywords that you can incorporate into your CV. Check out company websites and professional networking sites and make a note of the skills, qualifications and values that are important in your chosen career.
2. Refresh your CV summary or objective
A CV summary provides the reader with a brief overview of the key skills and experiences that make you a great candidate. Make sure that your summary reflects your most recent and relevant qualities. If they appear outdated, then incorporate new skills and experiences you have gained. Make your summary eye-catching by including your most impressive accomplishment and keep it to only one or two sentences in length.
An objective statement explains the goals that you would like to accomplish in your career. As you progress in your career, your objective statement may no longer be relevant, and a CV summary might be better suited. Typically, objectives are best suited for applicants with limited work experience or recent graduates.
3. Remove outdated information
As a general rule, you can remove an old piece of information each time you add a new piece of information to your CV. Remove old jobs that hold no relevance to your target position to free up space for information that's more pertinent to your career aspirations. As you progress further in your career, you might consider removing your high school achievements and only listing your degree-level qualifications. This can make space for you to highlight more professional accomplishments that may be more impressive to recruiters.
4. Focus on achievements
While it's good to provide a summary of your duties, so recruiters understand the day-to-day tasks you're experienced in handling, it can be better to focus on highlighting your relevant achievements. With so many candidates capable of carrying out the same range of duties, recruiters want to know what additional value you can bring to the role. Impress potential employees by describing the impact you had on your previous organisation.
When listing your achievements, try to quantify them by providing concrete facts and figures. For example, if you helped to streamline a process within the workplace, provide the percentage increase in efficiency or the amount of money you saved the company. If your professional experience is limited or you're a recent graduate, you can highlight your academic achievements instead. Consider any awards you received, a high-grade average or a scholarship you received. These are all impressive accomplishments that could impress potential employers.
5. Check your contact information
Don't forget to make sure that your contact information is up to date each time you refresh your CV. If you have recently moved, make sure your current address is listed and ensure that telephone numbers are correct. It's also worth considering whether your email address is suitable for professional communications. If you're using an old email address that may be deemed unprofessional, setting up a separate email address specifically for your job search could be beneficial.
6. Proofread before sending
Once you've finished making any changes to your CV, it's important that you check it for any errors. Be mindful of your spelling and grammar. Simple mistakes such as these may give off the wrong impression to recruiters.
Taking the time to proofread and present a flawless CV shows that you have a keen attention to detail, a trait that almost all employers value. It can be useful to ask a friend or relative to read over your CV for you, a fresh pair of eyes may spot errors you have missed, and they can also review the tone and content at the same time.
Why it's important to keep your CV updated
Many people only refresh their CV when there is an upcoming application deadline, but leaving your updates until the last minute may impact the quality of your CV. It's not uncommon when rushing to complete an application to simply add your most recent job role near the top of the page and forget to include the fantastic achievements that have built up during your career. By taking the time to update your CV carefully and on a regular basis, you can benefit from the following:
You can ensure your CV is always ready for submission and respond quickly to unanticipated job opportunities.
You can identify any gaps in your skills or experience that you need to develop.
You're prepared if you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed.
You can speculatively upload your CV to recruiting databases.
You can easily keep track of key accomplishments as you achieve them.
Related: The Importance of Upskilling
When to update your CV
If you're happy in your current employment, then it's recommended that you update your CV at least twice a year while recent achievements are fresh in your memory. If you're currently job searching, then it's important to keep your CV as current as possible by updating it as regularly as you can. If anything occurs that could present you as a more competitive candidate to prospective employers, it's time to update your CV. Here are some indicators that it's time to give your CV an update:
There have been important updates in your career
If anything changes in your current job role, assess whether that change could add value to your CV. If the change could make you a more desirable candidate in the eyes of an employer, then you can add it to your CV. Examples of career updates that you could include on your CV include:
receiving a promotion
taking on new responsibilities
attaining a new license, certification or degree
completing a large project
achieving a large goal or objective
learning a new professional skill
Related: What to include in your CV
When information becomes out of date
If you have been with the same company for a number of years and have not been regularly updating your CV, the chances are some of the information you have listed is now out of date. A good CV only contains the most recent and relevant information relating to your career. Check the following sections of your CV for out-of-date information that is no longer relevant to your career progression:
early academic achievements
jobs that you held early in your career
clubs or organisations you joined in school
If you don't hear back from potential employers
If you have been actively applying for a new position but haven't received much response, it may indicate that your CV needs a refresh. Recruiters often receive many CVs for just one position, so you need to ensure that yours stands out from other applicants. Take some time to review your current CV from the perspective of an employer and ask yourself whether it conveys you as the most suitable applicant for the role. Other aspects of your CV that you may consider updating include:
The design: Ensure that the template you use for your CV is both clean and modern. Use a simple font and ensure the format is easy to read.
The wording: Make sure your CV is engaging for the reader, incorporate action verbs to sound more compelling to potential employers.
The length: Recruiters can often scan through CVs, picking out key pieces of information. Ensure your CV is not too long, keep it to no more than two pages in length and avoid long paragraphs by making use of bullet points where appropriate.
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