Why now is the best time to update your resume

The fourth quarter of the year is typically the busiest time for recruiters as they accelerate hiring plans for 2024

Having a relevant, up-to-date CV is essential if you want to stand out against other applicants. Getty Images
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As many of us return to work after the summer break, hiring managers and human resources departments will be looking at their hiring plans for the rest of this year and into 2024. So, it’s a great time to be looking for new opportunities.

The fourth quarter is typically the busiest time of the year for recruiting, so having an up-to-date curriculum vitae is vital for those who are looking to change jobs.

After 16 years of living in the UAE, one thing that I have noticed in this part of the world is the sheer volume of responses to job ads online.

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

This is problematic for employers as it means a lot of work to filter through many CVs (much of which have little or no relevance to the role) and presents a challenge to the jobseeker in terms of the amount of competition.

I have seen more than 10 times the number of responses for a role in the GCC than you would expect to see from the same job posting in Europe, for example.

Having a relevant, up-to-date CV is essential if you want to stand out against other applicants and there are a few practical steps you can take to get you closer to being shortlisted.

Cover letter

Having a brief cover letter is highly recommended to summarise who you are and what you are looking for. One or two paragraphs should be enough for this purpose and offer you the opportunity to give a bit more insight about yourself that you may not want to add to the CV itself.

A generic cover letter should be OK for most roles, but you should amend or edit the closing part to be specific about the role you are applying for. For example, consider the below:

“With the skills and experience I have gained over the past 12+ years in the GCC with tech start-ups, I see XXX as a perfect environment and fit for my next career move and I would welcome the opportunity to learn more about the growth plans of the business.”

I would always recommend customising a CV to suit the job you are applying for. A full CV should never be more than two to three pages long (many prefer one page only) and should be easy to amend any key points.

If the job description mentions growth in North Africa, for example, and you once spent six months on a project in Morocco, then make sure you highlight that point.

If the employer is looking for someone who has worked in the government sector, then highlight some of the ministries you may have had dealings with where possible.

These may sound like obvious pointers, but you cannot cram every piece of work history into two pages, so reading the job description thoroughly and highlighting relevant points from your experience that can add value to the role will help your CV to stand out.

A strong cover letter statement is a great first impression, especially when a CV can be judged after just a few seconds of opening it. I still do this myself, but instead of dismissing a candidate straight away, I often advise them on how to improve their profile.

A hiring manager would highly likely not have the time or the motivation to do this, so you only get one shot at making the right impression. The opening statement should be brief, to the point and confident without being arrogant.

After the opening statement, a showcase of skills should be close to the top of the CV and be brief and to the point, for example:

  • 10+ years enterprise software sales
  • Six years of leadership and growth of sales teams
  • Eight years of Middle East experience (including three years living and working in Saudi Arabia)
  • Certified sales professional
  • Trained public speaker to 500+ attendees

A summary (not full list) of education and training should also be included, giving an overview of your expertise.

I have often seen this in far too much detail on a CV, where a candidate has listed every single exam they have taken (with grades achieved). This is far too much information and not necessary.

With work history (the most important part of a CV), after listing the company name, location and dates worked, you should briefly summarise the role in one to two sentences. Rather than just describing the role, bullet point some key achievements such as:

  • Grew revenue from $3 million to $5 million
  • Expanded team from three to nine in two and a half years
  • Opened two new GCC entities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar

If you have a specific project that you are proud of and it has relevance to the company you are applying to, summarise this within the relevant work history role.

Having some personal information at the bottom of the CV is a very important way to close off, highlighting any personal hobbies and interests such as sport, voluntary work or other extra-curricular activities.

The more information you can share here, the more likely you are to find some common ground with the hiring team, which helps to break the ice during an interview.

Before sending out your CV, read it, re-read it and edit it. Then get someone else’s opinion and check it again.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression and there are thousands of other jobseekers out there.

In summary, present a CV that’s interesting and easy to read that will grab the recruiter's attention, and ask a friend for their honest opinion before sending it.

John Armstrong is founder and managing director of JCA Associates

Updated: September 15, 2023, 5:00 AM