Tuesday 8 January 2019 11:36 am

The modern CV has evolved over the past 500 years – perfect the format for the January job hunt

Follow Charlotte Carter

This is the time of year when we all start to evaluate our life choices. Relationships, property, fitness regimes and jobs all come under serious scrutiny as we prioritise our new year’s resolutions and look to improve our outlook.

One of the most common phrases that you will hear at this time is “new year, new career” – which is easy to say, but not that easy to do. However, with motivation at its peak after an extended break, many people will be ready and raring to get themselves organised and jump on the work wagon.

Today, a good resume is a must-have ahead of any interview. But the first recorded CV was produced by Leonardo da Vinci in 1482.

Leo listed his main talents as rock-flinging and building bridges, proving that core skills are very much relative to the job at hand.

From there, the CV evolved through the ages. In the 1500s, travelling workers used them to introduce themselves to the lord of the manor, while in the 1700s, portraitists (who were quite a big deal back then) used them to highlight the famous faces that they had sketched, rather than lug their heavy paintings around with them.

By the 1950s, CVs had become more formalised and generally included more personal information, such as marital status and even, in some cases, weight. It was throughout the 60s and 70s that the trend for CVs really took off. More personal flair was added, as people started to include their hobbies and interests outside of work. With the introduction of the first commercially sold word processor in 1979, CVs became more consistent, as jobseekers followed a structured template.

As access to home computers became increasingly common in the 80s, employers came to expect to receive CVs as part of the formal application process. However, even with this new technology, CVs themselves remained pretty boring until the invention of the internet in the mid 90s. Access to images and the emergence of clip-art led to new ways of making documents more eye-catching.

So began a period of sending ever more flamboyant CVs in the hope of standing out from the crowd.

During the noughties, the internet continued to change the way in which both employers and perspective employees viewed CVs. The introduction of LinkedIn helped to bring resumes online, ensuring that they reached a wider and more diverse audience, and with the launch of YouTube came the emergence of video CVs, which remain commonplace today.

Throughout this evolution of the CV – from the word-processed monologues of the 80s, through the jazzy offerings of the 90s and the technologically advanced submissions of the 2000s – employers have only ever been interested in one thing: do you have the necessary skills for the job?

Make sure that you do your research and include all of the skills you possess that might be relevant to any position you apply for. Think about how you present this. Being the captain of your university sports team may not seem relevant to a career in marketing, for example, but effective communication, leadership, and great teamwork skills are all in high demand from employers in that sector. Similarly, early experience of working in retail, which many of us have, showcases the ability to deal with difficult customers. Perfect for a career as a police officer.

Above all, be confident in your abilities. Everyone brings with them a wealth of diverse experiences, skills, and ways of thinking – all of which organisations need to provide a good service to their customers.

Increasingly, good employers are placing more value on skills outside of academic qualifications, and it’s important that you allow your true self to shine through with your CV. It’s taken 500 years to get here, but this is your chance to perfect the format.