How to Make YOUR CV Stand Out From the Rest
1. Maximise Readability
Recruiters and hiring managers receive many CVs for each different vacancy they are recruiting for – so they don’t want to be reading through long wordy CVs just to find the relevant experience they are looking for. Therefore, it is essential that your CV is easy for the reader to scan quickly and effectively.
How to do this:
• Separate your CV into different sections and have clear section headings
• Put the relevant information under each heading for example list all work history together rather than listing your life chronologically and mixing education and employment
• Avoid long paragraphs – use bullet points where possible
• Make it eye catching and uncluttered
• Make sure there are not any spelling or grammar mistakes
2. Start with a Professional Profile and Objective
This section can give you an opportunity to sell yourself in a paragraph. You should summarise and emphasise your key attributes and your intended career path. This section should be kept short and sweet, yet punchy so it grabs the reader’s attention. We would recommend that you keep this section to less than 10 lines as any more and you’ll risk losing the reader’s attention.
Remember to be short but punchy and persuasive.
Avoid using cliché words such as ‘reliable’ or ‘team player’. Everyone uses these and each time there’s a different meaning or behind it. Try and explain what you mean by the words you use to describe yourself, why you describe yourself that way and give an example where possible.
3. Include Achievements Where Possible
An achievements section can make such a big difference to the power your CV has – this could possibly help to distinguish yourself from other candidates. This section could be added underneath your profile to highlight your ‘Key Achievements’ or even attached to each particular job or hobby. You should utilise this space and highlight where you have excelled. Think of your CV as a ‘brag sheet’ and include what you can. Also, include how you plan to attain these results in the future.
For example, those in sales roles should include figures and percentages. Show off what you were able to achieve in that particular role or year.
But – definitely avoid lying! Do not try and make up achievements to make your CV look better. Recruiters or hiring managers will pick up on these achievements and could question you about them. If they don’t exist you will struggle to pretend they do.
4. Keep Your CV Concise and To The Point
Your CV is the only tool you have at the beginning to sell yourself with. So it should be as informative as possible, whilst being concise and to the point. Also, only relevant information needs to be included. In general your CV should be two A4 pages in length at its maximum.
5. Tailor your CV
It is recommended that your CV is tailored to each vacancy you apply for. This doesn’t mean a complete rewrite each time you apply for a job – it just needs to be tweaked in order for the relevant points to stand out more.
Personal Profile – emphasise the experience you have that matches the vacancy.
Previous Employment – pick out the responsibilities and experience that is relevant to the vacancy you are applying to.
Hobbies and Interests – make sure to include hobbies or interests that could help you. For example – a CV for a managerial position could include a team sport, a designer vacancy CV could be tailored to include certain designers you admire or exhibitions that you’ve been to, etc.
6. Explain the gaps and try to include reasons for leaving
This is especially true for either long period of unemployment, or short periods of employment. If an employer or recruiter sees gaps or unstable recruitment, it is likely that you will be added to the ‘NO’ pile.
Where possible, include brief explanations and what you did during this time. For more read our “How to Explain Gaps in Your CV” blog.
7. Include a cover letter
This is a great way to introduce yourself to a potential future employer or recruitment agency – use it to summarise your CV and tailor it to show how your experience, education, and/or hobbies could benefit their company and why you would be a good fit for them. Make sure to include which job it is you’re applying for and why you are the right person for the job. But keep it professional – these steps can stop you from just being another applicant in the pile.