How to write a standout CV
Your CV hopefully portrays an accurate, detailed and relevant insight into your work life to date. It should also demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and experience to apply for this job.
This is a great starting point.
However, don’t think you’re alone in applying for this job. You could potentially be competing against hundreds or even thousands of equally qualified candidates. You don’t get a chance to wow the recruiters at this stage with your dazzling wit and personality, so for now, your CV has to do the talking (or shouting) for you.
Follow our top five tips on how to write a stand-out CV and ensure it keeps on moving up the pile, to get you to the next stage.
Keywords are essential in your CV to show recruiters and hiring manager that you’re the top talent they need.
To make sure you’re using the appropriate keywords, skim through the job description identifying frequently mentioned industry terms, acronyms and any key requirements for the role.
Liberally scatter the keywords throughout your CV, but keep it natural. You need to ensure that your CV is not just relevant, but easily digestible too.
2. Make it readable
No one wants to come face to face with a wall of text, so break your CV down into bite-size chunks. When you’re confined to two pages of A4 and space is a premium, now is not the time to be as verbose as possible. Succinctness is the key here:
- Use short, pithy sentences where possible.
- Use bullet points where you can.
- Ensure it is formatted in the current CV fashion.
- Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.
3. Make your personal statement work for you
Don’t assume someone will wade through your CV to find the information they require. If recruiters have a pile of CVs to get through, and yours doesn’t immediately highlight that you’re suitable for this role, they will move your CV to the discard pile. So, make sure you include your most pertinent points upfront.
Emphasise your key skills and your relevant work experience in the opening paragraph. Keep each sentence short and to-the-point. If necessary, you can go into more details in that specific work experience section later.
4. Show don’t tell
- If you increased profits, say by how much.
- If you brought in new clients, say how many.
- If you boost sales, say what percentage.
Recruiters want to know what value you will bring to their company. Show them what benefit you added to your previous company so that they know, at the very least, what you’re capable of.
5. Tailor your CV
One size will never fit all. If you want your CV to stand out from the crowd, it has to be relevant to the job you are applying for.
First, go through the job description with a fine tooth comb and pull out the keywords and phrases that they use. Then, repeat the keywords back to the recruiter throughout your CV. And lastly, highlight the required and desired skills the recruiter calls for and match each one with a relevant example from your work history.
Be as specific as you can. You want the recruiter to get that you’re not just qualified, but that you’re keen to do this job and that you have taken the time to demonstrate that you’re the ideal candidate for them too.
Finally, never send out hundreds of generic CVs hoping that one will be accurate; you won’t get the job you want. It’s blindingly obvious to anyone reading it that you haven’t answered the job description, and it might even work against you, as you could be highlighted as a time waster.