CV Writing Tips

How to make your CV stand out from the crowd

Your CV is your number one tool to progress your career to the next level, it is your one chance to sell yourself, your skills and experience to a potential employer.

1) Make it clear and readable

It is essential for your CV to be easy for the reader to scan quickly and effectively. You need to separate different sections and insert clear section headings. Avoid long paragraphs; use bullet points to break up text into more manageable ‘bite-size’ chunks. It should be eye-catching and uncluttered. Check vigilantly for spelling and grammatical errors.

2) Include a Professional Profile and Objective

These sections should summarise and emphasise your key attributes and your intended future career path. Your words must flow seamlessly – avoiding cliché and superfluous hyperbole. They should each only be a few lines in length but they must spark the reader’s interest. If you can’t successfully ‘pitch’ yourself in under ten lines then you risk losing the reader’s attention. Be brief – you can highlight examples in later sections. But be persuasive.

3) Include achievements/awards/qualifications where possible

If you can include an "achievements" section then it can make an instant and dramatic difference to the power of your CV, enabling you to distinguish yourself from other candidates. This is no time for false modesty. Utilise the space allocated to highlight where you have excelled – and how you plan to attain similar results on future endeavours.

4) Use facts and figures

Everybody loves statistics, even the people scouring CVs, so include some facts and figures. What was the project worth? How much did you or your team contribute? These are tangible metrics that back up your achievements and your value so use them wisely.

5) Keep your CV concise and to-the-point

Your CV should be informative – but also concise. In general, two A4 pages is a maximum. Too many CVs are quite simply too long. Only include information which will actually help to sell you. Recruiters don’t want to waste time reading details irrelevant to your ability to fulfill the job role.

6) Tailor your CV for a specific role or employer

If possible, tailor your CV according to the specific vacancy for which you are applying. Whilst many people use a general CV designed to suit any position they are applying for, greater success can always be achieved by tailoring your CV according to the needs of the specific role to which you are applying. It stands to reason that every job and every organisation are different, and every CV should therefore also be subtly different.

7) Include keywords

Recruiters will most likely find your CV/Resume via a keyword search, so ensure that you use the industry standard job title that is most appropriate to you. Any industry, sector or project names should also be included. If possible, also include all geographical locations you have lived and worked in also with country, region and city information. These are all things you can do to send your CV to the top of the pile.

8) Ensure that your CV is in Microsoft Word .doc or .docx format

This is the industry standard and will ensure a greater open rate from potential employers. There is nothing worse than having to download a large PDF file that contains lots of photos; potential employers are not interested in these and the slower download times will mean they look elsewhere without opening the CV.