How to Write a Stand-Out CV

Interview of young businesswoman.

Your CV is your introduction to potential employers, making it one of your most important professional documents (alongside your cover letter). As a sharply written CV is essential for getting job interviews, it’s not something you want to rush while putting together. Regardless of your level of experience, reviewing and refreshing your CV correctly will help you prepare for a job search and make a good impression.

We’ll show you how to write a CV that gets employers’ attention and gives you a better chance of landing the job you want, here.

 

Begin with the Basics

An example of a good CV has up-to-date information, is easy to read, and is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Although that sounds simple, you’d be surprised how many good candidates can be let down by these simple errors.

Make sure your CV clearly states where you’re currently working, or other commitments you currently have, as well as your previous roles. The best way to keep your CV current is to update it every time you start a new role, get promoted, or take on new responsibilities, which is much easier than trying to remember these details months or years afterwards!

The most readable format for a CV is one that has headings and subheadings for each role, start and end dates, the job title, your responsibilities and the projects you worked on.

Using correct spelling, grammar and structure will demonstrate your attention to detail, so don’t forget to give the document a thorough proofread before you submit it for job applications. We also recommend you have a friend (or your recruiter) check your resume, so they can spot any mistakes you’ve missed.

 

Keep it Orderly and Concise

Recruiters and hiring managers can receive hundreds of CVs for each job they advertise, so it’s important to keep in mind that any resume without a clear structure is more likely to get tossed into the reject pile.

The key is to avoid being too wordy – you don’t need to write a 10-page biography. Keep your CV to a maximum of 2-3 pages and use bullet points instead of long paragraphs. Writing with shorter sentences will help you cut out the fluff, give your CV strength and clarity, and grab the attention of anyone who might be skim-reading it.

To make your career history and progression easy for interviewers to understand, always list your work experience and qualifications in reverse chronological order and include the months and years when you started and finished in each role. If you have any gaps in your work history, ensure you explain them (e.g. study, travel, parental leave) so you don’t leave hiring managers with any questions.

 

Differentiate with Achievements

An essential piece of resume advice is to focus on your accomplishments, rather than your responsibilities. Instead of writing something like, ‘I managed a project for a large commercial client’, you could write, ‘managed the XYZ Project with a team of 80 contractors, which was delivered on time and under budget’. Or, instead of, ‘I was responsible for managing a company-wide financial audit’, write ‘I successfully managed a major audit, which resulted in the company adopting my recommendations’.

Also, using active instead of passive voice when describing your work history will bring your CV to life. Choose action words such as ‘managed’, ‘created’, ‘developed’, ‘established’, and ‘initiated’, as these will give your sentences more impact.

Additionally, beware of any clichés and buzzwords that might be lurking within your CV. Examples of phrases that job applicants have overused to death include ‘motivated’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘team player’, ‘punctual’, ‘loyal’, ‘energetic’, ‘customer-focused’, and ‘a people person’. Using these won’t automatically make you sound unique or competent. But, if you take the steps mentioned above to elaborate on your accomplishments, you won’t need to use buzzwords – your abilities will speak for themselves.

 

Tailor Your CV to Each Role

Another key CV tip we give to candidates is to tailor the document for each job application. Some elements of your CV might not be relevant for every position you’re interested in, so it’s best to leave out any experience and qualifications that aren’t connected to the role you’re applying for.

However, we’re not advising that you write your whole CV from scratch for each job application. It’s just a matter of tweaking some sentences to show hiring managers a clear connection between your experience and the skills they’re looking for. Look carefully at the job ad to see what keywords and phrases you need to highlight within your CV, so you can work these into the document where appropriate.

Also, avoid any temptation to rehash the job description in your CV – this will come off as too obvious. Instead, make your most relevant achievements as prominent as you can, using keywords that highlight the relevant skills the employer is looking for.

 

Summary

Creating a first-class resume requires some effort, but the payoff is worth it. Now that you’ve got the lowdown on how to write a great one, we have more ways to make your job search easier – check out our sample CV template here. If you need help with fine-tuning your CV and landing your next role, get in touch with our team to find out how we can assist with your career journey.

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