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Is Your CV Good Enough?
Top Tips to Stand Out from the Crowd

  1.   22nd July 2021
  2. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes read

Similar to first impressions, most employers decide whether a CV is worth further consideration in around 30 seconds – layout, bad grammar, typos, corny lines and obvious exaggerations are just some of reasons that contribute towards applicants not being offered an interview.

So, how do you craft the perfect CV?
Here’s our top tips to get your foot in the door:

1.  Specific & Relevant Content is Key

Whilst the visual aspect of your CV is important, it’s the content that’s king – all style, no substance will get you nowhere! Always ensure that the experience you’re showcasing is relevant to the job you’re applying for, as this is one area where the “one size fits all” approach won’t work.

Don’t be afraid to delete experience if it’s not relevant to the role – nobody needs to read a full paragraph about a job you had 20 years ago, unless it was your last role! People talk about the traditional two-page limit, but it does depend on the sector and the seniority you’re going for, but broadly speaking, if you can keep it to two pages, the employer is more likely to read it all.

Take note of some of the key words throughout the job description and work them into your CV – these will automatically jump out to the employer. By showing you understand the role you’re applying for and communicating both effectively and concisely that you have the experience and expertise they’re looking for, it will convey that it’s clear you’d be able to deliver in that position.

2. Don’t Be Sloppy, Be Consistent

As mentioned, the look of your CV is also important: content is key, but employers will judge you on sloppy style. Mistakes, whether in structure, layout or grammar, are not okay! There is no excuse for errors on your CV – use auto-correct and proofread once, twice and a third time for good measure, and then get another person to check it through after that.

To stand out even further, make it look polished and professional – ensure your headings, font and sizing are consistent, and think about adding a nice header. Microsoft Word has a lot of different templates you can use, so you don’t need to be a graphic designer or computer whizz to make it look the best it can.

3. Think About Your Language

 Avoid tired expressions and clichés such as “being a team player”, “loyal”, “passionate” and “hardworking” – they’ve seen them all a thousand times. And while it does depend on the type of job you do, use active descriptive words that mean something, like “accountable”, “achieve” and “purpose”. What did you achieve? What was the purpose of your role?

These are all questions that you may be asked in an interview anyway, so you may as well let them know upfront that you mean (good) business and could bring valuable experience to their company.

4. Second Opinion, Please

We Brits are known for our stiff upper lip, and to a degree it’s true – we often downplay our accomplishments thinking that it could come across as arrogant, so it can be hard to speak positively about yourself in an objective way.

That’s why we’d recommend showing your CV to someone you trust, ideally someone who has worked with you and knows your strengths, weaknesses and work ethic and ask them for honest feedback about what you’ve written – then take their comments on board!

5. Photo or No Photo?

Now this, this can be problematic. You’re essentially inviting recruiters and prospective employers to form a snap judgement based on your looks and style of picture, and opinions could vary wildly while also opening you up to potential bias and profiling – but it could be a positive if they think you would fit the culture of their business, which may put you at an advantage if your experience and skills are comparable to others.

In most instances however, it may be better to err on the side of caution: a traditional CV that simply highlights your key achievements that are relevant to the role is still the best way of securing a job, unless it’s a particularly creative or public sector.

6. Be the Best Version of Yourself

Corny, maybe, but true! This is your opportunity to shine – be relevant, be engaging, and put your best foot forward, showcasing all you have to offer prospective employers.

You don’t have to try too hard and you shouldn’t shy away from including some personal information about yourself either – think of it like you’re going on a first date. They want to know why they should commit to you, and you alone.

You can include your interesting hobbies and any experiences that may be relevant; that doesn’t mean you should ramble on about your pets or travel experiences, but do you enjoy playing on a team, or investing time into a particular hobby? Point out how that shows dedication. Is there a particular passion outside of work that you love? It could be that your employer enjoys it too!

Just make sure to avoid mentioning how much you may love going out and socialising – it’s not relevant and can come across like you may be a wild party animal!


If you’re still struggling for inspiration despite our top tips – though why would you be? – contact us today and we can help create the perfect CV for you that will help land your dream job!


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