How to write a standout CV

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Your CV is the very first impression you make on your employer – getting it right is of paramount importance when job hunting.

While every CV is different, here are our top tips on how to make yours stand out from the crowd:

1. Formatting is key
  • Pick your font wisely – something professional and clear to read is always best
  • Emphasise key info by making it bold or italic. Just make sure you are consistent with it, e.g. all subheadings are bold
  • Don’t write Curriculum Vitae at the top. It takes up valuable space and is redundant
2. Plan the page well
  • The top of the first page is the CV hotspot – this is where the most important and relevant info to the job should go
  • Depending on the role and your experience, decide whether you want to put work experience, skill set, or education first
  • Balance text and white space so it looks neither too busy nor too blank
3. Write it with the employer’s needs and job description in mind
  • Make sure it will grab the attention of someone sifting through CVs
  • 50% of applicants are unqualified for the job – demonstrate how and why you’re the right fit
  • Emphasise your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications according to what they’re looking for
4. Don’t lie
  • It will become very apparent if you reach the interview stage based off an untruthful or exaggerated CV – you’re only wasting your own time
5. Avoid pointless jargon
  • Your CV should speak for itself – there’s no need to add industry jargon unnecessarily
  • Use clear and concise language
6. Show it, don’t say it
  • Where possible, show your achievements and back up your statements with figures, data or links to online work/social media
7. Always get someone to proofread it
  • Using online spellcheck and grammar tools can save you from embarrassing accidental typos
  • What’s clear to you might not be obvious to a third-party –ask someone to proofread it to make sure you get your point across
8. Make sure your CV and cover letter are aligned
  • A good practice is writing your cover letter first, and then breaking down the main points as bullet points in your CV’s work experience section
9. Don’t include irrelevant details
  • Your age, date of birth and marital status doesn’t affect your ability to do your job and it’s illegal for employers to ask about them under the Equality Act
  • In the UK it’s not common practice to include a headshot on your CV
10. Update your LinkedIn
  • While not technically part of your CV, it’s highly likely a recruiter will also look you up on LinkedIn
  • As well as an updated work experience section, having a photo, skill endorsements, recommendations, and interests, etc all help build an image of you in the recruiter’s mind