9 Simple Tips to Make Your CV Stand Out

Putting together an appealing CV is a critical step in your quest to secure the right job.
Research suggests that the average recruiter takes just seven seconds to decide whether a candidate could be a potential contender for a role based on the quality of their CV.

So, it’s crucial to take the time to compile a CV that’s a true reflection of your professional history, qualifications, academic achievements and character to encourage the hiring person to want to know more about you.

Here are nine easy steps to ensure your CV stands out for all the right reasons.

1. Tailor it to the role

Before sending off an application, candidates should ensure their CV matches the job advert. It can be tempting to create one basic, generic document and send it out to multiple employers, but it’s unlikely this strategy will stimulate the best response

Pulling out the key skills, traits and requirements from a job description and using them to customise your CV for that specific role or industry is an easy way to make sure you demonstrate your suitability for the position. It might take a little longer, but the results will be worth it.

2. Include keywords

Recruiters often have to sift through hundreds of applications for one open position. So, many employers now use digital software such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) to refine selections and form initial shortlists.

As such, it’s crucial to make sure your CV is ATS-friendly by identifying and including keywords and phrases from a job description and relevant industry. For example, if you’re applying for a job in customer service, you’ll probably use words such as ‘communication’, ‘attention to detail’ and ‘problem-solving’.

3. Ensure it’s up to date

It can be challenging to keep track of all your achievements over the years, so it’s wise to update your CV regularly. Keeping a record of how your job role evolves is a great place to start. Some successes might seem insignificant at the time, but you never know what might provide the perfect example for a future job application or interview.

4. Keep it concise

A long-winded CV is guaranteed to prevent an employer from paying attention to your application. Of course, you want to include examples of your work experience and suitability for the role in question, but remember: less is more.

Ideally, your CV should be no more than two sides of A4 and be quick and easy to read. That means conveying your relevant experience in the most concise language possible. By doing so, you’ll attract and sustain the reader’s attention and demonstrate your ability to get your point across effectively.

5. Check for typos

You’d be surprised how many people forget to double-check their CVs for typos; from missing punctuation to misspelling company names, there’s no faster way to send your application to the ‘no’ pile.

Don’t lose out on an opportunity because of an easily avoidable mistake. Demonstrate your attention to detail by carefully proofreading every CV one last time before sending it off. You could even ask a friend or recruitment professional to review it and ensure you’ve not missed anything.

6. Highlight soft skills

In today’s job market, soft skills are often considered just as important as core or role-specific skills. Soft skills, or transferable skills, are the non-technical interpersonal strengths you develop throughout your life that can equip you to work well in various environments.

Such skills include communication, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, time management, organisation and teamwork. It’s always good to provide some context alongside these attributes to show how they would be a strength in a prospective role or prove something about your personality.

7. Consider the layout

Although it can be a struggle to fit everything into just a page or two, don’t be tempted to cram every inch of the page with information. Text that’s too small or crowded can be hard to read, and a hiring manager won’t want to spend time deciphering it.

Ensure your format is consistent and that you present information in clear sections. So long as your CV includes your name and contact details, a short personal bio, a list of relevant work or voluntary experience, your qualifications and perhaps a little about your hobbies and interests, a recruiter should have everything they need.

8. Emphasise measurable results

Highlighting where you’ve added value to a company as part of your work is the best way to use your CV to stand out from the competition. Applicants should avoid vague or generic descriptions of core responsibilities and alternatively feature more measurable achievements.

For example, instead of simply stating that you increased sales in your current role, you can include that you improved sales by 80% during a campaign that you organised. Backing up your claims with numbers and facts like this is an excellent way to impress hiring managers and increase your chances of success.

9. Be honest

Finally, remember to be yourself. Many people feel the need to lie on their CV to seem more impressive or qualified, but this can do more harm than good. Hiring managers can catch you out at a later stage of the interview process, and you could also end up in a role that wasn’t suitable for you in the first place.

There’s no need to fabricate qualifications or experiences that you don’t have; with the proper support, you can tailor your CV to allow your skills and enthusiasm to shine through. After all, employers are looking for more than certificates and references. They’re searching for the right personality to fit into their team and make a difference.

For more CV tips and job market advice, contact our Farnham-based recruitment specialists at 01252 727887 or email info@ontrackrecruitment.co.uk.