Whether it’s a new role or a completely different career path writing a good CV is the first step to making that dream a reality.
But relevant job experience or criteria aside, How do you make your CV stand out?
A prospective employer may have double-digit applications for a new position. Only a handful of those will make it to the interview stages. How do you ensure you’re one of the handful?
The good news is resume writing is a skill set that can be learnt. These 7 pointers will walk you through how I screen potential interview candidates for a new job.
1) Make Sure Your CV Has Good Presentation
Make sure the presentation of your CV is good. Don’t just type a word document with information about yourself or list skills.
There are numerous blank CV and free CV templates online so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Take some time to make sure your CV is well presented, formatted and visually appealing before I even get to read it.
Make a good first impression and make sure on a table of candidate’s CVs yours is the one that looks interesting and makes me want to pick it up first.
2) Make Sure Your Spelling And Grammar Are Correct On Your CV
Check. Your. Spelling. And. Grammar.
Poor spelling and grammar on a CV is a cardinal sin for me.
You may be appalling at spelling and grammar in real life, and it may be completely irrelevant for the role, but this is the one document you get to impress me and get your best foot in the door.
If you haven’t even ran a spell check on your CV, that’s sloppy. This is your best work!
If it’s littered with mistakes that’s an instant rejection from me. I want the best on my team, and for my customers.
Don’t tell me you have excellent communication skills when I’m reading your poorly written communication.
Spell check, and then get a friend or family member to read over your CV and pick out any faults before you send it in.
3) Don’t Forget The Cover Letter
Always include a cover letter.
Your cover letter is the chance to inject a bit of personality into the dry CV format.
I’m looking for passion. What attracts you to this role? What can you bring to the role? Is this your dream job?
A good cover letter gives you a greater chance of getting into the yes pile and that all important interview stage.
This is extra important if your work experience is limited as it’s your chance to tell me why I should choose you.
Your CV will include your employment history and a skills section, but in your cover letter, you can dive deeper into your past responsibilities and any relevant information that would make you a good fit for the role.
A strong cover letter can keep a borderline CV out of the no pile.
4) Add Something To Make You Stand Out
You always need to be looking for ways to stand out on a CV.
Don’t just include work. Yes, work history is important, but everyone has one.
Tell me something about you that makes you different.
A personal statement is a great place to show me you’re the best choice.
What are your hobbies and passions? Have you travelled? Have you done voluntary work? Have you entered an event to run a really long distance?
I’m looking for someone with a personality who has something to bring to the business. It doesn’t need to take up much space, a couple of bullet points will do.
If your life is work, Netflix, sleep repeat then I’m going to question if you’re the right fit for my vibrant, high energy team.
5) Consider Including A Photo
Including a photo at the top of your CV is controversial.
Some feel it makes the CV more personal, others think it encourages discrimination.
I think largely it’s not needed or expected.
If you are applying for a customer-facing role then including a smiling welcoming photo would probably make me view you more favourably.
If you’re not confident or comfortable including a photo then leave it off. A good photo might help a little, but a bad one is going to do more damage.
If you are going to include a photo think simple and professional. A smiling headshot in smart dress with a white background is ideal. The following are absolutely never a good idea:
- Multiple people in the photo. Who are you? Unless the photo is you and your identical twin this a bad idea
- Cropping yourself out of a photo with friends. Unless you’ve got some photoshop skills this just looks clumsy and unprofessional
- Full body shots. Unnecessary, they look a bit odd and may work against you because of it.
- Quirky poses. Save it for your insta page. I’m looking for a solid employee, not a new bestie
- Bad quality photos. If its blurry, dark, grainy etc just leave it off.
6) Tailor Your CV
Make sure your CV is tailored to the specific job titles you’re applying to.
This is vital if you’re applying to different types of roles, but even if you have a very specific job niche its good practice.
Look at the job description for inspiration and tweak as needed.
Are they looking for someone highly motivated? Make sure to emphasise examples on your CV where this is demonstrated.
Does the role prioritise hard skills or soft skills? Can you include examples of project management?
This is vital if you are applying for a new career or to a new industry. Your potential employer may be looking at CVs from candidates with previous experience in this particular field.
Why should they choose you instead? What makes you the ideal candidate. Don’t assume I know you have a long list of transferable skills.
This shouldn’t take you much time, even if you are applying for various positions. If you’re sending out standard CV’s for every job the vast majority will fall flat. There is no one CV thats perfect for any job.
7) Don’t Neglect The Basics
Although you want to stand out and be different there are certain areas of the CV you don’t want to ignore:
- The best way to organise your education section and career history is in chronological order.
- Check your personal details and contact details are up to date.
- Critically appraise your contact information. Is your email address appropriate or do you need a new one for your job search?
- Consider adding a LinkedIn profile link, and checking your other social media platforms.
- Emphasise any key achievements, professional experience and additional relevant experience.
Those are my top tips for making your CV stand out from the crowd. Have a look through your old resume, do you need to make minor changes or a complete overhaul? It’s time to turn your resume from a functional CV to a perfect fit. What will you change today?
Leave a comment below if there’s anything you think I’ve missed off