How to make your CV stand out

By Julie, Work It Out volunteer • 11 October 2022

In this blog, CV feedback volunteer Julie shows you how you can make your CV stand out from the crowd. 

The job market is competitive. One job posting can easily have more than 100 applicants, so it is really important to make sure your CV will stand out.

Here are 3 ways you can improve your chances of getting the interview.

Tailor your CV for each position you apply for

It is tempting to submit the same version of your CV to many different job postings, but that requires the CV reviewer to spend time thinking about how your experience aligns with the requirements for the role.

Make it easy for the CV reviewer to see why you’re the one for the job. Create a separate version of your CV based on the specific job requirements. Here are 3 recommendations on how to tailor each version:

  • Update your experience to include what is relevant for the role

Show that your prior experience is relevant for the job which you’re applying for even if you’re looking to change careers or try something new.

  • Mirror the key words used in the job posting

If the job requirement includes: “Responsible for ensuring that there is robust documentation on assigned projects” and your CV states “Created detailed notes outlining processes” change your experience to align “Ensured 100% process compliance by creating and maintaining robust documentation”

  • Only describe experience which is relevant for the role when you list all your jobs,  to ensure the reviewer is focused on the most important information

Detail the outcomes, not just your responsibilities

Focus on outcomes and results when detailing your experience. This gives the CV reviewer context into your experience and shows not only what you’ve been responsible for but the impact of your performance.

This example has no outcomes: Responsible for maintaining robust process documentation

This example is the same experience, but with outcomes: Increased on-time shipments from 80% to 91% by maintaining robust process documentation for the logistics team.

In both examples, we understand that you were responsible for maintaining documentation, but in the second example, you can see how the documentation helped improve the on-time shipments.

Make your CV easy to read

It sounds simple, but it makes a difference, especially when you consider the reviewer may be looking at many CVs each day.

  • Distinguish the sections of your CV visually, using Underline or Bold Underlined text
  • Detail the start and end dates for all entries in your Professional Experience and Education sections
  • List your Professional Experience in bullet points, not in paragraphs
  • Start each sentence with a past tense verb – you can use present tense if it’s your current position
  • Be consistent with your formatting
  • You don’t have to include a full stop at the end of a sentence in a bullet point, but if you do, ensure to include it on all lines
  • Ensure dates are a consistent format and all include both month and year
  • Don’t include a “Skills” section if you can’t show that you have the skills in your Professional Experience section

Once you have a well formatted version of your CV which is easy to read, you can use that as a template to create your tailored CV for each role with which you apply. You don’t need to start from scratch, you just need to fine tune your template with each revision.

Our Work It Out service offers free CV feedback for women aged 18 to 30 living in England and Wales. Send your CV and your will receive personalised feedback from HR professionals.   

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