Make your CV stand out from the crowd

by | 27.11.20

For some jobs at the moment employers are receiving in excess of 100 CVs, I have heard that some jobs are attracting 5,000+ applications. Finding a new job is tough, tedious and frustrating at the moment and employers are tasked with sorting through CVs in order to try to find the right candidate for their role. The secret to getting your CV noticed is to make sure that yours stands out and in todays market that is very tough. By following simple guidelines you can stand out from the crowd and hopefully as a result win yourself an interview. Here are some tips:

Divide your CV into clear sections

You may have far and away the best CV for the position you are applying for, however if your information isn’t easy to sort through it will be tossed aside. For this reason, organising information is incredibly important. Split your CV into clearly labelled sections so a potential employer will know exactly where to find the information they need. In addition to making it easier on the eye your CV will look organised, a skill most employers are looking for.

Choose the right font

Your CV’s font is incredibly important because it is the very first thing that a reader will notice. It sets the tone for the CV. Think about it, it is a professional document and it should look professional. Your CV needs to be easy to read, the font should not be to big or too small. Fancy fonts are attractive but not necessarily easy to read or professional. You want to stand out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

Include the right skills

The skill section may sound easy, you’re pretty much just making a list of things you’re able to do particularly well. Everyone knows what they’re good at but not everyone appreciates that skills should be categorised into ‘hard skills’ (typing, computer programming, data entry, accounting functions) and ‘soft skills’ ( communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, working to deadline). One of the biggest mistakes people make is failing to differentiate between these two skills sets and including too many of one or the other. Pay attention to the job you are applying for, read the job description carefully. If the job is technical weigh your skill section towards your applicable hard skills. If the role is something like customer service or sales make sure to include key soft skills like ‘communication’ or ‘organisation’. Your skill section is the best place to make sure the skills mentioned in the job description are highlighted if you have them.

A two-page CV is the way to go

A one-page CV is too short and more than two pages is too long. The optimum number of pages is two. Potential employers want to assess whether you are suitable for their job, they will not find that information in a CV which literally states the facts and doesn’t give any information about you or the experience you have. More than two pages and you are going to bore them to death. Keep it short but don’t leave out important facts and information.


Use a simple layout

The most liked layout by employers is a simple format. Obviously at the top of your CV you need your name, your contact details and your address. Next you should do a profile section giving the employer a brief overview or your experience, this should not take up more than 5-6 lines. This should be followed by a key skill section, remember there is a difference between hard and soft skills, do not mix the two up. Then you need to go into your work experience, do not list any job that was less than five months, the fewer jobs on your CV the better, but go back in your work history for at least five years but no more than ten. This should be followed by your education and any relevant work-related training you have completed. Finally should come your hobbies and interests , do be aware though that socialising with family and friends is not considered a hobby or an interest!

Keep it simple

Its really important that your CV is easy to read and clearly understood. A basic rule is that under no circumstances should use jargon, you may know what AWOL means but the employer may not. Use plain simple English. Do not try to be clever either by using words that are generally not used in conversation. No-one likes a smart Alex. Another way to keep it simple is to use bullet points rather than long rambling sentences. This will make it easy for you to alter or add to in order to tailor your CV to suit a particular job.

Understand your audience

Study the job you are applying for, if there is a job description this is easy, if not think about the role and what it could involve. Also study the company you are applying work at . Get a good understanding of what the company do , what their products or services are and who their clients might be. Then look at your CV. Does your experience suit the role you are applying for? Do you do or have you done any of the duties listed on the job description, if so are they on your CV? Do you have the skills required for the role and are they clearly written on your CV? Basically, what you need to do is edit your CV in order that it matches as closely as possible what the employer is looking for. The days of one CV will do are long gone, you need to work really hard to convince an employer to offer you an interview nowadays so a bespoke CV is needed for each application you make.

If you follow these simple rules and put a bit of effort into your CV every time you submit an application you will find you get more interviews and the more interviews you attend the better chance you have at securing a job offer. It does involve work and it does involve using your brain but it will pay dividends in the end.

Good luck


Angela Burton