Whether you are a starter or a professional, everyone has an idea of how to write a CV. This article seeks to point out key things that can make your CV stand out. Recruiters often look through CVs using a list of criteria to narrow down a shortlist for a given role. To ensure your CV is included in the shortlist, it needs to be readable and include the most relevant information from your experience.
Your CV is your word to your potential employer. It needs to give you that hedge over another applicant and help you stand a chance of getting an interview. Below are some tips for refining your CV and stamping it as fit for purpose.
Include your full name, address, phone number, email address and, if relevant, your LinkedIn and Twitter account names, ideally as hyperlinks.
Include a professional-sounding email address. Avoid mail addresses that sound too casual or which use nicknames such as ‘’firstname.lastname@example.org” or similar.
Date of birth should be left out except if required for the role.
Include nationality or any relevant visa status.
Do not include photos or visual elements unless specifically requested.
Your opening statement should cover your key strengths, either as a one or two sentence summary of how you best fit the role, or as bullet points of your core skills, talents and selling points.
Your opening statement gives you a great opportunity to tailor your CV for each job application. Adapt it to be as relevant as possible and create different versions that directly address the requirements listed on a specific job ad. (Not many are aware that this is in fact okay to do).
Write your CV with the job description in mind
By thoroughly researching the company, and by paying attention to key words in the job description, you will get a good sense of the organisation’s needs. Use this knowledge to your advantage and write your CV to compliment this.
To help tailor it, you can incorporate keywords in your CV that you find in the job description or that are common to your role of interest.
Where possible include your most relevant achievements that show how you successfully handled similar situations to what you would do in the job you are applying for.
When listing your achievements, also demonstrate how they made a difference.
Use numbers and percentages to show measurable success and illustrate how you added value to organisations you have worked for.
Avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting your accomplishments and make sure you don’t claim complete responsibility for team achievements. If you get invited to the interview stage you will need to be able to explain your involvement in detail.
Outline your career history, beginning with your current or most recent role going back in time. List your job title, employer name, dates of employment, key responsibilities, skills and achievements.
Focus on the last five years in chronological order from most recent.
Explain any gaps you have in your employment.
Keep it brief by choosing the most relevant responsibilities and achievements for each role specific to the job you are applying for.
Avoid long sentences and use bullet points to summarise.
Avoid lists of ‘responsibilities included’ type statements. Instead, focus on your actual achievements, and use dynamic action words and active verbs or phrases like ‘created’, ‘enhanced’, ‘saved’, ‘launched, ‘negotiated’, ‘designed’, ‘coached’, ‘assessed’, ‘undertook’, ‘supervised’, ‘organised’, ‘managed’, ‘transformed’, rather than nouns or passive verbs, like ‘Projects were delivered on time and within budget’ or just ‘Project management’.
Avoid lies. They will get found out one way or another. Don’t risk it.
Avoid using casual abbreviations, overly descriptive language as it masks the quality of the information in your CV.
Check thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors every time you make changes and ask someone else to review your CV and give you feedback.
Education & Training
List your highest qualification first.
For each education element you include, list the institution’s name, number of years you attended and qualifications gained.
Include any relevant professional qualifications you have, especially if they are listed as part of the role criteria.
Hobbies & Interests
Add a brief summary of your interests to reflect your personality without going into excessive detail.
Avoid listing overly personal hobbies and interests. If you don’t have any interesting hobbies, it is better to leave this section out altogether.
Your hobbies could give you additional chance of getting an interview if they are relevant to the company you’re applying to, so emphasise any interests that align with the company, including any charity or volunteer work.
Include some interests and achievements you have outside of work.
It is generally advisable, especially if space is an issue, to indicate that references are available upon request.
Your referees would generally only be contacted if your application progresses, and in this case you should contact them ahead.
If asked to include references with your application, provide the names, job titles, email addresses and phone numbers of your two main referees. Where possible, choose former managers or colleagues in positions of responsibility in your former workplaces or industry, rather than friends or family members.
CV quality paves the way for you. By following the points highlighted, you will improve the chances of your CV being more visible, thereby increasing your chances of getting an interview and securing a job.
Some Interview tips Note that some interviewers use CVs as a guide for asking questions in the interview.
Ensure you know the information on your CV enough to summarise it.
It is okay to have your CV in front of you during interviews but only use it as a discussion guide.