In many industries – particularly in entry level or junior roles – you can be up against hundreds of people applying for the same role. To make sure you get a chance to wow the hiring managers with your dazzling personality, it’s all about nailing the CV – the tool designed to get you an interview.
When a recruiter receives hundreds of resumes that look and read the same, it can be difficult to know how to make yours, you and your credentials for the job, stand out.
We spoke to Caroline, our recruitment guru to get her tips on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd…
1. Don't make your CV too busy
You might think fancy formatting and bold choices are guaranteed to help you make your mark. And maybe they will - but not for the right reasons. "What can you do to make a CV stand out? Don't try to make it stand out!"
You'd be surprised at how few CVs are correctly formatted, very simple, and let the content do the talking. Too many people sacrifice being clear by trying to be original.
2. Don’t send the same old CV to everyone
One of the most time-consuming but important pieces of advice when it comes to CV writing is to tailor each CV to the company/role you’re applying for. We know, it's a long process - but almost all the recruiters we spoke to insisted it was the best way to stand out. It's so important you show on your CV how keen you are for that specific role. The same generic CV sent out for multiple job applications limits your chance of making the cut.
The one keyword to remember when editing your CV is “relevance”. A single page of relevant information is far more likely to be successful than four or five pages listing everything you’ve ever done. Aim for a concise and focused CV that contains only relevant skills and experience - this will always beat pages of waffling.
Make sure you highlight the skills you gained in past roles that you would need in the role you are applying for – even if the work was different. Focus on previous positions that were similar to the one you are trying to get. If you have done other jobs between that were not relevant, don’t leave gaps, but a small mention is enough.
3. Tell them about yourself
Obviously the first place a hiring manager is going to look is the top of the page, so make sure you kick things off with something memorable and quick that gives them a clear idea of who you are. The best way to do this is to include a short profile as an introduction so that companies can get a sense of your personality and career goals.
Don’t just write out all the requirements of your existing job. It's tempting to want to tell potential employers exactly what you do all day and how this could be beneficial to the role you're applying for. But there's a way to do it. Try to include what you have achieved rather than listing duties you are responsible for.
Many jobseekers underestimate the achievements they have made and undervalue their impact on the business. Don't just say you were 'ordering stationery', say you were 'responsible for ensuring the company had the necessary resources to operate efficiently’. To make these achievements more readable use bullet points and shorter sentences.
4. Not just “what”, but “how”
Back your credentials up with examples. Even if yours are true, anyone can make up empty claims on their CV with no real evidence. So, use examples to back up the roles, experience and tasks you say you are responsible for, as proof and to help your job history stand out.
When you’re writing about relevant skills, qualities and experience, try and give some short examples to bring your CV to life. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a career change, think about all the things you’ve done over the last few years – whether it be education, previous jobs or even activities such as volunteering.
Try to pick at least one specific example per job you've held and explain briefly how it improved the business. It can't be stressed often enough that your CV is designed to get you the interview, not the job, so remember not to delve into too much detail. Provide enough information to entice your potential employers to call you in so you can explain face-to-face the exact details of the tasks you've undertaken and the skills you have learnt.
5. Stop underselling yourself
It’s human nature to play down your achievements for fear of being too boastful, but these insecurities should be left at the door when it comes to CVs. Think of it like this: if your worst enemy was applying for the same job and you knew they were going to make a big song and dance about their achievements, would you be shy about your own? No. There's no room for modesty when you’re applying for a job.
6. Include your hobbies and interests
Work/life balance has never been more important, so you want to show who you are when you’re not working. Showcase your sports, side hustles, achievements, community groups and interests outside of work.
If you’re an interesting person, you’re already an interesting candidate. And you never know what shared interests might be enough to get you in the door.
7. Consider your online presence
As well as getting noticed, you also want to make life easier for the hiring manager. If there’s a quick link they can click on to get a better idea of you as a person and potential candidate, why not include it?
Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and putting a URL within your CV can also come in handy. Personal blogs and websites are another great way to show off your portfolio and your experience.
Most recruiters will Google you at some point, so try to put your best foot forward on your social profiles. While there’s nothing wrong with having a photo of you drinking alcohol or partying with friends on Facebook or Instagram, you want to consider the image you’re projecting to potential employers. One cocktail in front of you could look classy, but half a dozen might send the wrong message.
Want more employment tips and advice?
Our employment experts are only too happy to review your current CV, help you with job interviews, and give you advice on a range of other topics to help you get a job or take the next step in your career. And good luck on the job hunt!