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How To Write A CV That Stands Out

June 26, 2020
write a cv

Job hunting can be so draining. Especially if you are applying for many at the same time. We all know that having a great CV that stands out will give us an edge in the application process, but do we all know how to write a CV that stands out? It is vital that when you’re applying for your dream job that you have a CV that truly grabs the employer’s attention. Don’t miss out on opportunities because of your CV.

Please note that I am not an expert. These are tips I have picked up over years of applying for jobs and giving advice to others. The important things to remember is that there is a job out there for you, don’t get disheartened and don’t give up! Hopefully these tips will help your write a CV that lands you the perfect job.

Spell Check When You Write A CV

This is vital. Employers are going to pick people based on their experience levels and skills. If someone else applies who has the same experience and skills that you do, but you have a spelling mistake on your CV you will be out of the running. Employers will be looking for mistakes. It only takes 2 minutes to spell check and there are so many resources now so there really is no excuse for these errors when you write a CV.

Tailor Your CV

If you’ve written a CV tailored to an industry you aren’t applying for, you will be overlooked. I would go as far as tailoring your CV for each job you apply for. Read the job description and ensure you mention the skills they are looking for. Research the company and the industry and re-word your personal statement to reflect them. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you write a CV for each individual job, you will have a much higher success rate.

Keep It To The Point When You Write A CV

Employers aren’t looking for your entire life story. They just need to know that your skills and experience match the role they are hiring for. CVs should be no more than 2 A4 pages long. Keep it short and simple on your CV, you can expand your experience in your cover letter. Short descriptions and bullet points are fine for explaining your past roles and skills. Remember that this isn’t a breakdown of your workday, it’s an overview of your experience.

Get Others To Read It

Human error is unavoidable. It’s important that you get a few people to proofread your CV to make sure you haven’t missed any mistakes. They may even have advice on how you can improve what you’ve already got on the CV. When you write a CV it’s easy to remember that other people will be reading it, so it’s best to get friends and family members to give it a once over before sending it off to a potential employer.

Make It Look Good

It’s not enough to just write down your experience. It’s important that your CV is visually appealing. There are CV templates you can use to help with this, but I would advise editing them to fit your experience instead of using the bog-standard template ideals. Presentation could be the difference between your CV being read and your CV being thrown away. It could be the things that sets you apart from other candidates so use it to your advantage.

how to write a cv that really impresses

Perfect Your Personal Statement When You Write A CV

Your personal statement is your chance to tell the employers why your experience relates to the job before they get to your cover letter. It should be a short overview of your experience and how it relates to the job and industry you’re applying for. Applying for a supervisory position? Make sure to mention that you were a team leader in your university group project or any experience you may have in leadership. Tailor it for the job you’re applying for and perfect it.

Be Honest When You Write A CV

If you lie about your experience or education, you will likely be caught out. This is especially important when you’re adding your education. It doesn’t happen all the time, but the employer may ask for evidence of your education before offering you employment. Similarly they may check your employment history through way of references etc. If you claim to be proficient with a certain software then turn up on the first day and can’t use it, that will look really bad. So just be honest.

Get Good References

Chances are that, as stated above, the employers will want to check with your previous employers to ensure you’re right for the position. They will most likely want references from your most recent positions as it’s a better reflection of your experience. Ensure that you ask for these references and either put “references available on request” or list them on your CV. This is not something you can avoid and it’s better to be upfront about it and acknowledge that you can get references to the employer.

Make Sure To Provide Up To Date Contact Details

This is so important. It can be so easy to overlook this and forget to update your phone number/email address. Not all employers will email, some will phone so it’s vital that all of your contact details are up to date. It will look so unprofessional if you provide a wrong phone number and they can’t get a hold of you. On this note, please don’t put an email address that looks unprofessional. Create a new one that is more professional.

Use The Right Language When You Write A CV

Using “active” language like “analysed” or “created” will show you as someone who uses initiative and help you stand out. Remember that everyone will be using key words such as “hard-working” and “team player” so it’s better to show it. Instead of “I’m a hard-working team player” try language like “When I was the leader of my university group I worked hard and created a relaxed and focussed environment” or “working with the *insert job* team at *insert company* I thrived by working with team members and pushed them to be better”. Remember that employers are reading hundreds of CVs, so try to stand out by changing the language you use.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Alison Kelly June 26, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    This is great advice. As a librarian, this is something that I help people with a lot. Thanks for the post!

  • Reply Jodie Paterson June 26, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    That’s interesting that as a librarian you help a lot with CVs! Thanks for commenting

  • Reply Melissa | The CV Advisor June 26, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    Great tips! As a recruiter myself, you’ve pretty much nailed all the basics! Great post x

    • Reply Jodie Paterson June 26, 2020 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you! Glad I’ve managed to get the basics šŸ˜Š

  • Reply Adam June 27, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Oh god, I think I was about 18 the last time I wrote a CV (Iā€™m 34), after leaving my job this year I dread having to write a CV šŸ˜¬

    • Reply Jodie Paterson June 27, 2020 at 12:02 pm

      It’s so daunting! My partner was the same as you, worked in the same company for several years and now has to write a CV. It’s what inspired the post haha

  • Reply Kathryn June 30, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Great advice. I agree that a CV definitely needs to be tailored – so many CVs can be overlooked if you don’t show that you are applying for a specific job. It’s so important to take the time to write a good CV – it can give real benefits.

    • Reply Jodie Paterson June 30, 2020 at 9:35 am

      100%. It’s so much easier to just send the same CV to everyone, but your response level will be much lower! Thank you for commenting

  • Reply Natasha Evans June 30, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Definitely think it’s so important to tailor your CV and get someone to proof read it! Great advice!

    Tash – http://www.agirlwithview.co.uk

  • Reply Lisa's Notebook June 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Spelling checks are an absolute MUST for any CV. I used to dismiss so many applications over spelling mistakes, which might seem harsh, but if they couldn’t be bothered to check themselves, how much care were they likely to take with their work? šŸ™‚ Lisa

    • Reply Jodie Paterson June 30, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      So true! It’s always the first thing I do when I am working on my CV for that exact reason!

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