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Career Support: How To Create A Standout CV

Maddie Brindley-Slater
8 April 2022

You’re probably reading this blog because you’ve been on your job search journey without much luck.

Perhaps you’ve been applying for lots of positions but you’re not hearing a peep in response. Maybe a recruiter has shown some initial interest, only to disappear once you’ve provided them with a copy of your CV. Whatever the scenario, it can be frustrating when you’re working hard but reaping minimal rewards.

One of the first places to start when you’re feeling like you’ve hit a dead-end in your job search is to review your CV. After all, having an eye-catching CV or resume is essential for securing that coveted interview. Thankfully, there are some basic tips to give your CV a boost that everyone can follow.

First things first, we recommend you review your existing CV to ensure the information is up to date and best reflects your experience and skills. If you’ve had a change of address or phone number, make sure to amend these details.

Including a strong opening to your CV in the form of a personal statement is a quick way to grab the attention of any prospective readers.

Additionally, if you’ve not looked at your CV for a while, you’ll likely find that your strengths & skills have improved since your last draft. You may find that you’re now in a position to write a much stronger summary of a previous role than when you last tweaked your CV!

Lastly, triple check for any typos and formatting errors, whilst ensuring the layout flows smoothly.

Once you’ve covered all of the above basics, take it one step further by following our tips below to ensure your CV not only meets the standard but instead stands out

How to improve your CV…

Standout cv2

CV tip 1: Cover letters count!

How many times have you whizzed through multiple applications in one sitting without taking the time to write a tailored cover letter?

Unfortunately, without a customised cover letter, your chances of securing an interview drop. This is because 83% of recruiters site the cover letter as being the most important aspect of an application.

Without this key element, you’re off to a shaky start; cover letters are often used as a means to cull weak applicants to control the volume of applications to review. Therefore, a poor cover letter means that your CV may never get read!

If you’re unsure whether the position requires a cover letter, there is no harm in crafting one anyway. To give yourself the strongest chance of getting exposure amongst a sea of applicants, ensure your cover letter provides a snapshot of your strengths and matches the job specification. Additionally, be sure to address the hiring manager directly.

Ultimately, taking the time to write a distinctive cover letter takes you one step closer to making a bold 1st impression.

CV tip 2: Keep it concise

Although the goal is to convey as much information as possible, keeping your CV succinct is even more vital.

CVs that are too long indicate a lack of discipline and inclusion of irrelevant details. Even if you have lots of information you want to include, refine your writing so that only the most applicable areas for the role are in focus.

Interestingly, findings show that short and sweet CVs of 1-2 pages perform best, so stick within these limits. Keeping to a concise word count and format is a skill in itself – the more your CV eloquently shows your skills in as few words as possible, the better.

To get as much relevant material onto your 1-2 pages, consider utilising a bullet-point format. This makes for easy reading and allows prospective employers to quickly glance over your cv, extracting all the key points in a snapshot.

Remember - if you are contending with a large volume of CVs you may only get seconds to stand out!

Standout cv3

CV tip 3: Customise your CV for each application

A quick way to get your CV to stand out is to study the job posting, slotting in the suitable keywords throughout. The more suited your CV is for the specification, the better your chance of being considered for an interview (which is where you really get to sell yourself).

One way of going about this is to create multiple versions of your CV, or ideally one CV per application. It may seem counterproductive, but this will allow you to tailor your CV perfectly for the role. Compare a generic untailored CV to one that contains the phrases and requirements listed in the job spec; which CV do you think is most likely to stand out?

To get started, review the job posting and disperse the relevant keywords throughout your CV. Make sure that it makes sense and flows without highlighting that you’ve used buzzwords for the sake of it. Finally, save a copy into a folder dedicated to the company to avoid confusion (if you’re applying for multiple roles at differing companies).

This method ensures you have maximized your chances of standing out with a perfectly adapted CV. The ultimate goal is to impress the recruiter at first glance!

CV tip 4: Consider volunteering or internships

If you feel like a lack of experience may be impacting your response rate, consider exploring volunteering or internship opportunities. Though these are unpaid options, this type of work experience shows a willingness to learn on the job, and a readiness to explore multiple avenues.

This can be particularly helpful if you are trying to break into an industry that requires a set amount of experience to be considered for a role.

The major positive of this solution is that volunteering and internships show that you have great initiative and are willing to go the extra mile to enhance your skills and grow your experience.

As well as enhancing the strength of your CV, unpaid work can also be a great talking point, should you make it to the interview stage.

Want additional support?

No matter your work history, there are simple ways to improve your CV so that you can stand out from the crowd.

If you’ve been applying non-stop but seem to be hitting a wall, follow the above tips in order to refresh your CV and remember to always approach CV writing from an honest angle (fabricated enhancements can catch you out eventually!)

If you’re still feeling stuck or require more support, consider working with a coach or mentor. We understand that if you’ve been on your job search journey for a long time, it can feel like you’ve exhausted all options. In this scenario, getting a 3rd party opinion and a fresh perspective can take your CV to the next level.

Many of our talented experts specialise in offering CV writing support. Get tailored 1-2-1 advice at the click of a button from somebody who has helped many others in your situation.

Reach out to an expert to book a Virtual Coffee to see how we can help you here.

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