5 key tips for making a successful CV

Posted: 21st of February 2019 by Lewis Scott

How can you get a job? Ace your interview.

How can you land an interview? By crafting a well-written CV which proves your value to employers.

Simple, right?

Well, not really. Those in the job market know just how difficult it is to land a face-to-face interview with an employer. Competition for most roles is fierce. An average CV full of cliches just doesn’t cut it anymore.

So, check out these 5 key tips for making a successful CV:


Know your target roles

How are you meant to impress the company without knowing what they’re actually looking for? Before you start writing your CV, take some time to research your target roles.


Head over to the major job boards and search for the type of job you’ll be applying for. Click on the adverts which match your salary expectation, location and sector and grab a notebook.


What are the most common skills/education/experience required for these roles? Jot them down and refer back to your list whilst preparing your CV. By highlighting these relevant attributes and linking them to your experiences in your CV, you’re able to seamlessly prove your suitability for the role.



Format and structure are vital

First impressions count. If your CV is badly formatted, difficult to read and has little structure, you’ll be lucky if recruiters even bother to read it!


Follow these simple tricks to ensure a readable, easy on the eye document:


  • Your CV isn’t a novel. Keep it to two sides of A4 in length.
  • Opt for a simple, clear font such as Arial in size 12.
  • Don’t squash everything in - white space is essential for easy reading.
  • Use bullet-points where possible.
  • Order your education and experience in reverse chronological order.




Start with an eye-catching profile

The top of your CV is the first thing every recruiter will see upon opening the document. If it doesn’t make an impact, you’re out!

Your personal profile, should head your CV, and is your one shot at impressing potential employers, enticing them to read on and summarising your most relevant skills, experience and achievements.

Write a short, powerful paragraph which outlines who you are, what you’re all about, what you can offer the company and why you’re the best candidate for the job. It shouldn’t be more than 4-6 lines long - make each and every word count.


There’s no need to write about your objectives and requirements in the profile – save them for your cover letter.



Focus on relevant skills and experience

It’s hard to fit everything in on two sides of A4 - but is all the information on your CV actually relevant? You have limited space, so use it wisely by focusing on the information that’s vital to your target jobs.


Work experience should be the focal point if you’re an experienced candidate – but if you’re new to the world of work, and don’t have much work experience, that’s OK. You can draw transferable skills from your studies, school projects, work experience, or even volunteer work.


When listing your roles, make sure to match your responsibilities and achievements to candidate requirements of the jobs you are applying to.



Boost your CV with impressive achievements

Recruiters read through hundreds of job responsibilities every day. Stand out in a pile of CV’s by focusing on your achievements rather than duties.

Your achievements are things which you did in previous roles which made a significant impact on the company or their clients. For example, you might have exceeded your sales targets for 5 months running, increased leads by 40% by implementing a new programme or received an award for your fantastic customer service skills.

However big or small the achievement was, it’ll show employers that you can make a tangible difference to a company. Good luck!


Andrew Fennell is a former recruiter and founder of StandOut CV, a leading advice centre for CV writing and job search. Andrew contributes careers advice to a number of sites including The Guardian, Business Insider and CV Library.

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