5 Steps to a Standout CV

A CV is more than just a list of your skills and credentials, it is a powerful marketing tool. It is an opportunity to showcase to your potential employer what you have to offer their company, what makes you stand out, and why you are the perfect fit for a role with them. With recent reports suggesting that recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds reviewing a candidate’s CV, making a strong and memorable first impression on paper is more important than ever for securing an interview.


Reading through hundreds of CVs every week, our global talent recruiters know what a strong CV looks like. Here are their top five tips to help you stand out from the crowd and land that job interview.

    1. Start Strong
      Every CV should begin with a great personal profile showcasing your unique selling point – the distinctive blend of skills, characteristics and experiences that make you, you! Your personal profile should capture the essence of who you are as a person, what makes you unique and your long-term career goals, all in a short and concise format. Think of this section of your CV as a summary of everything you would say if you were given just 30 seconds to sell yourself to your prospective employer.Example – “A highly focused and self-motivated graduate with a first class honours degree in Marketing with excellent interpersonal skills, developed through several years of experience working in a customer service environment. Able to manage time effectively, having maintained a part-time role for two years whilst delivering on strict deadlines for university assignments. Seeking a graduate role at First Derivatives to enhance my opportunities for commercial exposure and personal growth.”


    1. Customise for the role you’re applying for
      Don’t make the mistake of sending a generic CV out to multiple employers. Submitting a ‘one size fits all’ CV in the application process suggests a lack of genuine interest in the organisation. Recruiters are searching for candidates who are as passionate about their company as they are! The content on your CV should clearly reflect the type of industry you are applying for and should highlight the aspects of your experience that are most relevant to that industry. When discussing your work, education or extracurricular experience, be sure to highlight examples of the key skills and values the employer is searching for in an ideal candidate. These attributes are typically outlined in the job description and on the careers section of the company’s website. It may help to highlight these attributes in bold on your CV so they capture the recruiter’s attention during their ‘7-second scan’.


    1. You have strong problem-solving skills? Prove it!
      Bold claims about your skillset are meaningless without evidence. Anyone can claim to be a good team player, but not everyone can prove it. Give your claims some authenticity by highlighting how you’ve demonstrated them. If you want to impress your prospective employer, where possible, explain how you’ve obtained your skills through facts, figures, responsibilities and achievements.Example – “Able to demonstrate initiative”
      “During my previous role, I used my initiative to approach senior management to propose solutions for making administrative processes more efficient, this allowed the office staff to invest more time in delivering excellent customer service“.


    1. Don’t disregard your other achievements – they are relevant
      While your CV should primarily focus on highlighting your academics and work experience, your other achievements and experiences can demonstrate important qualities you possess that may be relevant to the role. Be sure to mention any volunteering, extracurricular activities, business ventures, language skills or additional courses you have taken. Highlighting other interesting achievements can be particularly beneficial for your application if you haven’t been able to complete any relevant work experience. Have you spent a summer in Germany working behind a bar? You can use this experience to demonstrate your adaptability, team-working and communication skills!


  1. Get the basics right
    Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of simple details such as CV structure, length and grammar. Use an online template to ensure your CV has a logical structure and flow that is easy to follow. Keep the content concise and relevant and try to avoid exceeding 2 pages in length. Furthermore, use an online grammar checking tool such as Grammarly or have a friend or family member read your CV prior to your submission. Finally, ensure that all information including your work experience, academics and contact information are up to date. These simple details may seem quite obvious but can really make the difference between just a good CV and a standout CV.