Ten steps to creating a standout CV

A standout CV should grab attention, cut through the competition and generate enough interest to get you an interview. We’ve got ten top tips to help you create the perfect CV.

  1. Tailor your CV

You may feel that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach saves you time, but it’s essential to tailor your CV to the job and industry. This shows the recruiter you are dedicated to the role you’re going for and committed to a career in that sector.

Emphasise your industry-relevant qualifications and experience throughout your CV. Give prominence to these at the top, so the recruiter immediately gets an idea of your suitability and is more likely to keep reading.

  1. Include a photo

There’s no proof to show that a photo aids your CV, and in an ever-changing industry, some recruiters even believe that leaving out a photo from your CV avoids any unconscious bias. However, anecdotal evidence shows an advantage to including a friendly-looking photo on your CV: it helps to make the CV stand out and also helps the recruiters to make a connection and remember you.

  1. Highlight your work history

This part depends on the length of your career – but as a guide, include a minimum of fifteen years and stick to roles that are most relevant to your chosen career. Start with your current and most recent positions at the top of your CV and list the rest of your work history in reverse chronological order.

  1. Use the right length

The rule of thumb throughout the recruiting industry is two pages, however depending on career length you might go beyond that. If that is the case, make sure your CV is formatted with clear headings and is easy to read.

  1. Polish your personal statement

It’s thought that recruiters spend an average of six to eight seconds reading a CV, so make it easy for them. Use your personal statement to hook them before they get the chance to


switch off and move onto another CV. Provide a focused and concise summary of what you have to offer the company, and perfect your statement by detailing your personal and professional attributes. When constructing your summary, tailor each attribute or skill to the job description. Your personal statement should sit at the top of the CV, just after your name and contact details.

  1. Show a reason for leaving your previous role

Your reason for leaving your last role is usually one of the first things an interviewer wants to know, so it can be helpful to show on your CV why you have left previous roles. It’s not essential to give a reason but it can free up more time in the interview to talk more about your skills and attributes.

  1. Choose the right CV format

You may want to use a CV template to help structure your CV and ensure it looks professional – there are plenty of free templates out there to get you started. Keep your CV clean and uncluttered, with generous spacing between sections. Use the same font throughout; Calibri, Garamond or Cambria all work well. For a guide on font size, use 10-12 point for your body text, and a maximum of 16 for headings. Embolden the headings and avoid using capitals for entire words to make your CV easier to read. When it comes to style and design, less is more – you don’t want busy fonts and colours distracting from the content of your CV or making recruiters think you’re not taking the role seriously.

  1. Ask someone else to read your CV

Once you’re happy with your CV and have proofread it, why not ask someone else to read over it before sending? A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference in ensuring there are no grammatical errors or unintentional every day slang terms that you might have overlooked. They may even pick up on some additional relevant skills or experience that you’ve forgotten to include.

  1. Be ready to explain gaps in your CV

Gaps in work history can make recruiters dubious when it comes to a CV so give any gaps a positive spin. Fill in these spaces with any professional development or volunteering work you took part in. If you completed any courses or soft skills training, your CV is a great place to shout about it.

  1. Keep your CV up to date

You never know when your next job opportunity could arise, so be ready! Keeping your CV up to date even when you’re not actively looking for jobs will save you time when you do begin your next job hunt.

With these top ten tips you are ready to start updating and building your new CV. Good luck!

For more advice watch our hints and tips on how to make your CV shine.

Looking for interview tips? Learn how to Ace The Interview.