An employer spends an average of 20-30 seconds scanning your CV.  If you are hoping to meet said employer for an interview you need to make those seconds count!  The aesthetics of your CV are pivotal to ensuring that the reader initially engages with your CV.  It’s the content quality that will then have them spending more time with the paper version of you and inspiring them to take action.

Here is easy some easy-to-follow advice to make your CV stand out from the crowd:

1. Get the basics right

Employers look for clear, accurate communication. Ensure that your CV includes the following sections:

  • Personal and contact information: Ensure that your contact details are correct. Use a professional e-mail address (not
  • Educational qualifications and work experience in reverse chronological order
  • Skills pertinent to the job ad are included (it’s ok to have a number of versions of your CV that all accurate, just with slight variations on the focus and highlighted skills)
  • Personal interests, achievements and hobbies

2. CV should be “clutter-free”

Your CV should have a clear, clean layout that is well structured so that it is easy to read. Avoid using hard to read fonts and colours if you are not applying for a creative job. Make sure it prints well.

3. Visuals Matter

Go the extra mile and have a graphic designer finish off your CV.  You can find really inexpensive providers online.  If you are creative make sure your CV reflects this.  If you’re in digital, have an online CV.

4. Link it

We are living in the digital age.  Make sure you include links to your LinkedIn profile, any personal site and/or blog.

5. Keep it concise

If you’re starting out in you career 2-3 pages should suffice.  If you are an old timer, up to 6 pages. Ensure that your CV is concise and relevant. Strive to omit irrelevant information that may deter from more pertinent points. Your CV is a storyboard; make sure it is engaging and be ready to tell your story.

6. Content matters

  • Make the most of your experience
    • Do not write in the third person and do not use first person pronouns.
    • Use positive and assertive language such as “organised”, “developed”, “initiated”, “implemented” or “achieved”.
    • Highlight your responsibilities and your accomplishments.
    • Relate your experience to the skills that you have learned and to the job role for which you are applying.
  • Highlight your core skills
    • Ensure that you mention key skills that can help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Tailor your CV to the role
    • Try to use some of the terms listed in the job description in your CV. This will help you connect with the company and interviewer and may get your CV through initial automatic CV screenings.
    • Ensure that you address the requirements of the job in your CV.
  • Highlight your interests
    • Interests highlighted should reaffirm your skill set.
    • Refer to positions of responsibility, team work etc., which will demonstrate your ability not only to use your own initiative but also to lead teams.
    • Include interests that display your diversity and make you sound interesting.
  • Note your achievements
    • For each role you should note 3-5 key achievements.  These should be quantifiable where possible.  For example, achieved 10-20% over budget year on year for 3 years.

7. No margin for errors

  • Check, check and triple check your CV. Ensure that spelling is correct, appropriate grammar is used, no typing errors are present and that there are no missing words. Mistakes will make employers question your attention to detail.

8. Explain gaps

  • If you went traveling for a year or took time out studying, ensure you make reference to.  Ensure the CV flows well and the employer is not left questioning if you’ve spent big chunks of your time lying around on a beach somewhere.

9. Keep your CV up-to-date

  • Review your CV every 6 – 12 months and add new skills/experience acquired and remove information that is no longer required.

10. Transfer to LinkedIn

  • Your CV should form the basis for your LinkedIn profile. This is where you can look to transfer your efforts from job hunting to job attracting.

So there you have it, how to write a Standout CV in 10 easy steps!

Download your FREE Cheat Sheet