How to create a great CV that gets you noticed

Employment & Skills | How To

By Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager, CABA

A great CV is a must for any job, and in today’s market, if your résumé doesn’t match up to expectations, you could well be overlooked.

Standing out from the crowd can be a difficult task and there are some important pieces of advice you should always keep front of mind. For example, steer clear of buzzwords. Recent analysis of 1.1 million CVs from Adzuna shows that there are a handful of words used with alarming frequency. The results revealed that the word ‘motivated’ appears on over a quarter of résumés, as such using these words isn’t likely to make you stand out from the crowd.

Whether you’re applying for your first role or looking for greener pastures, we’ve shared some top tips to help you craft a CV that gets you noticed:

Customise your CV for every role you apply for

It may seem time consuming, but ensuring your CV is tailored to every company and position that you apply for is incredibly important. It’s likely that the employer will switch off if they think you’ve sent the same CV to 100 other companies. Making the effort from the beginning shows how passionate you are about not only the position, but also the company.

To do this, you need to demonstrate you’re the perfect match. Study the job specification and tailor your own experience to the request. If you don’t have all the necessary experience, then focus on transferable skills to provide evidence that you possess the qualities they’re looking for.

Ditch irrelevant information

Potential employers usually have a finite amount of time to read CVs and most will skim read to pick out key information. In fact, many organisations now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter through high volumes of applications, so avoid irrelevant information.

Again, analyse the job specification in detail and make note of any frequently used keywords or industry specific language. That doesn’t mean you should include an acronym or keyword in every sentence, but it does mean that you should think carefully about your wording to make sure your résumé matches up.

Identify your achievements

Employers want to see where you have added value in your career to date. Examples of your past behaviours are fantastic indicators of your future performances and your achievements could be the key to a stand-out CV from a potential pile of hundreds.

Writing a good, compelling achievement will put you top of the pile. Think about your successes; did you transform or implement any systems? How did this add value to the business? Were you the lead in a project, and if so what did you do?

Take the FAB approach

You’ve identified your achievements, now it’s make sure a prospective employer is wowed by them. Following this simple sentence structure will help you turn an ordinary achievement into a great success:

Feature: explain the way in which you did this. Start the sentence with a power word. For example, successfully, actively or efficiently.

Action: explore what you did. Use a verb, such as created, launched or co-ordinated, followed by a few words describing what you did.

Benefit: state the benefit to the company or customer. If you can make the benefit quantifiable this will have much more of an impact and show how you can add value.

Example: Successfully (F) organised all travel arrangements for senior management team (A), ensuring budgets were kept to and minimised time wasted.

Keep things neat

The format of your CV should be neat and well formatted. There is absolutely no excuse for typos or words in the wrong tense. As with any important document, be sure to check, check and check again. Why not get someone else to read it and take their feedback on board too?

It’s essential to keep your CV up to date as you never know when you may need it. There might be the opportunity for promotion within your current organisation or you may be actively seeking and find a role you want to apply for. You need to be prepared or you may miss out on the perfect opportunity.

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