I get asked this all the time, and whilst no 2 CV’s are exactly the same (nor should they be) there are some essential basic elements to all CV’s which work Every. Single. Time.
Whilst this list may seem short, sweet and a little frank, it will get you results!
So here are my 3 essential basics to making your CV standout:
1. Make it look good.
That old saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover? It does not apply here unfortunately. Hiring managers judge your document on a lot of things and the actual content is just one of them. Make sure your formatting, structure, fonts (2 max), spacing, bullet point alignment, use of full stops, spelling, and consistency are all considered. Getting someone to review your CV makes a huge difference here.
2. Show your essential information CLEARLY.
This includes your name, contact details, dates of employment (month, year to and from, always most recent first) and education (year to and from, name of institution, grade, title).
There is a lot of debate about the importance of all of your job roles and all of your qualifications, grades being included. Ultimately these opinions are as subjective as the person or robot who is reviewing your application. It is subjective, because it is entirely dependant on their conscious, unconscious or programmed criteria on what makes a good CV or not. This is further influenced or managed by the criteria of the organisation.
Think about it this way, missing information, such as grades or employment gaps lends to assumptions. For example, if you have not provided your grades, it possibly means you failed. So do yourself a favour and provide as clear a story as possible. Remember the person or robot reviewing your CV literally does not know you. So if all they have to go by is your CV, make it as clear and full as possible.
3. Display your responsibilities AND your achievements.
There is a huge difference between what you do and describing HOW you do it. Really think about this, if both you and your colleague in exactly the same job applied to the same role, then your achievements are what makes your stand out! This might include sales figures, feedback, examples of things that went well. Any tangible examples, KPI’s or specific numbers are particularly helpful in your achievements section.
Remember, your CV will change and evolve as you do. It helps to keep a running record of your entire career history. I also recommend having a second version which get’s tailored to each role you apply to. This way you always have a master copy to remember what you have achieved, as well as how far you have come.
Get the basics right and the rest will come.