How to Create an Effective CV that will Stand Out to Employers

Updating your CV and not sure where to start?

 

Preparing your professional document will be hands-down the most important step in your next big career move. But yet, there is distinct lack of transparency around what will be most useful to prospective employers, creating confusion and subsequently – many candidates will leave it until the last minute.

 

This step-by-step article will guide you through how you can make your CV stand-out to employers, pushing you past the longlist in 2022.

 

STEP ONE: Formatting your CV

Many talented professionals will be overlooked in the market purely due their skillset being hidden behind unstructured formatting, wordy paragraphs, grammatical errors, and irrelevant information. Your CV should be visually appealing, as well as professional, consistent, concise, and clear of any errors.

  • Ensure your CV is structured correctly.

A great first step for ensuring this is considering the order your information is communicated in. Your CV should make sense to any prospective employer, coherently walking them through your skills and experience. The structure I recommend to my candidates is:

  1. Title
  2. Contact Details
  3. Personal Summary
  4. Academic Achievement & Qualifications
  5. Employment History
  6. Referee Details
  • Use headings to clearly structure your document.

Labelling the sections of your CV through headings will allow readers to navigate your information quickly and efficiently, identifying key skills and experience to assess your suitability as a candidate. Your reader should be able to be identify your headings immediately at a first glance of your CV.

Strategically consider how you will highlight these. Some tools we recommend implementing are use of capital letters, bold, underline, or even font style and size.

  • Approach stylised programmes and colour with caution.

When it comes to choosing a style or using colour on your CV – keep it simple! Don’t overcomplicate and clutter your merits as a professional with unnecessary stylisation or bright colours that are difficult to read.

  • Choose an appropriate font.

Choose a font that is easy to read, professional, and consistent with the overall style of your CV. We recommend writing your main body of text in 11 or 12 pt sized plain font and reserving larger or bold font for key points or headings.

  • Use bullet points to highlight key information.

Bullets are a really useful tool for breaking up wordy information and summarising key points. However, take care not to overuse this tool, or your points will loose their emphasis. These shouldn’t be any longer than one sentence, or preferably line of text, and are most effective grouped in bullets of between 3 – 6 points.

  • Strategically implement spacing.

Spacing is a great tool for separating information on your document, and implemented correctly can really add to the visual appeal of your CV. This may be between sections, the headings and text body of your CV, or even between paragraphs.

KEY TIP: whatever structure, headings, styles, colours, fonts, bullet points, and spacing that you implement in your CV it should be consistent throughout your entire document.

 

STEP TWO: Compiling your Personal Details

This will be your chance to set the tone for the rest of your document, so don’t underestimate the importance of this section of your CV.

  • Include a Personal Summary.

A good personal summary will illustrate to an employer who you are as a working professional, as well as where you would like to go next as you develop your career. Your personal summary should be clear, and to-the-point; ideally it shouldn’t be any more than 2 – 3 sentences.

A good additional tool to implement in this section may be using bullet points to highlight 5-6 of your key selling points as an applicant for a specific role.

  • Keep it relevant.

The requirements of what should be included on a CV has changed significantly over the past 20 years as employers continue their hunt for talent. It’s important to only include personal details that are relevant to you as a candidate, without leaving room for discriminatory bias. Things that may not be relevant include photos, your D.O.B., or marital status.

KEY TIP: List appropriate contact details… Now might be the time to consider changing the personal email address that you created when you were 14.

 

STEP THREE: Detailing your Employment History

This is the section of your CV that employers will pay the most attention to, so don’t undersell yourself as a candidate for their role.

  • Your Employment History; what should you include?

Under your heading “Employment History” your various contracts of employment should be listed in order from most – least recent. These should be structured in separate paragraphs and clearly labelled by:

  • Position title
  • Company name, branch, or team
  • Period of employment

This section should include your key duties, who the role reports to and which firm goals it works towards achieving, as well as any significant projects you have been involved in or skills that you have developed.

KEY TIP: Select your Referees carefully and always have a conversation with them first to ensure they are happy to be contacted by prospective employers on your behalf.

 

Feel free to give me a call for further advice!

Published by Emily Watson

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