CV layouts go through trends just as quickly as fashion. We've seen the inclusion of everything from QR codes to headshots. It’s a hard task to try to second guess which additional extras will make your CV standout from the rest, and those which will ensure its thrown out.

There's always some things that'll never go out of style. Remember, when it comes to writing your CV, clarity and brevity will always top the list. Pair this with a clean, modern design and you have all the tools needed to help you land that interview.

Competition will always be tough, so take some time to understand how to make your CV stand out by using the tips below.


1. Pay Attention to Format

Pay Attention to Format Whether you’re applying for a role in the creative industries or not, design will always matter. It all boils down to balance; a clean, smooth look that has just enough style to stand out. Adding a touch of colour is an easy way to jazz things up without putting off the reader. And pay attention to fonts. Times New Roman looks a little dated and boring; instead choose a clean font that gives a more tightened-up presentation, something like a bit of Helvetica Neue.


2. Make the Top Part Count

The top third of your CV is what we as recruiters or an HR will scan through quickly to determine whether or not we will read the rest. This will take 5 seconds tops. So it’s vital that the top part is attention grabbing. Point the reader to places where you have samples of your work product, like LinkedIn for example - and always add your phone number and email address.

Agenda Advice: If you still have a Hotmail email address, think about upgrading to a Gmail account. Hotmail can often be seen as an ‘education’ based email, and may look like you’re living a little in the past.


3. Promote Your Brand

You need to show what you can do for an employer, not what they can do for you. The point of your CV is to highlight what you can’t afford a potential employer to miss. Your qualification summary should take up prime position on your CV, and should also parallel the summary section on your LinkedIn page. For both your CV and LinkedIn summaries, remember to use language that calls out some of the achievements and attributes that make you most valuable to an employer.


4. Emphasise Key Skills Catch attention by emphasising your skill set close to the top of your CV. Doing this cements the value you can bring to the role, as opposed to what you're looking for in a job. As you apply for different posts, re-work this section to emphasis the skills that make the most sense for each, rather than using the same language for every job application. It’s helpful to identify phrases from the job posting and mirror them in your CV. This will give you a better chance of making it into the yes pile.

Agenda Advice: Save your Soft Skills, such as ‘quick learner’, ‘great communicator’ for your interview; CVs are built for your list of hard skills. Distinguishable tech and social media knowledge is particularly relevant in today’s job market. (And no, the Microsoft Office suite does not count!)


5. Highlight Performance

Don't make us hunt down your achievements, instead pull out a standalone summary of what you’ve accomplished. This is another place where you’ll want to tailor awards, benchmarks etc to the job you’re applying for. If you’ve been promoted previously then tell us why, If you’ve saved money, how much? Did you successfully win a design contract? How?

This part of your CV will always feel the hardest to put together. We suggest looking through past performance reviews, and thinking back to what your past bosses and coworkers said you did better than anyone else. Think of it as your superpower section. To make this section different to your summary, try to focus on quantifiable evidence. Think pound signs and percentage points.


6. Show Key Work Metrics

When you get to listing your work experience, don’t just list titles and dates. Use a few lines of text to weave a story for hiring managers. For example, When did you change industries? Why were you promoted? Where do you aim to go next?

Use bullet points to back up your claims with relevant facts and figures. The only way to make yourself look unique is to dig into what you did beyond the expected. Statistics are an easy way to prove you did more than the job description demanded.


7. Control Your Timeline

Your CV is a curation of your most relevant work history. If you’re anything beyond entry-level employee, your internships and early jobs will be taking up valuable space. Get rid of experiences that date back further than 10 years, unless they’re essential to the narrative - for example, an internship that changed your career trajectory. Also leave out school/university graduation dates. Don't give that ageist employer an excuse to pass over your CV because they feel you’re too young, or too old.


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