Writing a CV and making it stand out are often two different things…
Whether you’ve recently finished school or university, or you’re just started searching for a new position, making your CV unique is essential if you want to get invited to an interview. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to do it.
Pay attention to your personal statement
Your personal statement is the first thing an employer sees when they open your CV, meaning that getting it right is absolutely vital if you want them to read on.
Firstly, focus on covering who you are, what you can offer, and what your career goals are – referring back to the job description to help you identify the specific skills the employer is looking for.
Secondly, make it unique. Anyone can talk about what they can bring to the company using a variation of vague adjectives – but you want to stand out. This means placing an emphasis on your most impressive, interesting, and relevant skills and abilities.
The key? Use examples to back up your claims, but don’t overdo it. Sum up the specific skills and experience that make you perfect for the position, but keep it as short and succinct as possible.
Aim for around 150 words (or four or five lines), and you’ll be on the right track.
Find your USP
Job hunting is competitive.
That means that for every application you submit, you could be up against numerous other candidates who have a similar skill set.
Luckily, your USP can set you apart. Whether it’s that you have your own blog, you’ve taken part in extracurricular activities or volunteer work, or you use social media to network with others in your field, it’ll all help you to stand out from the crowd.
Of course, these things should be relevant to the job – and should emphasise your ability to carry out the role effectively.
For example, candidates who have a blog dedicated to their field of expertise should draw attention to their commercial awareness and extensive knowledge on their subject area – alongside any other impressive achievements (e.g. having your work published and displayed at an event).
You should also include links to portfolios, blogs, or anything else that not only demonstrates your skills, but also makes you unique.
Make the most of keywords
OK, so we’re not saying you should include one in every sentence – but we are saying that you should bear them in mind while writing your CV.
This is because many employers use keywords to search for candidates, often basing them around the job title they’re hiring for, along with the requirements and duties involved with it. And if the recruiter uses an ATS, utilising keywords is even more important.
So to ensure you’re ticking all the boxes, always check the job description and company website for specific words and phrases the employer might be looking for.
This could range from making the most of synonyms so you can cover a range of different job titles (e.g. Retail Assistant, Sales Advisor, etc.), to being industry specific with your terminology and expanding on any qualifications you may have.
Use proactive descriptions
It’s easy to say you’re good at something, but backing it up? That can be a bit trickier.
To make sure you’re providing tangible examples for every skill you mention, always use the STAR model. Once you’ve identified the ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’ and ‘Result’, formulate this into a short key point, including how you achieved the result, and how your actions addressed the initial situation and task.
This will help you to communicate key points clearly and concisely within the job details section of your CV.
It’ll also mean you’re able to go beyond your past responsibilities, in order to cover results and achievements – which, let’s face it, demonstrate what you’re capable of more effectively.
For example, saying you ‘worked on social media’ doesn’t really tell the employer much. But saying ‘increased social media engagement by 20% through the implementation of a new strategy’ is a much better way of quantifying your abilities.
Tailor your CV to the job
Your CV is not a ‘one size fits all’ document.
This means that sending the same one every time won’t be doing you any favours when it comes to impressing an employer.
Instead, you should alter your CV in line with the role you’re applying for – using the job description, company information, and any other details you find from industry research as a guide.
Remember: a CV is all about selling yourself effectively, through emphasising your skills and experience. If the ones you list aren’t relevant, the employer isn’t going to be able to see how you match up.
Sure, it might take a bit more time, but it’s better to send off five carefully tailored CVs, than submit hundreds that don’t accurately represent your suitability.
Don’t forget the basics
Let’s face it, your CV won’t stand out if you don’t get the basics right.
So in addition to the above points, it’s vital to write a CV that’s clear, concise, and to-the-point (no more than two pages). And, to ensure common grammar mistakes or typos aren’t holding you back, always read your CV thoroughly before submitting it.
Finally, make sure your CV layout is easy-to-navigate, with your personal details, personal statement, work experience, achievements, education, and hobbies listed in a logical order.
If you’re struggling to get started, try our free CV template.
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
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