How to Make Your CV Better Than Your Competitors’
There’s a stark difference between putting together a CV and making it really shine. Anyone can write a CV, it isn’t a difficult task. But what is more difficult is making yours memorable — for the right reasons. Your CV is unique to you, so making sure stands out from your competitors’ is so important in the job hunt. You may well be hugely talented but if your CV doesn’t reflect this, it could be put aside without a second glace. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can make your CV better than the rest. Here are four of our best CV writing tips.
1. Take time writing your opening statement
Your opening statement, or profile, is the first thing the employer will read. For this reason, it’s crucial that you make sure they don’t tune out before they get to the main bulk of your CV. You need to make this section unique to you — and to your potential employer. This is the place where you describe what you’re all about; who you are in this world and how you personally can make a difference. Instead of listing generic adjectives about yourself, tell the employer what you can offer them and why they need you in their company. (Note: don’t literally say “you need to hire me because X”.) Here, you should explain what your goals are in your career path. What makes you so passionate about working in a job like this? Summarise what you already know about this field.
You should always refer back to the job description from that employer. For the most part, your opening statement should be tailored to them. If they’ve listed a certain quality that they’re looking for in an employee, make it known that you have it. Don’t just write down a list of abilities from the ‘required skills’ section of their job description, but steer your writing influenced by what they’re looking for. Highlight the most remarkable and relevant skills you have. Put down the ones you know will impress an employer. However, the trick here is to not overdo it. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, just confident in your abilities. Make sure this section is no more than 150 words or else you could risk losing their attention before they’ve really began learning about you.
2. Think outside the box
It’s easy to list impressive skills, qualifications and achievements, but so many other applicants are likely to have a similar repertoire. To counteract this problem, ponder over what else makes you unique. Any minute accomplishment, hobby or ability could come in handy here.
Maybe you completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in school. Now you may look back at that as a task you completed to help your chances of getting into your dream university, or just something to do. For an employer reading your CV, this could show them that you’re determined, resilient, and a team player. Similarly, if you’re part of a sports team, that shows that you’re great at working in collaboration. If you regularly write for your own blog, that demonstrates commitment, passion and creativity. These extracurricular activities may not seem important or worth mentioning, but employers are likely to read between the lines. Try to relate these things back to the job at hand — that should always be the main focus of your CV.
3. Back up your claims
Anyone can say that they’re proficient at a skill. People lie on their CVs all the time — so it’s understandable for an employer to be a little wary if they see a claim without any evidence. Instead of just telling them that you’re great at something, give an example to demonstrate this. Think of a situation when you really utilised this skill and then explain what you did and the outcome of it. But remember — this should be succinct. If you waffle on for an entire paragraph about this one situation, you could come across as a bit of a flake. Back up your claim, but keep it brief. Instead of simply stating a fact, say “I did X and improved X”.
4. Get the basics right
You can fancy up your CV as much as you like, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got to have a strong base to work from. You’ve got to get the fundamental principles of CV writing right. To start, your CV should not be longer than two pages. The employer doesn’t want to read a novel about your life; they want to see that you’re qualified and feel enticed to welcome you in for an interview. Sure, you might have lots to say about yourself and your experiences, but the key to a stand-out CV is to keep all that information concise. Don’t bombard them with obscure language and ridiculously long words for the sake of it, either. You don’t want to alienate the employer — you want them to gain a greater understanding of who you are.
This next point may be a little obvious, but it’s actually a very common mistake. Make sure you proofread your CV before you send it anywhere. Grammatical and spelling errors are huge red flags for a lot of employers. It looks like you couldn’t be bothered to read over your writing or even take a few seconds to use spell check. You aren’t expected to be the greatest wordsmith to have ever walked the Earth, but you are expected to take pride in your application. This showcases who you are, after all. But good grammar isn’t the only way to make your CV read well — you should also make sure you format it neatly. Add clear headings above every section (e.g. ‘Qualifications’ and ‘Work Experience’) and list everything in a tidy fashion. Remember: you should always list the most recent events first and then work your way backwards in time.