When hiring for a role employers see hundreds if not thousands of CVs. It shouldn’t be any surprise to you that they don’t spend much time looking over each and every one of them. But is your CV is equipped for that kind of glance over? Or have you written a 5 page CV that covers every, single, detail of your education and employment history?
If you have then you are going to need to spend a lot of time cutting away at your CV. Filing it down so that it only contains the necessary details.
With a CV it’s about quality over quantity
Once you have done that you can focus on the little things that everyone else overlooks. And it’s often these smaller alterations that help your CV stand out.
If you have some spare time we have made a list of CV hacks that can make a big difference when it comes to getting your curriculum vitae seen.
How much time have you got?
File naming – Don’t save your document as “CV”. Instead name the document “[FIRST NAME] [LAST NAME] CV”. Whoever is looking through the applications will likely have hundreds stored in a file. If yours is just named ‘CV’ it doesn’t give much indication as to who’s CV it actually is.
Font – Pick a simple font that’s easy to read. Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Arial are all great choices. Your CV might not look as fancy but whoever is checking it over will find it easier to read.
File saving – As well as altering the way your CV is named make sure you save it in a format that can be opened on most computers like PDF.
Link right – Anything that can be linked on your CV should be. Chances are it will be opened on a computer, so make the things that need to be clickable like your email address and LinkedIn profiles links.
Cut out the years - If you are a few years out of university remove the year you graduated. Employers don’t care that much about the year you left university if you have been working in the industry for a while. It reduces space and ensures that you aren’t going to be discriminated based on your age.
Name and contact details – This is such a simple change that can make a massive difference. Make sure that your name and contact details are obvious on your CV. We recommend placing both these details at both the top and the bottom of your application. That way if an employer likes your application they can get in touch straight away.
Education below experience – If you are a while out of university your employer will care more about your past few years experience doing the job than they will your education. Put work experience before your education achievements.
Include numbers – If you are able to show achievements through numbers, do it. Potential employers like to hear if you have been able to increase profits by 30% or that you reduced churn by 5%.
Add the numerical form – Got a lot of numbers in your CV? Work through and change all of them to numerical form rather than the written form. It makes it a lot easier to spot when speed reading.
Read it out loud – If the reviewer likes the look of your CV they are going to read through it properly. Make sure that it flows well by reading it out loud a couple of times. This will help you catch out any nasty punctuation errors too.
Lose the acronyms – Not all employers know what every acronym means. They might know the obvious ones, but you may have a few more obscure qualifications. Write out the full name and the acronym at least once so that the reader knows what you are referring to.
Cut out the clichés – “I like socialising and spending time with family” – so does everyone else. Try and avoid including these sorts of CV clichés because a reviewer will be reading them a whole lot. We aren’t saying not to include hobbies. But only include them if they are in some way relevant to the role.
Include professional social profiles – If you have a professional Twitter account in which you follow relevant industry people and communicate regularly with others in your industry include it in your CV. It’s a great way for reviewers to see that you actively keep up with goings on in the industry. Which they love.
No more than 10 bullet points – Recruiters don’t have time to read through 30 bullet points covering your skills. Try to keep them concise and to a minimum so that when glancing through the CV they can quickly see your main skill-set.
Get spacing right – Studies have shown that people find reading a document easier when spacing is set to around 1.15x the font size. To do this in Word head to ‘Page Layout > Paragraph’ then change the ‘Line Spacing’ to ‘Multiple’ and the ‘At’ to 1.15.
Update skills – It might have been a while since you last had a chance to adjust your CV. Have a think about any new skills you might have acquired in that time and make sure you add them to your list.
Group certain skills – If possible group your skills into categories. This should make it easier for whoever is reading your CV to pick out the skills that they are most interested in.
Cut out the visuals – Good visuals can make a CV stand out. But they can also be detrimental too. Your CV doesn’t need a fancy border – it just needs to convey what you are good at and your achievements quickly.
Spell check. And then do it again – Nothing puts an employer off more than spelling mistakes. Make sure that yours contains zero errors. Spend as much time as you can checking for mistakes and put your CV into a tool like Grammarly to catch out sneaky grammatical errors that you might have missed.
Cloud word generator - Potential employers often only scan through a CV. This means that they only usually pick up on a certain number of words. Run your CV through a cloud word generator to see which words are most frequently used. These will be the words any potential employer will associate your CV with.
Give it a header that pops – If you want to grab attention quickly make a header that stands out. You don’t have to be a design whizz-kid either. There are some great free image editing tools like Pixlr that will help you put a professional looking CV header together.
Add a career objective – One of the most common interview questions is “Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?” – That’s because employers like people with an end goal. People who are working towards something. Pre-empt this question and add a career objective to your CV.
Inspect your CV above the fold – Once the CV is saved as a PDF open it up on your computer. Look at how it opens above the fold (the top half of the page). This is what the employer will see first. Does it look messy? Do your key skills stand out? Can they see your name!?
Lose the overused adjectives – Read through your CV and pick out some of the more common CV adjectives like “experienced”. Spend some time reworking these into more detail using stronger language that better describes your abilities.
Consistent formatting – Are all the headers in your document the same font and size? Are the indents and bullet points used in your CV all the same? Make all the formatting consistent. It’ll help make your CV look tidier.
Pick a colour – If you want to add a bit of flair to your CV font colours are a great way to do it. Don’t overkill it, though. Use colours in headers or certain words to help them stand out. Consider the colour you use carefully too – they can influence a reader’s mindset. For instance, red is often associated with strength and energy. Blue associated with intelligence and trust. You can read more about colour psychology here.
Space fillers – Straight out of university? You might be worried about filling your CV without having any relevant experience. Think about any volunteer work or work you have done in your spare time and include it. Even if it isn’t directly relevant, it’ll help bulk out your CV and give your potential employer a better picture of who you are.
Tailor to each job – Every job you apply for is going to have different requirements. If you have a list of potential job opportunities spend some time tailoring your CV so that it’s a perfect fit for the job you’re applying to.
A cover letter – Again, if you have the time create a tailored cover letter for each application you send off then do it. The CV is designed to give a brief overview of you and your abilities. The cover letter is the chance for potential employers to get to know you as a person.
One page rule – You might be tempted to include as much detail as possible in your CV. Don’t do it. This will only lead to you having a CV that’s 4 pages long and remember: recruiters don’t spend a long time looking. Spend as much time as you can cutting away your CV until it’s down to two pages.
Have someone else check it over – Ask a friend or family member to spend some time reading through your CV. This is a good for a couple of reasons: They’ll be able to give advice on things that might not need to be included or things that you’ve missed off and they will be able to spot any spelling or grammatical errors. Even better would be to ask someone who doesn’t know you that well to read through it. They can give you an unbiased take on the impression your CV gives.
Shorten descriptions of tasks. Focus on accomplishments – A recruiter wants to know what you have achieved so spend more time bulking out your achievements rather than the technicalities of your previous role.
Include a quote from previous employer – This might actually take you a lot less than 20 minutes, but we have included it here just in case you don’t already have a quote. Ask a previous employer to sum up your work attitude in a sentence and include this in your CV.
Get a reference point – Ask friends, colleagues, and family members if you can see their CV and take inspiration from the things they have included and their style. This isn’t cheating. CVs are very individual things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for ideas elsewhere.
Build your own template – Many applicants will have succumbed to the temptation of using an online CV template when putting theirs together. You might be too. We recommend against this. Create your own template and design to guarantee that your CV doesn’t look like every other applicant and you stand out from the crowd.