How to Make Your CV Stand Out

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April 2019

Written by Adam Richardson (adam.richardson@arresourcing.com), Managing Director and Owner of AR Resourcing. Adam has 19 years’ experience recruiting professional and technical disciplines across the built environment industries.

During a typical recruitment process, your CV will likely be reviewed by many different people including line managers, senior directors, potential colleagues, HR professionals, recruiters… The purpose of your CV is simply to get you an interview with an employer or a call with a recruitment consultant so the easier it is for them to identify the information they need, the better your chances of progressing further.

PRESENTATION AND LAYOUT

On a CV, less is often more. If the page is cluttered readers will find it hard to identify and digest information. So:

  • keep your CV to two (or at most three) sides of A4;
  • use a simple font like Arial and also make sure the font size is large enough to read but not too big – 10pt is my preference;
  • don’t be afraid of white space to break up the sections;
  • use bullets to list your responsibilities and detail your achievements making them easy to identify and absorb;
  • use bold text or capitals to create headers. Avoid underlining and italics; and
  • be consistent i.e. all headings Arial 14pt capitalised; all body text Arial 10pt; each responsibility bulleted; each achievement bulleted.

STRUCTURE

A clear structure is critical to helping the reader find the information they are looking for. The structure below is a proven one. Starting at the top of page 1:

  • Contact details: FULL NAME (plus initials from relevant qualifications) | Full postal address  | Mobile and landline |  Personal email address
  • Profile: 2-3 lines of your skills, knowledge and expertise.
  • Objective: 2-3 line overview of what you are looking for from your next role and the skills and experience you will bring to the employer.
  • Achievements: from your recent career select two or three key achievements, ideally over recent years that are relevant to the role you are applying for.
  • Career summary: in chronological order for each role detail:

Job title | Company name | Date from – to

Key responsibilities (one per bullet);

Key achievements (one per bullet).

  • Amount of detail required: Roles from more than 10 years ago can be summarised and roles undertaken within the last 5 years need the highest level of detail.
  • Education and professional development: include any degree or A-levels gained as well as any further professional qualifications, such as MCIPS, MILT, MRICS, Prince2 etc.
  • Other details: list anything else that will help your application, such as computer applications; driving licence; languages etc.
  • Interests: give an insight into what you do in your free time so your interviewer has something less formal to chat about.
  • References are available on request.
  • Footer: in the footer of every page include your name, email and the page number.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Achievements are critical to catch a prospective employer’s attention. For every role, you should include 2-3 achievements that illustrate your ability to hit targets and your contribution to your employer. For your most recent role you should include 4-5 achievements.

Choose achievements that relate to a variety of targets and both short- and long-term objectives. When articulating your achievements use facts and figures.

UPDATING YOUR CV

You should update your CV every six months or whenever you get a promotion, new responsibilities or complete training.

In recruitment time is critical. In the current market, some employers are moving from the point of accepting CVs to making an offer in under a fortnight. Small, regular updates to your CV will mean that you are always in a position to apply if your perfect role comes up.

When we explain to candidates that an employer has chosen not to interview them because they lacked skills or experience, too often they tell us they simply forgot to include those details because they had to rush updating their CV.

AND FINALLY…

Having put the effort in to make a standout CV that you can easily adapt for the sector or role we would like to offer you two pieces of advice.

  1. Double-check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Small mistakes have a BIG negative impact, so it’s worth getting a second pair of eyes to review your CV before you send it anywhere.
  2. Once it is perfect keep copies of your CV in two different places so that you always have a back-up.

If you would like feedback on your CV then please email me and our team would be happy to take a critical (but friendly) look.

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