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July 24th, 2017 | Sterling

Best Practices to Make Your CV Stand Out

We have all been there—staring at a blank word document that would eventually be a digital representation of ourselves and the first impression for our dream jobs. In just 500 words, employers collect enough information from you to decide whether to continue with the application process or eliminate you from further consideration. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this seemingly simple piece of paper. It is never a bad idea to invest some extra time into editing or restructuring your CV—it just might give you that extra edge over your competition. Whether you’re a first-time CV writer for an entry-level position or are simply looking for some fresh insight for improving your CV, Sterling would like to share with you some basic tips for creating a CV as well as some suggestions that can help your CV stand out.

We consulted with Sterling’ Senior Recruiter Sara Balaban, who after five years in the field has an endless supply of advice on how to craft the ideal CV.

To Sara, a CV is not only a summary of your professional experiences but also an initial selling point for convincing her why you are the ideal applicant. She related, “I want to speak with candidates that I can get a sense of who they are without even having a conversation with them yet—those who strongly articulate their accomplishments and carefully position themselves in a saturated candidate market.”

Here are some helpful guidelines Sara shared with us for achieving that idyllic CV:

CV Format

The CV format mantra: Be clear, concise and to the point. Strong CVs give a brief preview of professional experience in one to two pages.  Confusing layouts and verbiage distract from the purpose of a CV and ultimately lower a recruiter’s ability to sift through your valuable information. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use an appropriate CV template and font when structuring your CV.
  • List your past experiences in reverse chronological order.
  • Adjust your margins to .5 or one inch to better utilize space and limit to a single page. Strive to not exceed 4-5 bullet points per position.

What to Include on a CV

Applicants new to the job field may struggle to find information appropriate for their CV, while for others, limiting a CV to one page is not an easy task. Whichever category you fall in, try to tailor your CV to the job field and position you’re applying for. Taking the time to adjust your objectives in line with the position you’re applying for deserves a gold star in many recruiters’ books. Employers want to see that you are interested in this specific job, not just jobs in general. Below are a few items that should be included when writing a CV:

  • If you are new to the job market, include volunteer, extracurricular, computer skills and internship experience. Recruiters are eager to see any previous involvement in various fields that may provide you with qualities necessary for that position.
  • Connect to your LinkedIn profile. You can include this link with your other contact information.
  • Use keywords appropriate for the position you’re applying for.
  • Include descriptive action verbs to showcase your responsibilities and accomplishments, but also quantify your experience when appropriate.

Make Your CV Stand Out

After you have organised your CV in a neat and clear format and inputted your information, there are still some essential steps you mustn’t forget. Recruiters are likely only to skim your CV initially to check for errors, so it’s in your best interest to ensure your CV is perfectly polished before sharing it with your network.

  • Be detail oriented and careful. Check and double check your work to make sure there is no inconsistent language or no grammatical errors. If your work experience was in the past, keep your language in the past tense. Also, if you choose to edit your CV for a specific job, make sure to send the right CV to the right company! To Sara, there is nothing more off-putting than receiving a CV that states someone’s interest in a different position because of a lack of precision and care.
  • Be honest. Recruiters have read thousands of CVs and are trained to pick up on jargon and fabricated exaggerations. Between that and an inevitable background check, 58% of employers have uncovered a lie on a CV. It is better to be honest and eager to learn new skills on the job than to be unfairly hired for a job you are not qualified for.
  • Less is more. CVs are only the first step in the hiring process for a reason. An interview is the time to go more in depth on your experiences. Refrain from long descriptive paragraphs or including every odd job you’ve ever had, like that paper round you had as a kid.

Remember, these are just recommendations and not strict rules. Adapt your CV to best represent you and your aspirations. And most importantly, be confident in your abilities. With time, your CV will grow and can eventually help land you that ideal job. Sterling wishes you luck in all of your job search endeavors, and we invite you to visit our blog for more tips to help with the hiring process.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.