Proven tips to make your CV stand out and pass the seven second test:
You may have the best qualifications and experience for the job, but if your CV doesn’t catch the attention of the hiring manager in the first 7 seconds, it’s likely you won’t even get an interview.
With the competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to ensure your CV stands out from the crowd. So, how can you do that?
1. Make it short and sweet
Over the years, the pressure on recruiters to read through hundreds of CVs for jobs has increased, resulting in less time being spent on prospective employees’ initial applications. Therefore, your CV should be about storytelling and being able to communicate clearly why you’re perfect for the job.
Don’t make your CV too long and wordy; instead, focus on one or two key skills or experiences that will set you apart from other candidates. Your CV should be no longer than one page or two pages if you’ve got more than 10 years of experience.
It’s also likely that recruiters will read through multiple applications during the hiring process, so make sure your CV stands out by including only relevant and impressive information about yourself and your professional experiences.
2. Use strong verbs and action-oriented language
There is no hard-and-fast rule for CV writing. However, one of the effective CV writing tips is using strong verbs and action-oriented language.
Strong verbs are verbs that indicate something being done or completed. For example, “created” implies a lot more than “create.” A strong verb also emphasizes what you want to convey in your CV, making it more likely that employers will pick up on it.
Action-oriented language is a term used by writers to describe sentences which help readers visualize what they read. For example:
“I wrote a software program that was used by 10 million people worldwide in just three years.”
This sentence shows the reader your skill and what you’re capable of as a talented programmer. Verbs like “managed,” “directed” and “supervised” are passive and don’t convey the same level of energy that verbs like “created” or “developed” do.
3. Highlight your achievements
Highlighting your achievements is a great way to show that you can do the job and what you’re capable of. When writing about your achievements, highlight any important milestones and achievements that have contributed to your success.
For example, if you have been responsible for an increase in sales by 10%, write about this achievement as well as how much it means to you. This will help show that you are driven by results and are passionate about what you do.
Don’t be afraid to include more than one achievement per section. This will help make your CV stand out from others and show that you have more than just a job history.
This is where you can use bullet points to draw attention to the key points of your career history. Gotten any awards or titles that are relevant to the role you’re applying for? Highlight them too!
4. Use a simple, easy-to-read design
Your CV should be professional, but it’s also important that it’s easy to read. If you’re looking for a job, you want to make sure that any recruiter can see your skills and qualifications in an instant.
You can do this by using a simple, easy-to-read design. Keep things clear and concise. Use headers and subheaders (also known as white space), and bullet points whenever possible. Avoid excessive use of jargon or complex formatting.
If you’re applying for an entry-level position, it should be clear what kind of experience you have and what kind of skills make you stand out from the crowd. This helps ensure that your CV is easily understood by recruiters and potential employers alike.
5. Tailor your CV for each job
Looking to make your CV stand out in the midst of other hundreds of CVs? Then, you should tailor it for each job you apply to. This will ensure that it’s relevant and targeted towards the role you’re applying for.
Your CV is your sales letter, and it’s essential to stand out from the crowd, and the first step is to identify the type of job you are applying for.
If you are applying for a technical role in a big company, for example, your CV needs to be focused on this area and include only technical skills. Or assuming you are applying for a sales job with a small business, you need to focus on the skills that will help you achieve this goal.
Tailoring your CV for each job is not just about personalizing the content and formatting, but also about understanding what employers are looking for and then tailoring your application accordingly.
6. Use keywords
Another one of the effective CV writing tips is using relevant keywords in your CV. This will help potential employers find your profile more easily when they’re searching through hundreds of CVs.
Use phrases and keywords from the job description to personalise your CV, such as “key responsibilities”, “relevant experience” and “skills”.
For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, use the words ‘marketing’, ‘strategy’, ‘social media’ and ‘communication’. If you’re applying for an accountancy role, use words like ‘audit’, ‘accounts’, ‘cost control’ and ‘financial analysis’.
7. Proofread your CV
The key to crafting a good CV is to proofread it multiple times before you send it out. A few mistakes can be forgiven if they are minor, but it will only take a few mistakes to make you look unprofessional.
For example, if you use “is,” “are” or “to be” incorrectly, you’re risking losing out on those precious seconds when a hiring manager decides whether or not to read more of your CV.
Be sure to proofread each page of your CV. Check for spelling errors, grammatical errors and punctuation problems. This is particularly important when it comes to dates and times, as these can easily be misinterpreted.
Make sure that any contact details are correct and that you haven’t typed in something different from what you actually typed out.
Things you shouldn’t include on your CV
Crafting a CV is no easy task. With ever-increasing competition for jobs, it is important to ensure that your CV stands out from the crowd. Knowing what not to include on your CV can be just as important as knowing what to include.
Below are things that should be avoided when writing or updating your CV, so you can give yourself the best chance of success when applying for jobs.
- Unprofessional language
- Incorrect or outdated contact information
- An unprofessional email address
- Irrelevant personal references
- Irrelevant or outdated experiences
- An objective statement
- Clichés or generic language
- Skills or qualifications you truly do not have
- Details about salary requirements or expectations
- A headshot or photo of yourself unless it is requested
- Too long sentence structure and technical jargon
- Hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with the vacancy
- Negative comments about former employers or colleagues
- Personal data such as age, height, weight, religion, nationality etc.
- Superfluous design elements such as fancy fonts, colours or text effects
Ultimately, crafting a CV that stands out is essential if you want to make a lasting impression within the brief 7-second window your potential employer has to read through your CV.
By taking the time to understand your potential employer, tailoring your CV for each job, and crafting a compelling narrative about your abilities in a way that highlights your skills, experiences, and accomplishment, you can make sure that your CV stands out from the crowd.
Are you an IT specialist looking for your dream job?
At, we carry an extensive list of available jobs at our clients’ companies across Europe and beyond. You can take a look at the roles we’re currently recruiting for or contact us if you’ve got what it takes.