How to make your CV stand out

Applying for a new role can be tough. There is a lot of competition out there and as the effects of Covid-19 begin to unfold, things will get even tougher in the coming months. Making your CV stand out from the rest has never been so important.

A well written CV could be the difference between getting an interview and not being considered for a role. As a recruiter, I look through hundreds of CVs every week and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my top tips with you on how to make your CV stand out.

1. Structure

Most of our job adverts attract a high volume of applicants, which means we look through a lot of CVs. On average, we spend around thirty seconds skim reading a CV to determine if a candidate is suitable for a role. Therefore, it is vital that your CV stands out and grabs the reader’s attention. Make it easy for employers or recruiters to read your CV by using a clear structure that highlights your key skills and experience. At Alaska Black, we like to structure our candidate’s CVs in the following format:

  • Personal information (name, contact details, location and availability)
  • Personal profile (a summary about you and your experience)
  • Key skills (a summary of your key skills)
  • Education/qualifications (a summary of your education/qualifications)
  • Employment history (a summary of your work/volunteer experience)

Use headings, sub-headings and bullet points to structure your CV. Once you are happy with your format, stick with it so it is consistent throughout. Where applicable, break your sections up with paragraph spaces. Large paragraphs of text can be off putting and difficult for employers or recruiters to read.

2. Personal information

At the very top of your CV, you should include your personal information, such as your name, contact details (contact number and email address), location and availability. We encourage candidates not to include their date of birth or photo on their CV. Employers and recruiters should be able to understand your skills by your experience, not by your age and what you look like.

3. Personal profile

A personal profile is your opportunity to summarise you and your experience. It is also your chance to create a first impression with your reader, as it is the first thing that employers or recruiters will see when they look at a CV. Try to keep it short and highlight your most valuable experience.

4. Key skills

Summarising your key skills in bullet point form at the beginning of your CV, allows employers or recruiters to quickly assess if you are a good fit for the vacancy you are applying for. You are likely to go into more detail about these skills in your employment history through examples but summarising them before can help you stand out, especially if employers or recruiters are searching for candidates based on a particular skill set.

5. Education/qualifications

After your key skills, list your education/qualifications, starting with the most recent. Make sure you add the dates you achieved these and include any refresher courses attended.

6. Employment history

This is probably the most important part of your CV as it informs the reader what you have done and ultimately what skills and experience you have.

  • Start by listing your most recent role. This is likely to be the most relevant to the vacancy you are applying for, so make sure you explain your position in detail.
  • Use bullet points when you are stating your key responsibilities as this will make your CV easier to read.
  • Try and provide examples to demonstrate your key skills too as this backs up your statements.
  • You could also include your key achievements to help you stand out. Back your achievements up with figures as this is also a great way to demonstrate how you added value to the business.
  • If you are a candidate with a lot of experience, try and keep your previous roles concise and focus more on your most recent roles.
  • Finally, if you have any employment gaps, explain what they are, for example this could be due to studying, travelling or a career break.

Most of all, be truthful in your CV. It is important that your CV is open and honest.

A CV is just the starting point in your job search. Once you have updated your CV and are confident you are demonstrating your relevant experience, hopefully the interview requests will start coming. When you are at interview stage, have a read of our Interview advice article by my Director, Alex Ritchie.

I hope that this helps you build a more effective CV and more importantly land that next exciting opportunity.

Good luck!


Paula Brown (Recruitment Consultant – FMCG, Alaska Black)