You’ve just seen a posting for a job opportunity. You know you would be great for the role, so you upload your CV and apply. But then you get an email saying your application isn’t being taken further – or, worse than that, you never hear anything at all. Does this sound familiar?

If so, you’re probably falling at the first hurdle: your CV. This is the first point of contact between you and a recruiter. It not only has to make a last impression and sing your praises, it also has to stand out from the hundreds of other CVs recruiters are sifting through. As experts in CV writing services, we can help. Continue reading to learn about all the essential elements of a standout resume so that you can make the job hunt easier, compel employers and get that interview.

What makes a great CV?

1. It’s tailored to the specific job posting

Perhaps the most important CV writing tip is to create different versions for different roles. The most common mistake job hunters make is to assume that one CV fits all job applications. Not so. Different employers will be looking for different skills and experiences, so it’s crucial to tailor your CV to every specific job description you apply for.

Take time to re-read the job posting and fully acquaint yourself with the selection criteria. Use this to address the specific challenges and skills required by the role so that with every CV you submit, you’re demonstrating the value you will bring to that specific company.

Knowing what unique skills the role requires will ensure that your CV ticks all of the employer’s boxes and makes it to the shortlist of applicants. 

2. It targets relevant keywords

Another crucial way you should be tailoring your CV is by identifying keywords in the job description and weaving these throughout your resume. That’s because in today’s online world, everything runs on an algorithm – including job postings.

Applicant tracking system (ATS) algorithms narrow down the pool of candidates so that recruiters only receive the most relevant applications. The main way it does this is through keywords. The ATS scans CVs for keywords that match the requirements listed in the job description and uses this information to rank CVs according to how relevant they are.

This is why submitting a generic CV for every job posting is fruitless. Oftentimes, it won’t even reach the recruiter. To ensure your application gets past the ATS, highlight keywords and phrases used in the job description and weave these throughout your CV.

3. It has a strong personal summary

According to research, it only takes recruiters six to eight seconds to tell if a CV is right for the position. That’s a very small window, so you need to pique their interest quickly and compel them towards you. This is achieved with a strong personal summary. 

A well-written CV summary should showcase your skills and achievements, concisely outline your area of expertise and, most importantly, highlight your unique selling point. It’s your opportunity to pitch yourself and say exactly why you’re right for the role. 

Here’s what not to include in your CV summary:

  • Bland, generic statements
  • A summary of your career history
  • What you’re looking for in an employer 

Instead, talk about what you do better than anyone else, include a tangible example of an achievement that demonstrates the value you’d bring to the company and make clear exactly what it is you do. 

4. Your achievements are quantified

One thing standout CVs do exceptionally well is paint a picture. Don’t just use it as a space to tell recruiters about your achievements – use it as an opportunity to show them. 

Reinforce your achievements with real-world examples that support your claims and demonstrate the impact of them. For example, instead of just saying you increased revenue for your previous company, demonstrate it with specific figures and examples, like the results you delivered, what you did that was successful and so on. 

Doing this will paint you as a success story. This allows recruiters and employers to more accurately assess the scope of your skills and competencies, and begin seeing the value you would bring to the company.

5. It has a clean design

The format of your CV is just as important as the content. Hirers prefer a simple, clean design. While you may be tempted to add flashy fonts or artistic borders in an effort to make your CV stand out, it could actually make you seem like you’re overcompensating for a lack of experience.

The reader needs to be drawn to the most important information on your CV, and good formatting does this very easily. Too much glitz and glam could even prevent your CV from passing through the ATS. Don’t rename your sections and ensure your format is ATS-compatible, e.g. by using a chronological format. 

Remember that recruiters could be looking at hundreds of CVs a day, so they will prioritise readability and simplicity over creativity. Use a maximum of two fonts and choose a simple, clear layout. 

6. It’s contained to two pages

In one survey, it was revealed that 91% of recruiters think two pages is the ideal length for a CV. If you’re fresh out of university and have less experience, keeping it to a single page is also perfectly fine. The issue comes when you surpass that two-page sweet spot.

If you have years of experience, it may be tempting to talk about everything in detail. But doing this can put recruiters off as it makes your CV laborious to read. Write concisely, stick to the main facts, and ensure everything you’re adding is meaningful and demonstrates value. 

You also don’t have to include every moment of your career history. For example, it’s probably not crucial that you include that part-time job you had when you were sixteen. Curate your career history so that it’s current and relevant. 

Invest in a CV writing service

If, after doing all this, your CV is still failing to get you into that interview room, it’s worth investing in a professional CV writing service.

At City CV, we match you with an expert consultant who will translate your skills, experience and career needs into an impactful CV that grabs the attention of recruiters.

Start transforming your career today with personalised support. Alternatively, talk to our friendly team on +44 20 7100 6656 to find out exactly how we can help.