Ten simple yet effective ways to make your CV stand out

By Hannah Kingston

Monday August 24, 2020

job-interview-cv

We may think that the trickiest part of getting a new job lies in making a good first impression at the interview stage, not making your CV stand out. 

However,  as the number of vacancies in the public sector continues to decline in the wake of the pandemic, securing your dream role is only going to become more competitive. 

The number of job vacancies in the public sector was 17,900 in May 2020, a decrease of 28.9% from February 2020 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.

At this point, you may have read and re-read your CV and you can’t identify areas for improvement. We’ve got you covered.

Here are 10 effective ways to make your CV stand out: 

  1. Understand the mindset of the person reading your CV
  2. Work on your CV structure 
  3. Outline your key skills and accomplishments at the start of your CV
  4. Write in the style of the job you want, not the one you have 
  5. Focus on your wins, not your responsibilities 
  6. Prove that you are ready for the job you are applying for
  7. Highlight your career development
  8. Customise your CV for the job 
  9. Light up your unique selling point 
  10. Proofread!

Understand the mindset of the person reading your CV

Understanding the mindset of the person who is reading your CV is absolutely essential when it comes to effectively making your CV stand out to hiring managers. 

Complete research around who the job poster may be as well or the person who will be conducting the interview. If you do have the ability to find out who those people are, write your CV with them in mind. Pretend that you are sitting across the table from them and highlight the information that you know that they would be impressed with. 

Work on your CV structure 

CV structure makes a difference. Remember that recruiters and hiring managers are sifting through a high volume of CVs each day. 

Don’t make this task more of a chore than it needs to be! Ensure that your contact details feature prominently at the top of your CV, then include a summary about you at the top. 

CVs act as written introductions, you want to ensure that you offer up a bit of colour before diving into what you’ve done and where you’ve done it. Bear in mind that recruiters and hiring managers may read your CV before you cover letter so you want to make it memorable from the start. 

Outline your key skills and accomplishments at the start of your CV

Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in what you have achieved for your previous employers in the broad scheme of your tenure. 

Include skills and back those up with statistics, points of development, your growth as an employee, and the company’s growth due to your hard work. 

Even if you are a humble person, you should be striving to highlight your achievements, what they meant for you, and how they helped your employer. This is your time to shine so leave embarrassment at the door and really go for it. 

Write in the style of the job you want, not the one you have 

If you want to effectively grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager, you need to emulate the type of person who is immediately suitable for the role. 

The less time on-boarding takes, the better. If you talk the talk, the person reading your CV will trust that you can walk the walk, giving you a better chance of getting your foot in the door for an interview. 

For more advice on how to make your CV stand out for an SES role, read: If SES is your goal, here’s some advice 

Focus on your wins, not your responsibilities 

We may believe that the minutiae of every day are interesting, if we don’t think our role and responsibilities are interesting, maybe we’re in the wrong job! 

Unfortunately, recruiters or hiring managers don’t find shopping list length tasks as interesting as we might think. Focus on your wins, not your responsibilities!

Outline your wins and the positive changes that you have imparted on your former companies. Showcase that you are self-motivated, passionate, and goal-driven. 

While you want to keep it concise, bullet points showcasing your wins will help to keep you front of mind for the people who are reviewing your CV. 

Prove that you are ready for the job you are applying for

Prove that you are ready for the job that you are applying for and that you are ready to hit the ground running when the time comes. 

Connect the dots of what a company is looking for with what you are currently capable of in your CV. In your cover letter, showcase that you have done the research, you understand what they want and need in a candidate, and how you will reach their expectations. 

Highlight your career development

Everyone loves a go-getter. Show off your career development, including internships and junior roles which highlight the early passion, where you have come from, and where you plan on going in the future. 

Some people don’t believe that they should include junior roles but it is essential to show the full trajectory of your career development. 

Customise your CV for the job 

This might seem like an obvious one, but in times of high enthusiasm (or desperation to find a new job as soon as possible), you may be tempted to blanket send generic CVs. 

This is a one step forward, two steps back approach. Every time you send a CV to a company, you are making your first impression, you only get one first impression! 

Again, it might be usual to imagine that you are sitting across the table from an interviewer selling your skill-set. You need to ensure that your CV is tailored for each specific company if you want it to stand out. 

The same can be said for the cover letter or the email you send through to the job poster, do your utmost to find out their name so the first touchpoint of communication is personalised. A little bit of effort goes a long way here. 

Light up your unique selling point 

Oftentimes, people do the hard sell on the cover letter and don’t include their unique selling point on their CV. 

Ensure that you include what makes you stand out from the crowd on both your CV and selling point. 

One of the first questions that is asked in most interviews is “Why do you want to work for us?” or “Why do you think you are suitable for the job?”.

You need to target this question before you get to the interview stage. 

Start your summary with “I believe I am the perfect candidate  for this role because I excel at X and Y…” (In this instance X and Y refer to the key requirements that the employer has outlined in the job description. 

Proofread!

Like point 9, this might seem like a simple and very obvious point, but once you hit send, there is no getting those typos back. 

Read and re-read your CV, ensure that it flows nicely, is short, concise, and reads well on the page. 

Read: Six things public servants need most during COVID-19 

Read (Premium): If SES is your goal, here’s some advice

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