CV tips

10Eighty’s Sarah Burgess chats to Jo Green and Gill Amos, career coaches at 10Eighty about all things CV! Here are their tips on how to make your CV stand out.

Your CV is essentially your marketing flair, like your personal brochure, so it’s really important. As a self-marketing tool a stand-out CV, bespoke to you, will open the door to opportunities.

Three clear points – it must be easy to read, an attractive looking document that draws the eye; so focus on layout and spacing, the general look is terribly important; finally, tailor your CV to your audience and ensure you use the key words and essential requirements for the job you are applying for are echoed in your CV.

Don’t forget that initial screening on CVs sent in for job applications probably just look at key words.

Start with the end in in mind – make sure your CV is picked out and when people open the document they want to know more, that the document is easy to read and the information a recruiter needs is easily accessible.

In terms of suiting a company, rather than a specific role, you can pick up a lot of information from a company’s website and press releases to ensure you match their values and the language you use. Look at the culture of the company and get a feel for how they operate but also try to make contact with someone who works there and get the inside touch and background information.

Your CV should have a profile statement at the top and this should be bold, using keywords but succinct, no padding. Show what you bring to the role and what you want to do next. Try to personalise your statement a little bit so it is not too generic; show a little personality.

Organizations want to know what value you will bring if they hire you so you need to demonstrate your energy and personality in your CV. Keep your CV personal statement brief and to the point.

Our graphic designer recommends you use a slightly larger font size for your personal statement.

The problem with putting in photo is that you lose space which you could use for more information. The same goes for graphics, if the industry you are in demands it you could consider using something but it must add to the CV. You could consider adding company logos to the CV.

In terms of keywords beware of over-using stock phrases. Jo doesn’t like the word ‘responsible’ and says you need to be more specific than this, use strong action words. Gill reinforces the notion of using strong action words because it conveys a sense of energy; she dislikes ‘good team player’ as it is too vague.

Should your CV and your LinkedIn profile show the same information? You need to make sure they show the same person, but they have different purposes so they don’t have to be exactly the same, the information should overlap but there is probably a higher level of detail on your CV. Youi need the right keywords on LinkedIn so you are found by recruiters but a CV should be tailored for each application.

Always send your CV in pdf format, they look the same for everyone, whatever device or platform they use; you know it will look professional at the other end.

Depending on your area of expertise you might produce a short resume and a second page which lists systems you use or deal sheet, or other very specific technical information. So the resume shows the human side and the appendix shows technical information.

If you are applying for an internal role keep your CV short and very specific to the role you want.

Different sectors have different recruiters and if you are a senior manager you may need to expand your CV to three pages.

Use the third person and in terms of tense use the gerund so talk about managing, initiating, developing.

What are the no-noes to keep off your CV? Don’t put your date of birth, age or marital status on the CV. And don’t add “References are available on request”!

Do not lie, do not invent and don’t over-exaggerate, you will be questioned and vetting may be deeper than you expect and this will wipe out your application.

Sarah thinks you don’t need to put your home address or phone number, just use your mobile number and perhaps state your general location.

Around hobbies, if you have hobbies this can be useful. Especially when you are applying to a smaller firm this may help give a potential employer a clue to what makes you tick. Again, be truthful and, hopefully interesting, a bland statement that you like reading is not too helpful; and rather than ‘sport’ it is useful to see whether they are team or individual sports. Volunteering is a good think to list.

A cover letter is an opportunity to express yourself slightly more individually and you can highlight and pick out key points that match the job specification. It is also a chance to personalise your application and helps you draw out how you meet the requirements of the job.

It is really important that your CV is a clear representation of you and reflects the role and organisation you are targeting.

  • Is your CV good to look at?
  • Is it bespoke?
  • Get it proofread by someone else and makes sense.
  • If you possibly can make it enjoyable to read.

Don’t ever use the ‘Apply for all’ button on jobs board, always tailor your application.

10Eighty is a leading outplacement and career transition provider. If you would like to understand how we can help you, please call 0207 9528 699 or email us on 

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10Eighty is a boutique, specialist provider of career coaching based in the UK. All of our clients are unique, and so our services are tailored to their individual needs. 10Eighty helps individuals to maximise their potential and helps organisations to harness that potential. We are experts in developing leadership capability and helping organisations increase employee engagement. Our service offerings include: Career Transition/Outplacement, Executive Coaching, Career Management, Leadership and Management Development and Team Effectiveness

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