What Can I Do To Improve My CV: 31 Top Tips to Write the Perfect CV

CV Checklist
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Your CV is so important.

If you compare 10 CV’s, you will very quickly spot the good ones from the bad ones.

Of those 10, 3 might get an interview. You need to ensure your CV is in the top 3.

When you are recruiting, you get lots and lots of CV’s. Managers will look for any excuse to bin some of them to cut down on your reading. I’m not sure the people applying are fully aware of this.

Would you be impressed quickly scanning through your CV?

Go through the checklist below. If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all of the below questions, you stand an excellent chance of being in that top 3.

What Can I Do To Improve My CV: Format/Grammar

1) Is your CV no longer than two pages?

2) Is the formatting used consistent throughout?

3) Are you sure there are no spelling/grammar mistakes?

(Have you read it 3 times aloud to check for any? When you skim read quietly you miss little mistakes)

4) Have you removed all pronouns from your CV?

Instead of saying ‘I managed a team of 2’, say ‘Managed a team of 2’

5) Have you outlined some achievements for the most recent roles?

6) Have you used descriptive terms ending with ‘ed’

i.e. Managed, Supervised, Controlled, Led, etc

All language used on your CV should be in the past tense.

7) Does your CV have a clear layout, with plenty of white spaces?

Does it look easy to read, and not text heavy and cluttered?

8) Is your CV written in an easy to read font? i.e. Times New Roman, Arial, minimum size 11

Do not use italics, underline or coloured font, bold can be used in subheadings.

Do not use more than two fonts, I would suggest just using one.

Larger fonts can be used for subheadings to make them stand out better.

9) Do your contact details not take up too much space at the top of the page?

You should only include name, phone number, email and a link to a Linkedin page. Your Address, and Date of Birth are not important.

You can put your name in bigger font so it is more memorable to the reader.

Ensure your email address is professional i.e. your name@gmail.com, instead of a nickname or a joke email address.

10) Have you used capitalisation correctly?

Spellcheck often won’t pick up on this, so make sure you only capitalise what you should i.e. University of Exeter

CV Checklist 1
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What Can I Do To Improve My CV: Readability

11) Do you have a short, punchy, summary at the top of your CV?

This should summarise your experience and skills, and talk about three attributes you have that they would want.

12) Have you made sure that anyone can understand the info provided?

(no acronyms or language specific to one company, and the equivalent of any foreign qualifications provided)

13) Have you used bullet points for your achievements/responsibilities?

(they should be short and punchy, ideally one-liners)

14) Have you eliminated all needless words?

(i.e. are the sentences as short and as punchy as possible?)

15) Is your CV easy to skim read? Do the key points jump out?

16) Do you have extra-curricular activities at the bottom of your CV?

(make sure you include any scholarships, awards, team projects, sports achievements, voluntary work, university societies)

17) Are there no gaps in your history? Have you accounted for all periods of time?

(Make sure the reader won’t wonder what you were doing at any point in your career)

18) If you are not from the country where the job is based, have you detailed your visa status? 

19) Have you avoided using any cliches? i.e. good networker, quick learner, etc

18) Do you headings stand out? Can you easily pick them out when skimming the document?

20) Does your CV look good when printed off?

21) Have you started with your most recent experience and worked backwards?

CV Checklist 2
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What Can I Do To Improve My CV: How to Make It Stand Out

22) Have you clearly demonstrated evidence of skills outlined in the job specification?

(You’d be surprised how many applications will just be generic CV’s, and not tailored to the job spec in anyway)

23) Have you quantified your achievements/responsibilities?

i.e. Responsible for £20m Budget, Reduced time spent on task/activity by 20%, Increased sales by 5%, etc.

24) Is the title of your CV tailored to the job you are applying for?

i.e. ‘Ann Smith CV – Project Manager with 10 years experience in IT projects’

25) Does your CV contain the 5 most used words in the job description?

i.e. the same keywords will come up again and again in the job description. If you can ensure these are in your CV then this will attract the hiring managers’ attention.

26) Does your CV use positive language?

i.e. achieved, developed, created, proactively, etc.

27) Can you easily answer questions on everything on the 1st page of your CV?

28) Is the most info on your CV in relation to your most recent two roles?

29) Have you only mentioned the grade achieved in your degree if it’s good?

i.e. Upper 2nd class honour (2.1) or above

30) For your older roles, are they covered in no more than 2-3 bullet points?

31) Have you read 5+ articles on how to make your CV stand out?

What Can I Do To Improve My CV: Recap

After going through the above checklist, how many did you answer ‘Yes’ to? You need to be getting above 26 to ensure your CV is in the top three CV’s that a hiring manger will bring forward for an interview.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with anyone who would be interested.

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2 thoughts on “What Can I Do To Improve My CV: 31 Top Tips to Write the Perfect CV”

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