How to Write a Stand-Out CV


When it comes to applying for a job these days, one of the most challenging aspects is making your CV stand-out among the intense competition. Something that is far easier said than done.

Today, I share with you some keys tips on how to make your CV stand out from a large crowd of applications and grab the attention of a hiring manager.

Before we begin, one of the most important points about a CV is grammar. Poor spelling and can be detrimental during the application process. You must keep a close eye when writing your CV that grammar and spellings are correct. This cannot be overstated!

The hiring manager spends an average of six seconds scanning a CV, so here are some vital tips to help you grab that manager’s attention inside those few seconds.

First Impressions Count – Don’t Be Flashy

One of the first decisions you will be required to make when writing your CV is choosing the style of font. Getting fancy with the text will make you stand out, but for all the wrong reasons. Stick to the tried-and-tested here, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri.

While on the topic of “flashy”, ensure your email when sending your CV looks professional. An unprofessional email could increase the odds of your CV being rejected by up to 76%.

Microsoft Word and Google offer some great CV templates and you also can also customise them to your own preference. This is a great way of indirectly demonstrating your personality. However, once again, be careful not to be too flashy.


To help sieve through the applications for a position, the vast majority of companies today use ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) – these AI-driven systems skim through applications that feature keywords relevant to the position.

With this in mind, it is crucial to read through the job description and tailor your CV to reflect these keywords as often as you can throughout. For example, if a job description requires the ability to use Microsoft Word, ensure that you include this on your CV.

Speaking of keywords, ATS will often highlight keywords to allow for ease of reading by the hiring manager. Therefore,  it is a good idea to include as many keywords in your opening bio – try and adopt the LinkedIn style.

Another useful tip is to research the company’s “About” section to find specific keywords and include them on your CV. This will demonstrate that you have researched the company and that you share their values.

Blogs can also provide great insight into the values of a company. Many companies will have a blog section discussing what they are trying to accomplish, the culture and tone and much more. This is all useful for tailoring your CV.

Make Sure It Reads And Flows Naturally

While using keywords is very important, it is also equally as important that the language you use in your CV reads well and seamlessly. In other words, be mindful not to overuse keywords to the point that it looks unnatural and that you used a thesaurus on every word!

No Two CVs Should Be The Same

While every CV you send shouldn’t be completely different, each should be different to the point that it includes keywords that are relevant to the position applying for. Alison Doyle describes the process well: “Update the keywords of your resumé to ensure that they match the company’s language.”

10 Years, Or Less

If it’s older than 10 years, leave it out. According to Ladino Bryson, who is known in the recruitment world as the “The Employment Therapist”, one of the most common mistakes applicants make is including career history that is outdated and irrelevant to the job applying for.

The only exception to this rule is if the job is completely relevant of shows natural progression. Otherwise, if it is more than 10 years old, take it off. If your career history consists of a wide variety of positions, cherry-pick according to the role you are applying for now.

Use the Hobbies/Interests Section Effectively

Another common mistake made by applicants is not fully utilising the “Hobbies/Interests” section of the CV. One of the most challenging aspects of writing a CV is ensuring it highlights that you not only as a great fit for a position but also having it reflect your personality well.

While employers want their next hire to fit the role well, they are also conscious of the individual fitting into the company’s culture. This is where the “Hobbies/Interests” section can be useful.

Rather than simply mentioning a few vague, throw-away activities that you enjoy doing in your spare time, phrase them in such a way that it reflects your personality.

For example, if a job description specifies the applicant requires “outstanding technical skills”, write something like “playing chess”, “writing and developing code in R” and “upgrading computer networks”. Simple things like this inform the reader that you are technically-competent and analytically-mind.

Keep it Short and Concise

One of the most off-putting things of any CV can be blocks of words. Use of bullet-points is far more inviting to the reader. With an average of six seconds of reading time to use, bullet-points are the most efficient way of getting as much detail in a very small window. Bullet-points are also a great way of training yourself to focus, a crucial skill for the interview phase.

Liam McNamara

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