CV help: increase the odds of securing that interview

Employer looking at a CV in a job interview

Got as far as just typing your name? Limited jobs out there for your industry and need your CV to make you stand out from the crowd? Sending off loads of applications but just not getting the interview invites?

If this is you then look no further – we’ve put together its top tips to help you towards writing a sizzler of a CV and securing a hot job!

You only get one chance:

CVs are like football penalties. You only get one shot to score. The purpose of your CV should be to create enough interest to secure you an interview. Employers’ may have hundreds of CV’s to look through, so how can you stand out and show you are the right person for the job?

How to stand out from the crowd

Remember, your CV will usually be responsible for creating the first impression that a potential employer forms of you and you only get one chance.

  • If you are using an old CV, re read and spice it up. You should continually update your CV with new skills learned, training courses, new responsibilities etc to keep ahead of the game.
  • Use a stylish CV template, preferably one that has been designed to pass through automated software effectively. There is a good selection of free CV templates here.
  • Be objective – if you were the employer, would you invite you for an interview from what you can read on your CV?
  • One CV suits all is a definite no-no. This may be one of the reasons you are not securing the interviews if your CV is too broad and generic. You will need to put together more than one CV if you intend to apply for different types of jobs across different industry sectors.
  • Employers need to see how your experience, knowledge and skills sets match the job advertised. They may not always be able to make a connection so you must make it clear for them. If you have a list of person specifications and role responsibilities, ensure you refer to as many as possible – pad out a previous role if it demonstrates matching responsibilities or the skills needed, use key words they use in your personal profile to clearly identify to the employer that you are the right person for the job and must be invited to attend an interview.
  • For some, writing a CV can be a daunting experience – having to look at yourself objectively and identify strengths, abilities and personal attributes. Others can go the other way and treat it as a platform to state how wonderful they are! Remember to find a balance between the two. Be informative and realistic and look at yourself on a professional level; modestly not boastfully. If you do struggle with this, why not ask close friends or family members to describe you in three words to give you a helping hand. Friendly, organised and responsible are all great key words to integrate into your CV.

Your CV should show that you have –

  • The right experience needed for the job
  • The right skills needed for the job
  • The right personal qualities


The length of your CV will depend on your experience but you should try to keep it as short as possible. The amount of information a reader absorbs decreases with each page, any more than 2 or 3 pages becomes pointless. A CV should never exceed 4 pages.

  • Go for white or cream on good quality A4 paper. Choose a clear typeface and black ink.
  • Name and personal contact details should be at the top of the front page.
  • You can use a personal profile to give an overview of your skills, personal attributes etc. This should only be a few lines.
  • Work History and Education comes next. Start work history with your last or current position and ensure you give dates employed, job title and briefly specify your main duties and responsibilities.
  • Also provide any further education, qualifications and training courses attended that would be of interest to the role.
  • Hobbies and interests is always a difficult one. Be positive and do list some – this is where employers get a feel for the real you.
  • References. If you do include these it may be an idea to write to be asked permission before they are contacted. If you do not wish to disclose these on your CV, include that References are available on request.

Top CV tips!

  • Ensure your contact details are on the top of the first page
  • Ensure your CV contains relevant key words for clients who search huge CV databases
  • If your CV is long, highlight the skills most relevant to the job you are applying for, go into details on relevant experience and summarize everything else
  • Be positive, aim to emphasise your strengths, experience and ability to adapt to challenging and changing environments in the most positive manner
  • Assemble all the facts first and divide them into responsibilities and experience with achievements bulleted under main text
  • Edit out the superfluous or negative points
  • Make sure your CV is proof read and checked for spelling and grammatical errors. Ask a third party to comment on its overall appeal and message
  • Use positive words to describe your personal attributes i.e. adaptable, accurate, hard working, reliable, confident etc
  • Use positive words to describe your responsibilities and achievements i.e. achieved, implemented, completed, generated etc. See this list of action verbs to help.

What to avoid

  • DON’T leave any gaps in your work experience, if you have had a break say why. Employers can see long periods of unemployment as a negative.
  • DON’T lie, your qualifications and work history may be checked by an information service. The truth will always prevail
  • DON’T list every one day training courses you have attended
  • DON’T include a photo unless it has been requested
  • DON’T be tempted to use graphics or stylised fonts in the CV format. It can have the reverse effect to what you set out to achieve
  • DON’T include salary details unless otherwise stated.

Along with details such as your nationality, marital status, political or religious beliefs, photos of yourself should not be added to your CV. When it comes to your resume, always consider whether the information you’re adding is relevant or beneficial to your job application. A CV should address your experience and skills in an articulate, concise and professional manner, so it’s about knowing what to include in a resume that is of added value. For this reason, it’s recommended to avoid adding a photo on your CV.

Robert Half.

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