How to give your CV the X-Factor

Impressive CV lady

Constructing the foundations of a CV is not necessarily too difficult to do. You’ve got your basic list of skills, qualifications and experience to list – as well as your achievements.

But what will set your CV apart from the rest?

How do you make yours stand out from the hundreds of other people applying?

Recognise what the employer wants to see

One of the most important aspects to consider when creating a CV is to know your audience. What is the employer looking for? Is there a particular skill or qualification that’s important?

Let’s say for example you are applying for a customer service role. This would typically mean that an employer is looking for someone with an outgoing personality who has a proven track record of excelling in a customer service environment.

Here’s your chance to show them why you would be perfect for the job, by highlighting skills and/or qualifications that relate to customer service, as well as previous work experience and results.

Your CV needs to be making a positive effort in showing how you are perfectly suited to the job. Don’t make it difficult for them and keep all the relevant good stuff hidden inside paragraphs or on the last page. Highlight every relevant aspect of your skills and history, and tailor your CV to the position you are applying for.

Show off your achievements and results

A common mistake made when creating a CV is underestimating the power of results and achievements, and failing to put them down with actual numbers and statistics.

Simply listing your responsibilities under ‘work history’ is not enough. Most of the CV’s that come through the post will do that – whereas yours needs to shine and stand out from the crowd.

Think back to all the times you achieved some fantastic results. It doesn’t matter how insignificant it seemed at the time, and make a list of everything you can come up with. Once the list is complete, take a few minutes to go back over everything and pick out anything relevant to present in your CV.

Dependent on your achievements, you may even be able to present numbers and figures. For example:

‘The new process I created saved everyone in the team over an hour each per day, resulting in a 5% increase in turnover on average per month.’

It could even be something as simple or seemingly insignificant as:

‘A customer was extremely angry and frustrated at not getting his food served quickly, so I calmly explained that we are very sorry and that we have a technical issue with our burger machine. I gave him a free soda which quickly diffused the situation. My patient and calm manner transferred over to the customer, and he even apologised for his outburst after his meal. Another happy customer!’

Try to keep your achievements and results short and to the point, as the employer doesn’t want you to waffle on too much. But ensure that they are clearly highlighted and have their own section separate to your responsibilities.

Many people undervalue their own past achievements in the workplace, as you may not have had a pat on the back or promotion in the past because of them. However, when it comes to presenting yourself to a future employer, these results are essential.

This brings us nicely onto the next point…

Don’t use clichés

Having seen countless CV’s over the years, I can absolutely confirm that clichés and buzzwords are one of the biggest turn offs when short listing for interviews.

Common clichés are:

Hard worker – well hopefully, yes! We wouldn’t hire someone who appears to be a slacker. But how can you prove you are hard working without us having never met or worked with you?

Team player – again, how do we know? What evidence do you have to support this statement?

Results orientated – you have to be! Otherwise how else would you get by in the workplace…?

Great communication skills – communication is a very broad term. Where do your ‘great communication skills’ lie? On the phone, by e-mail, in person…?

A couple of decades ago you may have gotten away with these clichés, but not in today’s fiercely competitive job market. You have to actually prove this with evidence of numbers and figures, or by giving examples of real life situations.

So it may not be a bad thing to actually state some of these buzzwords, but you better have the evidence to back it up!

Use an impressive CV template

Last but not least, choosing an impressive CV template can make a huge difference to the overall appearance of your application. We have 94 awesome Word CV templates for you to choose from and some of our favourites include:

Browse through our collection and download your choice, for free!

Have you seen these?

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