5 Simple CV writing hacks that will make you stand out

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Getting the job interview in today's competitive job search environment means creating a CV that stands out in the crowd. Recruiters and employers see hundreds of CV’s for any particular position, so making sure yours leaves a lasting impression is critical for success.


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Getting the job interview in today's competitive job search environment means creating a CV that stands out in the crowd. Recruiters and employers see hundreds of CV’s for any particular position, so making sure yours leaves a lasting impression is critical for success.

ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, explains, “Digital transformation has filtered down into every aspect of the business environment – the recruiting process included. This means that out-dated CV’s with fancy fonts and colours no longer cut it.

The long-winded, written CV is being replaced with short, precise infographic style documents; video CV’s; and even presentations,” she says. “We even see some businesses making a unique CV part of the criteria for the job application process.

Van den Barselaar shares these six tips for making simple improvements to your CV that can assist you in standing out from your job search competitors:

Customise your CV to the kind of job you are applying for.

“Try to steer clear of the usual Word document, and get creative with your CV. Try to customise the template and style to the kind of job you are applying for, whether this is through adding relevant graphics, multimedia elements, or using a specific platform like YouTube. Your prospective employer will appreciate the time and effort that went into creating the CV, and you will already have showcased some of your skills,” she explains.

Use words from the job description

You'll impress your potential interviewer if you use the same language they used in the job description or advertisement. Read the job description carefully, and when you describe duties and achievements at previous jobs, use the words you find in the job description to show that you have the requisite experience.

“But, make sure you are honest about your experience, skills and expertise,” warns van den Barselaar.

Give your CV a title

Most job seekers don't do this. They just put their name and contact information at the top of the resume and hope it catches the attention of the receiver. If you give your CV a suitable title that is relevant to the job you are seeking, it is more likely to catch its reviewer's attention and land you a job interview.

Bold important words

You have six seconds to grab the reader's attention. By making important words stand out in your CV, you make it easier for the reviewer to find the information they are looking for, which will save them time and increase your chances for a job interview.

“This applies no matter what type of format you are using to create your CV. Make sure to point out important words, and if necessary use an index to separate and outline each section. Making it easier for your potential interviewer to find the information they need will count in your favour,” says van den Barselaar.

Make it “scannable.”

Today's interviewing managers spend a lot of time online reading blogs, website content, and other online copy that is easy to scan. Make your CV scannable by using bullet points, lots of white space, subheads, and other visual features.

“While you want to make a good first impression through your CV, keep it brief and to the point – this will also allow you to expand on the points made in your interview,” states van den Barselaar.

Make it search engine friendly

Make your CV search engine friendly by using relevant words and phrases. This will increase your chances of getting the job interview because you’ve made it easy for the person reviewing applications to see if you have the necessary skills to perform the job.

“In line with this, keep your online profiles such as LinkedIn updated. This way you may even be approached for jobs you didn’t apply for, as recruiters and employers are using online tools to search for candidates with the right skills and experience,” says van den Barselaar.

“By having a well thought out, well presented and easy to read CV, you have taken an important step in presenting yourself as a more valuable candidate for the position at hand,” she concludes.

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