Skip to main content

How to build your CV to create a high impact

Paystream News

Michelle Derungs

Friday 31st Jan, 2014

First impressions count, so make sure your CV is making the impression you deserve. Alongside your LinkedIn profile, your CV acts as a hard copy for you to sell yourself to your potential employer. Therefore, it is key to understand what key qualities are going to get your CV through the CV sift stages and into that final top ten pile.

CV sift - Round one:

So what are the first 'DO NOTS' that are going to get your CV sent straight to the bin;

  • Don't make it too long. Anything over 4 pages is going to put off readers.
  • You don't have profile details or skills on the top of the page. Make them obvious as readers don't want to search for them.
  • Don't waffle. Anything you read that has a lot of irrelevant waffle is going to get tossed aside. The same goes for CV's.

CV sift -Round Two:

Once the first sift has taken place the second round of potential CV's can be reviewed. So what is the next factor that will get your CV thrown in the bin?

  • Your profile skills do not match the job requirements. It’s as simple as that. When applying for a job, make sure that your skill set falls in line with the skills requirements or the job.

CV sift - Round Three:

Round three takes candidates CV's to the 'potentials pile'. The final stage before an interview is offered. If you've made it this far you're probably competing with around 10 other CV's. Readers will now scan more than just the first page. The non-technical, key features they will be looking for are;

  • Has the candidates had renewed contracts at some point? This can indicate the contractor has performed well on a previous job.
  • Does the candidates have a strong academic background?
  • Has the candidate worked for creditable companies?
  • Does the candidates' personality shine through? Although you don't want to go to off track with your CV, it is nice to try and portray who you are as a person.
  • How much experience does that candidate have in the industry?
  • Has the candidate worked in any other industry that might be useful for the vacancy?

So how do you create a high impact CV that gets you an interview?

Remember, you have about 10-20 seconds to make an impression with your CV so it is key to tailor it to grab your recruiters or potential employer's attention...

What to include on your front page:

  • Your name, address, contact details. A surprising amount of candidates forget to include these details! Don't be one of them.
  • A profile to outline yourself. Try and keep this professional and to the point.
  • A list of your skills. 8-10 bullet points should suffice. Make sure your highlighted skills fall in line with the job specification, highlight in bold the key words that match the job spec. Try and keep your skill set broad to show how diverse you are and don't be afraid to include personal attributes as a skill. (For example; highly organised).
  • A bulleted list of your achievements, between 3 -5 is ideal. Detail them but be careful not to waffle! No more than 40 words per point. There is an art to writing achievements, be careful not to simply write; developed an organisational process with paperwork.
  • You must always try to highlight the benefits that you attained for the employer at the time. For example; Developed an organisational process with paperwork that improved the efficiency of the process and saved staff at least an hour a day.
  • Finally, if you have any key analytical measurements on this achievement, then add this in to your achievements. For example;
  • Developed an organisational process with paperwork that improved the efficiency of the process and saved staff at least an hour a day. This not only saved time, but increased profit by 4% over 2 months.

What NOT to include on your front page:

  • A long list of hobbies. Unless they are very industry specific, no one cares.
  • A long list of non-specific previous employment.

What should you include on the second page?

The second page gives you a little leeway to delve a little deeper into your attributes as you have caught the reader’s attention. So what should you include?

  • List your relevant work experience, remember no waffle
  • Highlight relevant and key achievements
  • Your educational background
  • Any other relevant qualifications obtained
  • Training
  • Hobbies, try not to go too out of scope here!

The key to writing a good CV is to tailor it to the job you're targeting. It may be worth your while to have several versions of your CV created for the spectrum of roles you are applying for. Remember, your CV is a way to showcase your skills and attributes so always ensure you keep them relevant and to the point.

Back to the Top