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Here’s what your CV really needs

Here’s what your CV really needs

When it comes to résumé writing, most people tend to fixate on the minor details. We spend hours fussing over whether remarkable or exceptional best describes our organisational abilities, or if we should use a Calibri or Arial font.

Your CV may be your first point of contact with an organisation, so these little details are important, but bear in mind that the average employer or recruiter spends six seconds staring at your CV before making a decision – so remarkable or exceptional are trivial.

The most important thing is that your CV proves you have the relevant skills, experience and mindset to do the job – within six quick seconds.

Here’s how to write an attention-grabbing CV:


1) Keep it simple, stupid.

Cramming your entire life - every skill you’ve ever mastered, every experience you’ve ever gained, everything you’ve ever done - into a measly one or two page document isn’t easy.

So, when you come across a job you’re certain is right for you, it’s easy to let your anxieties get the better of you and try to stuff every small, obscure detail in there. And while those details are relevant to your suitability to the job, think of your CV as the contents page to your life, not the book itself.

It’s like when you go travelling abroad. It’s easy to stress over all the little things you need to take with you, but the most important things to pack are your passport and credit card – everything else (your clothes, your toothbrush, that inflatable neck cushion you thought you’d use) is replaceable.

The same principal applies to your CV. The main thing is that you clearly show you have the relevant experience, background and skills to do the job. It sounds simple – and it is – so don’t overcomplicate it.

2) Get right to the point.

The first thing an employer is going to look for on your CV is your current or most recent job – so make it easy to find. At the top of the first page, list your company name, job title and how long you’ve worked there.

The second thing they will want to know is if you have enough relevant experience to do the job. Showcase your other relevant work experience and education using the same format – ideally fitting it all on the first page.

3) Prove you’re the right fit.

Once they’re convinced you have right experience necessary to do the job, an employer will scan the rest of your CV looking to see if your skills and achievements match what they’re looking for.

Underneath each job, in bullet points preferably, describe what you’ve achieved in each role (if relevant, try to cater these points towards the responsibilities of the job you’re applying for). Keep your language simple and use keywords where possible.

Remember, your CV is a piece of marketing material used to showcase you have the right skills and experience to do the job - not act as a legally-binding document outlining your entire work history. For instance, if you’re worried about revealing your age on your CV, only show what you’ve done for the last 5-10 years.

While having a short and simple CV might feel like it isn’t doing your career justice, the job interview is where you will have the chance to let your true personality shine – so be patient.

For more advice on CV writing, check out our CV writing guide here.

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