A CV has to start somewhere. Picture: Flazingo Photos

A CV has to start somewhere. Picture: Flazingo Photos


Studies have shown it only takes six seconds for a recruiter to decide the fate of your CV and ultimately yourself. Your CV is like your marketing campaign – It allows you to market your personal brand. When a recruiter is making their way through hundreds of CVs at 1am, it’s important that yours stands out from the pile. That doesn’t mean you should make it colourful and put pictures of yourself on it. It means tailoring it to the job and being able to link successfully what they want, with what you have.

Here’s how to ace your CV:


#1. Use the STAR method

Some CVs lack depth and fail to explain specific roles or experience. Turn that trend around by remembering to use the STAR: succinctly explain your experiences with the Situation, the Task involved, Actions taken and Results. When you do, you’ll give depth to your experiences, showing them off for what they’re truly worth.


#2. Research, research, research

Often people make the mistake of making one CV and sending it out to many prospective employers only to find no response from any. It’s very easy to identify a CV that has involved no thought whatsoever towards the role being offered.  If you want to get an interview, it’s vital that you tailor your CV to the organisation. You can only do this if you research the company.


#3. Keep it short

Don’t feel the need to be too wordy. Recruiters are busy and need to know about your relevant experiences fast, so don’t test their patience with a five-pager, they’ll probably just dump it in the bin. Two pages is fine, and nail that first page.


#4. Prioritise

If a job places an emphasis on certain qualities, make sure these things are your top priority when setting out your CV. If an organisation is looking for candidates who have a range of voluntary experience, it’s obviously not going to be the last thing you mention on your CV.


#5. Skills

Having skills that are relevant to the position is important. If you’re applying for the Big Four, your analytical skills are likely to take priority over customer service skills. Use the STAR method to add depth to your skills section.


#6. Achievements

If all your achievements relate to academia, then perhaps put them under Education.  Using quantitative data always makes a CV look that much more impressive.

Maybe this one goes a bit too far. Picture: Emilie Ogez

Maybe this one goes a bit too far. Picture: Emilie Ogez

#7. Don’t undersell yourself

Don’t undermine the value of part-time or volunteer experience. Being able to show well-roundedness is key when applying for any job. If you’re applying for your first job, use the experiences you have to articulate the skills you have developed.


#8. Don’t oversell yourself

Unlike lies, the truth will never come back to bite you. It’s important to market yourself honestly because if you make it to the interview, there’s no doubt interviewers will question elements in your CV.


#9. To include or not include an objective?

This tip depends on the role you’re going for, so use with discretion. An objective needs to stand out because it’s often the first thing a potential employer will read. If it’s too long or seems irrelevant it’s not worth keeping.


#10. Continual improvement

Remember to keep your original CV to see how much progress you’ve made. Getting others to compare and see which one they prefer (hopefully the updated one) will keep you on the right track.

With all this in mind, remember that CVs are subjective: Like any piece of artwork, different people will view your CV in different ways. Your careers advisor at school may tell you something different to your sibling who’s an HR expert. Take everything with a grain of salt and remember, by not making changes to the original, you can compare and ultimately make your own mind up. Once your CV is on point and you’ve secured an interview, it’s time to practise those interview skills — Good luck!


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