11 Tips For Writing A Stand Out CV

What do you think of your CV? How up to date is it? When was the last time you actually updated it? A lot of people think that once you get a job you can just push your CV to one side for a while.

This isn't true.

20 per cent of employers once said in a survey that they wouldn't hire someone who had a spelling or grammar error in their CV.

What's more, nearly half of employers said that 'confusing jargon' was more than enough to seriously harm a candidate's chances of getting a job.

There's loads more other stats but I think the main point is this: nowadays it's really important to have a killer CV.

So since my interview tips post went down so well, I'm going to do the same for CV's and show you how you can make yours stand out from everyone else's. Now I'm by no means an expert but in all my interviews my CV has been admired and has led to me starting my career. So here are some tips that I know will give you the greatest CV ever.

Label yourself

We're all so advanced and unique these days that it's not enough to put 'Curriculum Vitae' as a title anymore. The title of your CV should be what job title you think you are at this moment in time. That could be anything. When I finished my masters course, the title of my CV was 'Holly Sutton - Brand Journalist.' So yours could be 'Music Teacher' or 'Actor' or 'Freelance Writer' - see what I mean? Make it unique to you.

Include a head shot of yourself

We like to be able to picture people nowadays. If you send someone your CV which includes all these details about yourself, the person reading it is going to want to picture you. So always include a head shot of yourself in the top right hand corner of the page. Mine is my blog one at the top of this page - take a look, I'm looking directly at the camera and smiling. An interviewer once said to me 'I could tell you were going to be a positive and happy person from your photo.' Remember, a picture tells a thousand words.

Include all your contact details

Underneath your title which should appear on the left hand side of the page, should be your contact details. All of them. To make it look neater and easier for yourself, put them in two paragraphs, one on the left and one on the right. On the left should be your full address. On the right should be your home telephone, mobile, email address and live social media links, like Twitter, LinkedIn and your blog link - people love  them.

Add a skills set

Your skills are so important. The main reason being that they will be unique to everyone else's. List all of them, everything you can think of, that is related to the job you're applying for. To start off, think of all the skills you use in blogging. So this could be writing, web writing, SEO, editing, researching, accuracy - I could list so many more! Then draw on your experiences and list skills from them. Know how to use Photoshop? That's a skill. Taken a specialist module or course? That's a skill. Using content management systems? That's a skill.

First up: Professional Experience

This is obviously one of the most important parts of your CV. The trick is to be detailed but concise. Now you don't actually have to include all your professional experience, because you'll most likely run out of room. List the most relevant experience to the job you're applying for. I know nearly all of your experience will be useful, but even if you just don't include one. The only one I don't include on mine is working at New Look as a Sales Assistant, because when you're applying for journalism jobs, it's not as relevant as my other journalistic experiences. The format is also really important. First up: date. Second: role and company. So using one of mine as an example, it'd look like this:

March 2014 - Month's Internship at Look Magazine.

Then just give a few brief sentences on your role, what you did there and the skills you learnt. If you enjoyed the experience, this should be easy to write. Sometimes it's better writing things down in note form first then forming them into sentences.

Second: Recent education

So this isn't the part where you list all your education history - that comes next. This one is where you just list your most recent education experience. What you studied, where you studied at and how long you were there for. Then write a description about what the course entailed and the skills you learnt along the way. It's useful to separate your education, because employers are usually interested in your most recent qualification.

Third: Other education

This is where your other education comes in, in a simple list, no description needed. Make sure it's in order from the most recent (apart from the one you listed above) to the least recent. I'll give you another example so it makes sense. In recent education I talk about my masters degree. In other education, I include a Copywriting course I did, then my undergraduate degree, then sixth form/college, and finally school. So it'll look something like this:

Jan 2013 - June 2013: Copywriting Diploma with Merit at The Blackford Centre For Copywriting

Then list the others in the same format. You don't need any more details than that.

Finally: achievements

Oh employers love some good achievements! And funnily enough, this is probably the most difficult section. It's hard to determine an achievement, especially ones that are relevant to your career. You probably have loads of achievements because you're so amazing, but the key thing is to narrow it down - which two or three achievements will really stand out to your potentially future employers? For me, one of them is definitely achieving 100 words per minute in Shorthand. So take your time on this section and really think hard about which of your achievements is going to make you stand out from everyone else.

P.S if you've got a full clean UK driving licence, put this bit in achievements too.

Let's talk about references

You don't need to list them. A lot of people think you do but you don't. It just takes up unnecessary room that you could be using to talk about your other experiences and achievements. Have some references ready to go of course, but on your CV all you need to put is: references available on request. And that's how you sign off your CV.

Make the layout consist

This sounds simple enough but honestly, employers care just as much about the layout of your CV as the words you use in it. But I know if you're all blogging and writing, you won't need much advice on this part. All I'd say would be to use lines to separate your sections and try and get it down to no more than two pages of A4. I've heard some businesses don't even bother looking at a CV if it's longer than two sides of A4.

Read it again and again and again

And again! Print it, read it, make notes, edit it then print it again until it's perfect. 

The important thing is to tailor to each job you apply for, because every job is going to be different. 

After every sentence you write ask yourself this question: If I read this as an employer, would I ask them to an interview?


Do you have any more CV tips? How do you feel about your CV?