By: Contributor On: February 4, 2020 In: Jobs Comments: 0

According to The Undercover Recruiter, 78 percent of CVs are rejected simply because they have an unprofessional sounding email address. Having a photo of yourself also skyrockets your rejection rate to 88 percent, and just a single grammar or spelling mistake will have your CV thrown in the trash.

With the employment landscape looking this competitive, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had no chance at all. But take heart – knowing just a few simple tricks can make a world of difference. Here’s a few to get started:

Steer Clear of Jargon

It may seem like a good idea to cram your CV with industry-specific terms and plenty of big, impressive words, but this could ultimately backfire. You might come across as trying too hard, or even worse, your potential employer may suspect a little embellishment (contrary to popular belief, fudging the truth on your CV is not something that everyone does!).

Our advise? Use more niche terminology where you really need to and keep it simple elsewhere.

Match Your CV to Your Industry

There is no one-size-fits-all CV. A good idea is to search around for examples in your precise field or ask those in the know to give some advice for pitching your CV the right way. Some industries want it short and sweet. Others will balk at your “hobbies and interests” section. Some will expect a long list of references with contact details, while others won’t care.

Try to figure out exactly which keywords recruiters are searching for when they want to hire people like you and include them liberally. If you have any industry-specific accredited courses, put those near the top, even if you have a more impressive but general qualification.

Keep it Simple

The sad fact is that recruiters and upper management are going to be spending mere seconds looking at your CV. You need to keep it concise! Put in too much waffle and filler, and you risk boring and alienating the reader – you don’t want to make anyone work too hard to determine whether you’re what they’re looking for.

Avoid long sentences and always try to lead with the most relevant information.


It goes without saying – typos and rotten grammar don’t exactly scream, “hire me!” But don’t be fooled by a standard spellcheck; go in yourself and check every tiny detail, and get a second and even third pair of eyes to have a look while you’re at it.

Double check that contact details are correct and that there aren’t any weird formatting issues like odd page breaks or awkward margins.

Back it Up

Those reading your CV aren’t going to be impressed by a long list of your supposed skills – they’ll only sit up and take notice when you can prove what you’ve done. Instead of enumerating your abilities, tie every skill back to a concrete example. Demonstrate your value by pointing to the tangible results you achieved using your skills.

Don’t Forget a Cover Letter

To be fair, there’s a strong chance your cover letter won’t be read. However, you’re at a definite disadvantage if the reader is expecting one and can’t find it. Be on the safe side and always include a cover letter. Take the opportunity to address the specific job role as advertised and include information unique to that post – here’s your chance to summarize your CV and show why you’re applying for this specific job.

Be Smart About Formatting

Before anyone reads the words on your CV, they’re looking at the overall appearance. It’s a good idea to convert your CV to PDF to preserve your formatting and consider using a template. Don’t go over two pages long and avoid lengthy introductions or mission statements. Use Calibri or Ariel fonts no smaller than 11 point. Find truthful but flattering ways to explain gaps in employment.

When you’re done, give your CV the briefest glance – what stands out the most? Can a person with only a few seconds to spare get the right impression of who you are and what you’re offering?

When putting together a CV, it’s easy to get disheartened when you think of all the hoops you have to jump through, but there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Just put yourself in the mindset of a recruiter who’s bombarded with mountains of CVs and has to find the right person quickly. How can you make it easy for them to discover you?

Keep things concise and professional, and you’ve won half the battle.


About Chloe Walker: Chloe is a twenty something freelance writer with a passion for writing articles relating to education and working life. When she isn’t writing, she can be found either in her local book shop or curled up in-front of the fire with the local newspaper and her dog, Bruce.

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