How to create a standout CV

By Chris Devonshire | 7th November 2023

CV tips to stand out!

Your CV is a key differentiator to getting you noticed by recruiters and potential employers therefore, it stands to reason that you spend a lot of time refining your CV to have maximum impact.

The reality is that recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of applications for roles advertised. They know what they’re looking for and often, to increase efficiency, technology has a first go at reviewing your CV, through applicant tracking systems.

Whether it’s technology or human eyes, the average time spent reviewing your CV is 7 seconds.

Use your 7 seconds wisely.

Your CV is designed to inspire trust as a credible and desirable future employee. Creating a standout CV requires demonstrating your abilities and suitability for the role by striking a balance between presenting soft and hard skills, in an impactful and succinct way.

Measure twice, cut once.

There’s a proverb, measure twice cut once. It’s a caution to plan and prepare before acting, and it’s a constant reminder that we have one shot at getting it right.

How do you create a CV that reflects your skills and enhances your reputation?

CV tips

The goal of creating a standout CV is securing that all important interview. Here are our top CV tips to get you started on planning and writing a standout CV:

  1. Organisation

Who would have thought that organisation skills would be an advantage when writing your CV? But that’s what a CV is. Organising information in a way that showcases your abilities and successes and highlights the technical skills required to do the job. Spend the time organising your information, relevant to the role, that tells your story.

  1. Be authentic

Your CV is your way to articulate what makes you the best candidate for the role.  Presenting and evidencing your applicable experience, skills and achievements is a must, but it’s important to emphasise what makes you stand out above other candidates. Give a flavour of who you are not just what you do. And the only way to that is to be authentic.

  1. Clear and succinct

What you choose to include or not include in your CV can be the differentiator between landing the interview, or your space on the no pile. Technology requires proven technical competence but that doesn’t mean it has to be complex. Present your experience in a professional and succinct way that will grab people’s attention. Save the long story for the interview.

  1. Numbers AND words

Presenting your achievements is important. Evidencing them, even more so. Back up your successes with quantifiable figures, where possible. Have you used your technical skills to increase efficiency, improve results, solve a major problem or save your company money? What you do is valuable. Showcasing the results of your work and the influence it has had on the wider community, is invaluable. Numbers are a powerful way to represent your impact.

  1. Tailor your CV

Where possible, research the company advertising the role that has piqued your interest. At the very least, you should be referencing the job description when building your CV to ensure it reflects the requirements of the role. Recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate the effort in doing this.

That doesn’t mean start a CV from scratch every time. Once you’re created the framework, simply organise the information in a way that ties back to the requirements of the job, by listing your technical proficiencies, technologies, and relevant experience, professionally.

Sometimes it feels like a job description has been written just for you. And sometimes, there are instances when you know that your capabilities are aligned to the role but are not an exact match. In this situation, where possible, highlight skills from your current experience that are transferable to support these requirements.

  1. To buzzword or not to buzzword

Your aim is to create a CV that can be quickly and easily digested and understood, but there’s no harm in showing a hiring manager or recruiter that you know your stuff. In technology, technical jargon is inevitable. Depending on the audience, it might not be easily understood by the individual reviewing it.

Therefore, give technical content some context. For example, proficient in endpoint management platform, Microsoft Intune, securely managing systems and devices are up to date and protected in the modern workplace.

  1. Mind the gap

We’re in an uncharted period of global uncertainty. It’s increasingly likely that as we move forward, candidates will have gaps in their CV. Being out of work can be worrying but that doesn’t have to reflect negatively on your capabilities. It’s important to provide context to any gap in a CV. Whatever the reason, whether it’s redundancy, personal reasons, travelling, volunteering or increasing knowledge through training and development, make sure you explain the gap. Use this opportunity to highlight the benefits of what you did during your period of unemployment to a future employer.

  1. CV length

We’ve talked about keeping the structure of your CV simple and succinct, highlighting your achievements and providing context to show the value of your contribution. This might result in a lot of information initially and editing down your CV can be challenging, when what you’ve written feels equally important.

Focusing on the tips we’ve outlined already, combined with the few additional points below, will help you achieve what is widely regarded as the acceptable CV length of two pages.

  • Delete duplication
  • Summarise your content
  • Limit your expertise to the past decade 
  1. Spelling

It might surprise you how often this simple technique can be overlooked but the impact of spelling inconsistencies on your CV can deter a potential employer from progressing your application. It comes back to that all important first impression. Using spelling and grammar checks is a must. However, these tools might not pick up context discrepancies. Get a friend or family member to review your CV for spelling and grammatical errors and raise any content that might portray ambiguity.

  1. Easy on the eye

You’ve organised the information on your CV to clearly reflect your capabilities and suitability for the role. Now, ask yourself, is it easy to read and does it flow well, tell your story and have visual impact? CV design does not have to be complex. CV formatting is about simplicity and consistency.

Use legible fonts and sizes and consistent heading sizes and colour. Use bullet points and keep sentences short and punchy. Space is your friend. Leave white space around content and between sections for the readers eye to easily identify the most important information.

CV checklist

Here’s a CV checklist to make sure you’ve covered the bases to create the foundation for a CV that gets you noticed:

  1. Start your CV with a short and impactful personal statement.
  2. Be yourself on your CV. Misinformation has consequences.
  3. Highlight your skills, capabilities technical and educational qualifications.
  4. Pinpoint the capabilities that reflect the requirements of the job.
  5. Consider the language you use and avoid repetition i.e. responsible for.
  6. Use the system spelling and grammar checker. First impressions count.
  7. Provide current contact details and use a professional email address.
  8. Create a clear and structured CV layout that looks good.
  9. Add your hobbies and interests to show your personality.
  10. State that references are available on request.

At Devonshire Hayes technology recruitment, your CV gets reviewed by a human. As a technology recruiter that might seem unusual that we don’t use technology to filter CV’s.

We know that your technology skills might be exceptional, but your CV might not reflect the most relevant keywords picked up by CV readers. That’s why we look at each CV personally, giving each application the time and respect it deserves.

If you’re considering a career move or looking for advice, we’re here to help. Say hello to one of our trusted consultants to get started.