Your Professional CV: How to get Shortlisted in the Competitive Job Market

With more and more competition and a lower job market confidence it is becoming increasingly difficult for your CV to stand out in 2016. You may have all the skills, qualities and experience but even the simplest mistake can separate the good from the great.


It’s all about first impressions. Studies have shown that recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing each CV. Simple factors such as layout and grammar could mean the difference between rejection and being shortlisted for an interview.

Keep it simple: write short and concise sentences to avoid any possible grammar mistakes. Make sure your CV is easy to read. Don’t use a tiny or difficult to read font and don’t cram the pages – the white space is just as important.

Other key aspects:

  • Font & font size
  • Name in a larger font
  • Section headings
  • Key/relevant experience
  • Order of sections
  • Bold, italics, underlining
  • Bullet points
  • White space

Feeling brave? Alternatively, you could consider a creative CV. It’s a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd, but, it has to be relevant. A creative CV should showcase your skills appropriate to the job or the company. For example, a ‘video CV’ may be a more individual thing to do when applying for a position video production company.

CV template?

The truth is, there is no holy grail template. You must tailor your CV to each job you apply for.

Every. Single. Time. No excuses.

Although your experience may be relevant and worthwhile to the position, if you do not utilise the keywords that were used in the job description you run the risk of being rejected - especially if the recruiter uses an applicant tracking system.  Emphasise. Make it obvious that you have the required skills for the role and spell it out to the recruiter.

Be truthful on your CV. A lie could easily slip you up, especially if it is something that you may need to speak and rely on in your interviews. A good interviewer will pick at any holes in a CV. Don’t worry if you don’t have the specific experience. You can tailor other aspects of your life to fit certain aspects of the job description. Employers understand you’re not the finished product – as long as you show (and evidence) your willingness to learn they are sure to consider you for the role.


CV Buzzwords:

A highly motivated and hardworking individual? Prove it!

These clichés and generalisations are a sure way to ensure someone else’s CV gets picked over yours. The words themselves are adequate, but without proof, they are frivolous words that are taking up valuable space. You have to back up your claims. Provide context to evidence your skills: where you acquired these qualities, how you learned them and what you felt you gained. This can be done in a matter of words and quickly demonstrates to the employer that you have relevant experience needed for the role.

Be confident. Have any particular achievements or qualifications that you’re proud of? Include these on the CV. Remember, you’re not only showing the employer what they want but also selling yourself.


The format of two-pages-max provides limited space to demonstrate all of your experience and achievements. Providing your LinkedIn URL on your CV provides the employer with the perfect opportunity to really get to know you (and why you’re the best candidate).

This requires that you update your LinkedIn profile prior to including it on your CV and that you keep on top of it afterwards. Make sure that your profile is an extension of your CV and does not merely repeat. It is very much a case of quality and not quantity.

It even offers a space to create a professional portfolio to showcase your work; an excellent opportunity to show an employer what you can do. It is also worth considering how other social media platforms can boost your professional profile.

A CV is the first stage of your journey to a new job. It has to be precise and to the point, leave the finer points to be detailed in your just as important cover letter. Make sure your CV is written for the employer and not yourself. Always remember to tailor your CV, it is the vital difference between a strong CV and an average one.


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