You may not need to go to great lengths to set your CV apart in a crowded applicant pool. Sometimes just a few simple tweaks can be enough to get the job done and attract the attention you need to land an interview. If you haven’t considered any of these small pointers for how to create the best CV to get a hiring manager’s attention, try them before you pursue the next opportunity.
Table of contents
The anatomy of the perfect CV
The easiest way to explain the anatomy of a perfect CV is to break it down piece by piece.
1. Keep your CV simple.
You don’t need to select a fancy template. Just be sure to set your CV margins to half inch all around, a 10 pt. or 12 pt. font size and consistent white space throughout your CV.
2. Easy to read contact information
Feature your contact information at the top near the CV header. This will allow hiring managers to see your information easily. Be sure to proofread your contact information to make sure there are no unfortunate typos.
3. Highlight your best skills
You want hiring managers to see your most important skills at a glance. Highlight your best hard and soft skills strategically placed on your CV. You don’t want a hiring manager to miss anything. Be sure your skills match the skills required on each job role description that you are applying to.
4. Bullet your experience
When it comes to your job experience, be sure to use multiple bullet points to describe your role and clearly showcase your achievements in your CV. Be sure to include the company name, your title, location and the start/end dates of your employment.
5. Find a way to quantify your experience
Simply stating what tasks you performed may not be enough to show that you were successful at each job role task. When possible, quantify your job highlights in a way that will immediately gain the attention of a hiring manager. This can include success rates, data points and any other measures of your achievements.
6. Include most previous job roles
While you are typically advised to only include job experience that matches the role you are applying for, sometimes it is okay to include jobs that are not in the same industry. This would be the case if you are applying for entry level positions or you do not have ample work experience. By listing other job roles, you can highlight all transferable skills that will help you get noticed for the new job role.
7. List academic achievements
If you are recent graduate, it is acceptable to include your high grades along with your degrees and certifications. For anyone further out in their career, you will want to forgo listing your grades.
8. Include additional experiences
With so much competition among job candidates, it’s okay to add a section at the end of your CV that includes some additional experiences to make you stand out. This could highlight awards, clubs, organisations, volunteer work, activities and hobbies. Of course, you want to be sure this additional information will best suit the position you are applying for and show you in the best possible light.
9. Try to keep your CV to 2-4 pages
If possible, it’s suggested that job seekers create a CV that is 2-4 pages in length. Hiring managers are busy people so a shorter CV is quicker to read. Two-page CV works best for candidates who are just beginning their career or have only acquired a few years of work related experience. However, most job candidates with more than 10 years of experience and multiple jobs, will require additional pages to include their information. Either way, be sure your CV includes your relevant professional experience, skills that match the job posting and all of your quantified career achievements and awards.
How to make your CV stand out?
The best CV format is a format that is neat and easy to read.
You need to be sure your CV information is clear and makes you stand out from other candidates. Hiring managers and recruiters will appreciate the extra time and effort you put in to make your CV look perfect.
1. Select a good font
Not all fonts are easy to read on a CV. You need to select from easy to read fonts like Cambria, Verdana, Calibri, Helvetica and more. Set the font size to be 12 pt. Be sure to use your selected font throughout the CV and on your accompanying cover letter.
2. Set your margins evenly
CV margins should be one inch on all four sides. If you are trying to create a one page CV and need extra space to include your information, you can reduce to 1/2 inch margins.
3. Make line spacing consistent
Line spacing may sound picky but consistent and adequate line spacing does make for a better looking and easier to read CV format. Typically, a 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing works best on CV. Be sure to include a double space before and after each heading to separate each CV section.
4. Label sections with headings
It’s no secret that hundreds of candidates may apply for the same job role. That means hiring managers have to read each applicant’s CV a quickly as possible. You may only have mere seconds to impress the reader. It’s critical that you format your CV correctly with headers that stand out and separate your most important information. Section headers can use a slightly larger/bolder font size than the text. You can even use all caps.
5. Sufficient white space
A CV crammed with information will not be aesthetically pleasing and could be deemed overwhelming to read by hiring managers. Take a few moments to look at your CV objectively and determine if there is adequate white space. The right amount of white space will make a CV look more organised.
6. Avoid photos and miscellaneous graphics
Unless a job posting requested a photo, no job candidate should ever intentionally include a photo on a CV. A photo could actually hurt your chances to move on in the hiring process. Focus on your work experience and highlights instead. The same is true for including unnecessary graphics. Both graphics and photos can hinder the automated tracking system (ATS) that scans CV for potential candidates.
What is the best font for your CV?
When it comes to selecting the ideal CV font, the less fancy the better. You see, an easy to read font will be appreciated by the hiring manager who reads CV after CV on any given day. When your CV gets read, you do not want a crazy font to be the reason a hiring manager passes you up for a job interview.
CV font size
Selecting a font size is simply. Stick to the standard 12 point font size. Use a slightly larger and bolder font for emphasising section headers. If you need just a bit of extra space on your CV to fit critical information, you can drop the font size to 10 points. However, 12 points is the recommended font size.
CV font type
When it comes to selecting the perfect CV font type, there are serif and sans serif fonts. A serif font has decorative “feet” and is considered a thin font. A sans-serif font is considered modern with a streamlined look because it lacks the decorative “feet” as the serif fonts feature. It is said that serif fonts are typically easier to read on a printed CV while san serif fonts are more legible as an online CV.
The best Serif fonts to use on a CV include: Cambria, Times New Roman, Georgia and Garamond.
The best Sans Serif fonts to use on a CV include Calibri, Helvetica, Verdana and Arial.
With whatever font you select, be sure to remain consistent with that font on both your CV and on your cover letter. You can use bold, italics and caps to highlight important information throughout your CV.
How to make your CV stand out from the crowd
A little colour
Sometimes a splash of colour can attract the eye, even for a fleeting second. When you attract the eye, the mind follows. Be careful, though, and don’t go overboard. Choose colours that add just enough contrast without being gimmicky, and use them conservatively. For example, you could put your name and contact info in forest green or add a border in navy blue.
An unexpected turn of phrase
CV usually include the same basic professional tone and the same business clichés, repeated over and over by candidates who all believe they’re writing in an original way. Break out of this mold. Try another way of saying that you’re a hard-working go-getter or a success-driven industry expert.
A solution to an industry problem
You know your industry isn’t perfect, and your managers know it, too. You have two choices on how to approach this truth: 1) paint on a smile, toe the line, sing the chant, and jump through hoops like everyone else in the pool, or 2) tell it how it is. Mention that almost all companies, managers, employees, customers, or vendors in this industry struggle with a specific problem. Explain that you have a philosophy or solution that addresses the issue, and then share it.
A distinct formatting decision
Don’t go too far with this one, since your CV may be automatically uploaded and you don’t want to confuse the system. However, if you feel like organising your subheadings in your own way, leaving out one or two standard sections, or adding one of your own, feel free to experiment. Make sure it still looks well organised, is easily readable, and has all the necessary information. Building an impressive CV isn’t rocket science. If the content of your CV is strong, sometimes all it takes to make it stand out from the pile is a professional and eye-catching appearance. These simple tips will help you learn how to create the best CV to get the attention of potential employers when you submit.