The primary purpose for having a good CV is to get on that interview shortlist. You’ve found that amazing job, you’ve sent in your CV, and those two pages are now the only thing that anyone will know about you until you get a call to interview. Without a good CV, you will be overlooked. In fact, without an amazing CV you will be overlooked.  A bad candidate with a good CV will always be picked over a good candidate with a poor CV – because the CV is all the hiring manager will see before making a shortlist of candidates to interview.


There are four important things you need to consider when putting your CV together and we will explore each one:


  • Clarity.
  • ATS Compliance.
  • Maximising your value.
  • Tailor your application.



Being clear and to the point is essential. A recruiter/hiring manager spends between 30 and 60 seconds looking at your CV before making a snap decision to either advance or end your application. It is that simple. But there are several things you can do to ensure you are clear in your messaging.


  1. Clear, crisp, concise statements about what you have done. Don’t use industry jargon, try not to use TLAs, and definitely don’t waffle to pad things out. Stick to your achievements in each role/position.
  2. Formatting must be easy to read, use bullets to make it easier to read and skim through. Don’t overcrowd each section, you should be able to pick out the key points easily and the more ‘glanceable’ your CV the easier it will be for a recruiter to find out what makes you special.
  3. Follow the Industry standard for CV’s – start with a profile, followed by key skills, then discuss your experience, plus training/awards/hobbies. If you’ve just finished school/college/university – start with education, than move onto work experience.


ATS – Applicant Tracking Software

Most large organisations (and some headhunters) use automation for their job posting and also for receiving applications. They use software called ATS that screens CV’s and automates the initial shortlisting process – so before a human has seen your CV it has already been screened for key skills and experience. The newer iterations of this software are so sophisticated that they can provide a score for your CV and compare it to the job description, reducing the number of applicants in the process. Therefore your CV should be ‘optimised’ for ATS screening.


We don't recommend using a fancy template that can make it harder for the software to analyse your CV and match it with the requirements from the job advert. Once you’ve written your CV we recommend using one of the free to use ATS services online to check to make sure all your experience, skills, key words and job titles make it through and are read by the ATS.


Maximise your value

What do you want the recruiter to know about you? This theme must run throughout your CV. What is your brand? What are you all about? Are you a CFO that can improve margins on hardware products? Are you a UX Designer that has expertise for making things easier to use? Are you a University Graduate who has a passion for human rights? Start off with a profile. Something that gets all these points over. Don’t forget to include the types of job role you are seek – remember an ATS screen will pick up this key word and you will improve your match score.


For each position/job you’ve had make sure that you weave your brand/theme into each role – specifically making sure you list your achievements. Not just what someone else would have done in the same job, but what you brought to the role. Employers will want to know what you’ve previously achieved, what impact you made, and therefore, if they hire you – are you going to make a significant difference to their organisation. So these achievements, and the impact you’ve made, should really standout.


Tailor your application

Every job is slightly different, even if they have the same job title, the impact being looked for, and the candidates skill set will be clearly written in the job description. The best organisations take time and care to carefully craft their job descriptions. This will include the desired candidates skills, experience and also day to day activities. This is why it is so important to read every job description and tailor your application specifically for that role. If they are looking for a product manager with app building experience, but on your CV you only discuss building APIs, you need to reword your CV to include the key words. If you don’t have the specific experience, you can also include in your profile that you are ‘interesting’ in some of the requirements to ensure you pass the ATS screening. That way you are doing everything you can to get your CV in front of a human rather than being filtered out at application and receiving an automated rejection email.


The second piece of collateral that you must include is a covering letter. If you have the option to upload a covering letter, and you do not, other candidates will. This will make you look like you do not want the job as much as them. Even if you feel it’s unnecessary, I can assure you, it is well worth the effort. This is because a well written cover letter that shows you’ve done your research on the organisation, sells your skills, demonstrates your experience, and articulates the value you will bring to the organisation. It will also help the recruiter take comfort you are not applying arbitrarily and are genuinely interested, which might make the difference between the short list and rejection.


If you’ve reached the bottom of this page and you’ve got some useful pointers about how to improve your CV, then great, that is what we are here to do. However, if you’re now feeling more lost than ever, please select one of our packages and let us help you to succeed.