If you want to impress a recruiter, it starts with a CV that sells you at your best.

Picture this. You've found the perfect job. You have the relevant experience, the job is at the right level, it's with a company that suits your values, and the salary is in line with your expectations.

But there's an issue. You're not sure your CV is displaying your candidacy in the right way, even though you know you're a great fit for the job. You're not sure that you stand out.

Writing a CV can be daunting – and writing the perfect CV takes time and effort. Not only to detail relevant information, but also to display your talent in an extraordinary way. No fear: there are ways to make any job sound impressive on your CV. Use the following suggestions to tweak and tailor your CV to show recruiters that you're the best candidate for the job.

Inject keywords into your CV

One way to make your experience immediately impressive is by using keywords from the job description throughout your CV to tailor it to the role. Using the same language and phrases shows the recruiter that you're a good match for the position. Plus, it will aid your performance when up against applicant tracking systems.

Before you optimise, you must first find the best keywords to use in your CV. Sift through the job description and highlight any skills that align with your own abilities. Also, make a note of industry jargon that can be leveraged. Then, naturally pepper the keywords throughout your document to show how you're a good fit.

Reduce irrelevant information

It's very common for job hunters to over write their CVs. And it makes sense. After all, you want to put your best foot forward and showcase everything in your entire professional repertoire. However, your CV will speak to different audiences, so reducing the fluff and customising your CV to a specific vacancy is essential. 

Target the role you're applying for by removing details in your employment history that aren't directly related to the vacancy. You've already scanned through the job advert, so you will know what to cut - for example, skills that are not mentioned.

Don't feel you have to remove all irrelevant details, especially if it seems like there are yawning gaps in your employment history. But consider limiting them, as you don't want to cast shade over your top skills. 

Use the active voice

Using the active voice is guaranteed to make any job sound impressive on your CV. This is because active words push your achievements to the forefront of the sentence and therefore highlight your abilities. 

For example, note the difference between:

  • The active sentence: “Managed inventory activities, including ordering and re-stocking, for a workforce of 50.” 

  • And the passive sentence: “Inventory activities, including ordering and restocking, for a workforce of 50, were managed by me.” 

The passive is rather waffly and less dynamic. 

Trace over your CV and swap passive sentences for active ones. Replacing the passive voice will instantly highlight your capabilities and create a pleasant read.

Leverage powerful verbs

Take the active voice one step further by using powerful and creative verbs to enhance your abilities and create a more engaging read. “Managed”, “led”, “communicated”, and “assisted” are common cliches and, while they do the job of describing your actions, they don't necessarily showcase your personality or make your CV sparkle.

Review your CV to identify verbs which are overused and consider finding an alternative. For example, instead of '“led” try “headed”, “directed”, or “oversaw”.  You don't need to break out the thesaurus and go overboard, but do consider your word choice to aid storytelling and bring your personality to life. Here's a handy list of action words to use in your CV to help you.

Choose accomplishments, not duties

Another way to make a job look amazing on your CV is by listing your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities. While providing a list of your duties is likely to offer a decent overview of your experience, it doesn't differentiate you from another candidate with exactly the same job title and experience. Plus, a recruiter is likely to know what your daily tasks are from your job title, so you're not adding anything to your application.

Reframe the focus of your CV to highlight accomplishments. Consider what you achieved while carrying out your role and the successes that you generated from your actions. If you led a meeting, what was the impact of that? If you created a monthly report, why did it matter to the business? Consider how your role was connected to the bottom line in each of your experiences.

Quantify your achievements

Once you have identified your accomplishments, it's time to make them tangible with numbers. For example, which sounds more impressive?

  • Option one: “Analysed keyword performance data to optimise page rankings.”

  • Option two: “Analysed keyword performance data to optimise page rankings, resulting in a 14% YoY uplift in organic traffic.”

The chances are you'd pick option two, which is a little more descriptive and impressive thanks to the use of numbers. Any numbers that demonstrate your ability or quantify your achievements will show the recruiter your capabilities, which is much more convincing than simply telling them what you do day to day. Providing evidence of your growth and successes, no matter how small they seem, might help you to cinch the interview.

Prioritise readability

The most standout CVs have a clean and professional layout. Therefore, formatting is essential for making a job look good on your CV. You might have the best content in the world, but if the formatting is clunky and indigestible then a recruiter is likely to lose patience and walk away. 

Ask yourself, can you easily scan your CV and identify key points? Is your CV pleasing to look at? You're looking for an even balance of text to white space and snappy sentences or bullet points, as opposed to blocks of heavy, dense text. In addition, watch out for typos and grammatical errors as they are equally detrimental to readability. 

Include testimonials

While testimonials and recommendations are commonplace for LinkedIn profiles, they can also be used in your CV to add character and weight. However, we're not suggesting you ask your past managers to contribute a lengthy paragraph. 

Instead, reflect on compliments and recognition from one-to-ones or appraisals. Then, include the commentary as a bullet point. For example, “recognised by management for the ability to discuss sensitive information from feedback interviews, distil them for stakeholders, and supply tangible solutions.”

Adding a testimonial is effectively another way to quantify your accomplishments and illustrate how impressive you are.

Be bold

When you're job hunting, you have to be your own cheerleader. You may know you're good enough, and your friends, family, and fellow professionals likely will too. But if you don't blow your own trumpet on your CV, a recruiter never will.

Be bold, be brave, and don't be afraid to brag. Pretend your CV is an abbreviated quarterly report. It must provide context, details, and results to reflect the hard work that went into making something a success. Recognising your own achievements and channelling your joy and passion into your CV will make your job sound more interesting and impressive.

There are plenty of tips and tricks to make any job sound impressive on your CV. It all comes down to fine details, tiny tweaks, and confidence. Want to double-check you've done everything you can to make your job descriptions sound their best? Request a free CV review.

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