Edvoy

6 secret tips to make your CV stand out

Amelia Carruthers
Last Updated: 20 October 2021 • 5 min read

So, you’re facing the challenging task of creating a CV...

It can be a gruelling process, especially for students feeling the pressure to land that all-important first grad job.

It might be the first “formal” CV you’ve had to write – and with competition for top jobs high, it’s important to get off to the best start.

Don’t worry too much though!

The good news is that making a CV that stands out isn’t that tricky if you know what to do.

We've covered the do's and don'ts for writing a CV. This time we're going to share the lesser known points to make your CV stand out from the crowd!

Here are six little-known tips to really make your CV shine and get noticed by hiring managers…

How to make your CV stand out

  1. Strong starts
  2. It’s all about results
  3. Customise extensively
  4. Character arc, anyone?
  5. Build your networks
  6. Know your field

1. Strong start

So, what makes a CV stand out?

It’s all about getting off to a strong start. Hiring managers don’t have hours and hours to pour over lengthy CVs and covering letters – so you need to make a good impression, fast!

That’s why your CV has to start strong.

List all of your key accomplishments and qualifications on the first page so that anyone reading it knows what you are capable of. 

Generally speaking, any qualifications and skills you list should be as relevant as possible to the position you’re applying for.

This may involve customising your CV for each job (which we’ll come to later!).

2. It’s all about results

If you want a CV that stands out, you need to focus on results before you talk about responsibilities.

Anybody can have a responsibility, but what did you accomplish from that? What was the result?

Let’s give an example. If your responsibility was to create an extracurricular activity, and you successfully founded a program that was still running years later, that’s a result.

This shows employers you’re able to drive concrete results and successes, which is a goldmine for successful applicants. 

Put simply, if you want to know how to make a standout CV – results matter.

3. Customise extensively

Customisation is the backbone of a successful CV.

Instead of just sending out a generic CV to every company you apply to, make sure to tailor it for each specific position and job description.

Yes, this does take time! But to have a CV that stands out, you need to mirror the qualities and characteristics a company is looking for.

You want a hiring manager to look at your CV and think, “wow, this candidate is a perfect fit for our organisation!”. 

You can’t do this unless you demonstrate you’ve got the specific qualifications and characteristics being asked for.

Perhaps you took an extracurricular activity at university that's directly related to the job? Put it in! 

So make sure you are customising your CV appropriately.

Does it take a bit of effort? Certainly. But does it reap rewards? 100%.

4. Character arc, anyone?

The best writers and film directors always talk about “character arcs”, and for good reason!

This concept marks a period of growth or change for a character, where they leave behind existing traits or situations and emerge a better, more well-rounded individual.

You might be able to guess what’s coming… but character arcs are a key aspect of what makes a CV stand out.

You’ve probably had a few character arcs yourself over the years, so tell your own story! To make your CV stand out, demonstrate how you’ve grown as an individual. This could be taking on more responsibilities in jobs or student societies, participating in optional training sessions, or going out of your way to tailor your skill set for your dream position.

 If you can demonstrate growth and get your character across, you’ll have a CV that makes employers take notice.

5. Build your networks

Nearly every article about growth as a business professional will include some form of networking advice.

Now this might seem a reasonably vague concept, but there’s a genuine truth to creating human connections.

When you network, you make friends that are specific to your industry. That’s the basic gist of it.

These might be classmates you graduated with who’ve entered positions already, or it might be professionals you’ve met at university events and talks.

How to make a stand out CV? Well if the person reading it already knows you… your application will stand out instantly!

The more you network, the better your connections are, and the better your contacts are, the more likely you’ll get noticed by an employer… it works.

So get out there, and get networking!

6. Know your field

Aspiring professionals are often judged on their insight into the industry.

Many applicants have great academic records, but knowing your industry, staying up-to-date with topical information – this demonstrates the natural interest and passion that employers are looking for.

It also shows dedication and commitment, two extra things employers love.

For example, if you took a training course based on recent trends within your industry, that shows insight. Make sure it features on your CV!

It demonstrates that you’re paying attention to what’s going on in your field and makes it more likely you’ll bag that interview.

Final thoughts

CVs are essentially a five-minute window to grab the attention of a potential employer and convince them to give you an interview. That means your CV really has to make an impact.

 Even if you’re relatively new to the world of work, focus on your most relevant skills and achievements – and why you’d be a great fit for a particular role or company.

With these key tips, creating a CV that stands out shouldn’t be a daunting prospect. You’ve got this, it’s time to put on your best productive playlist and let’s get to it!

If you’re a student thinking about CVs and job applications, take a look at the Edvoy blog for more advice and inspiration.

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Amelia Carruthers
Written By
Amelia Carruthers

With a background in academic publishing, education and digital marketing, Amelia Carruthers is a freelance writer with a love of history, philosophy and the written word.

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