• Coach Kate

Make Your CV Stand Out

As a coach who works with clients every day on finding their dream job I come across a lot of CV’s. A lot!

Here are my quick top tips to make sure your CV stands out from the crowd.


The Basics - Format

  • Font – it sounds silly but make sure your CV is readable so go for a clear font which looks professional. Use a maximum of two different font styles if you want to break up your CV a little.

  • Colours – use them but remember that your CV needs to be able to be read so nothing too pale or even too garish. Grey is softer than black and works with pretty much every colour which you may wan to incorporate into the format.

  • Bullet points are easier to read than long, drawn out sentences. Don’t forget you are writing a CV not a thesis.

  • I have waded through pages and page of a CV – keep it short and simple. Two sides of A4 is enough as the rest of your illustrious career to date and experience can be elaborated upon in the interview.

All About You

  • Picture – now – let’s return to that work ‘professional’ It may sound ridiculous to labour the point here but please – a smart, smiley head and shoulders photo of you is perfect. No odd cat-ear filters, nothing racy, no need to hire a photographer and you don’t have to include one if you don’t wish to.

  • Personal Details – please, please, please use a professional ‘adult’ sounding email. Even if you have to create a new one – do so. No-one in HR wants to email @hotmotherlover with job offer.

  • Tone of Voice – yes make it sound like you but also research the company/industry you are applying for roles in and adopt what they use. I realise this may be a huge task if you are casting your net wide but really consider how you sound compared to how the organisation which has your dream job on offer sounds. Tailor your CV (& covering letter if applicable) accordingly.

  • Keep your Personal Summary short and sweet – aim for 150 – 200 words (if there is anything to take away from this Top Tip’s post is this: short and sweet!) Focus on you – what you can offer this role and this company so refer back to the job description. Think bespoke here – tailor it to each job and make it stand out by emphasising your most relevant, impressive, relevant, interesting and – guess what – relevant skills and strengths.


Time to Shine

  • Choose 5 relevant Core Competencies to the job which you know you can bring to the role and to the company. Don’t give huge amounts of detail but use the STAR model to back up your claims:

- Situation – describe the situation you were in.

- Task – what was the goal you were aiming to achieve?

- Action – what did you do to achieve it?

- Result – what was the outcome / the win-win?

  • Employment History – big tip here – you do not need to list every single role you have ever had. For most of my clients that would mean writing a small book. For some of them it would be very little as they have either just left university or have been out of work for a long time. Instead, cover the last 2 – 3 most recent and relevant roles. If you have not had any then consider what part time or volunteer roles you have had and pick out the most aligned skills to elaborate upon.

  • Education – another big tip – you do not need to include your primary years. In fact, use the same rule as above and go back to your most recent and relevant professional qualification. For those of us who have been knocking about for a bit that may be a degree / further education qualification. For the spring chickens that may be higher education such as A-Levels.

  • Should you include a section on tools & training? If it is relevant to the role. For some very tech focused roles then of course – yes. If you are currently undertaking relevant training, then add it in too – here is your chance to show that you are committed to your development and the enhancement of your career.

  • Ditch the hobbies section. I know, I know – super controversial but does the hiring panel really need to know that you love baking banana bread after going on long walks with your neighbour’s poodle? What you can put here instead is information about your experience outside of your role which may still be aligned to it. For example – any volunteering posts or mentoring you may have done, or the blog you write about the industry, or the online networking events you help facilitate.


Really think about the keywords throughout your CV as many organisations use keywords to search for candidates so check the job description for specific words or phrases which they may be looking for.


And finally – keep your CV updated – you may have just landed your dream job (congratulations!) but each time you receive a promotion – update it to keep your achievements fresh in your mind.


This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are some superb examples and templates online you can source.


Good luck and for more help with finding your dream role contact me: coach@kate-bishop.co.uk or on 07753 397 143


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