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7 ways to make your CV stand out

As an applicant, your CV should stand out from the bulk of other applicants. Picture: File

As an applicant, your CV should stand out from the bulk of other applicants. Picture: File

Published May 22, 2022


Have you ever wondered what recruiters and hiring managers look for when they read applicants’ CVs? If you knew this, you would be able to make your application stand out from the hundreds of others they receive.

As a job seeker, it should be your priority to make your CV a cut above the rest, and here are seven ways to do just that:

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1. Grab their attention

Make sure that, at first glance, a recruiter will know the most important things about you. You can do this by starting with a short list of your most impressive skills. Ensure the skills match the job you are applying for.

This will entice them to read more about your work experience, which you should list in chronological order.

Your layout should also be attractive, but not distracting. It should be clear and highlight your strong points. Recruiters have mixed views about whether you should use a photo or not.

However, they all agree: If you are going to use a photo in your CV, ensure that you look professional and not as though it was taken on a night out.

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2. Be concise

According to the employment website Indeed, hiring managers, on average, only look at CVs for six to seven seconds. Therefore, it is crucial to condense the most important information into your CV.

The website also recommends that the average length of a CV be around two to three pages, while other recruiters say it should be one page.

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3. Do not be modest

This is your time to shine. You need to be candid about your achievements; for example, being voted as the team leader at your previous job, or winning an award at your university or TVET college.

This will provide the person looking at your CV with a clearer picture of what you are capable of and give them an idea of your dedication.

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4. Show that you know the industry

You need to show that you are knowledgeable in the field that you are in, even if you are just entering the job market.

This will demonstrate that you keep up with whatever shifts and developments occur in your sector.

It will also show that you can be an asset to the organisation you’re applying to.

5. Be careful of the language you use

Recruiters look for applicants who are truthful and unique. Therefore, stay away from clichéd attributes such as hard-working or responsible.

This may be true of your work ethic and character, but it is more beneficial to show rather than tell.

Instead, you can mention that you are accountable, ethical, and conscientious.

6. Be accurate

The grammar, spelling and punctuation in your document could mean the difference between your CV getting tossed into the rubbish bin or getting a call for an interview.

It is important to pay attention to every detail. To ensure that your CV is free of errors, you can use free grammar checking apps such as Grammarly.

Before you submit your CV, have another pair of eyes go over it. They might notice something you missed.

7. Be honest

Under the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act, it is illegal to lie about your qualifications on your CV.

While you may want to be impressive by embellishing your achievements, it is better to be genuine and upfront, as recruiters will often verify your information.

Being honest will prove that you could make a trustworthy employee.