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Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders

How to get your CV to POP!

There are currently a huge number of people looking for a new job.  This may be down to their being made redundant or needing a new challenge, but suffice it to say, Companies are being inundated with CVs. 

So just how do you get your CV to POP to the top of their short list?

This blog is written in conjunction with Deborah Appleford, the amazing CV and LinkedIn Guru and Managing Consultant at Vignette Consultancy.  As an ex Recruitment Consultant, Deborah is well versed in sniffing out a good CV and as an ex HR Director, I can assure you that I did not get beyond what I could see on my laptop screen, if you hadn’t given me what I was looking for on approximately 1 third on your front page, then I moved onto the next CV.  I also have to say, I complete agree with Deborah’s comments on photos on a CV!

If you need help updating your CV, here are Deborah’s ideas and suggestions:

  1. Have a Clear Structure with Simple Headings.

    Don’t make the reader search all over the page or look at the margins for the information, make it clear on the page allowing the hiring manager to get to the good stuff quickly.

    I often see lots of space taken up on the first page with photos and unnecessary sections listing key skills or just a list of buzz words because they’ve been told it makes the CV easily searchable and whilst this is true, it will get ignored. Instead, put those words and skills under the actual jobs, making them have context.

    Regarding the photograph, again unless you are an actor or model, this has no place on a CV and takes up space. This is what your LinkedIn profile is for, so there is no need for it to be on your professional resume. I have often heard stories about hiring managers throwing away any CV with a photo on it without even reading the document, so don’t fall into this trap.


  1. Keep Your Profile Short and Sweet.

    I often see 4/5 paragraphs written which is too much and probably again won’t be actually read. Better to write 2-3 sentences with a few salient points as an introduction to you before the reader moves on to your career history. 

    Key errors I see are:

  • Writing in the first person. This is a professional document with a couple of sentences about you, so keep it factual and in the 3rd person. Your LinkedIn summary can be written in the 1st person and have more detail.

  • The sentence “able to work within a team as well as by myself’ or something to that effect is probably the most common sentence I see written in a CV profile. Remove it! It doesn’t really say anything about you as an individual, other than you weren’t sure what to write here and thought it sounded good.

  • Writing comments such as ‘considered by my colleagues as an excellent communicator’. This is purely subjective and non-factual meaning it has no place on a CV. Again, this is what your LinkedIn profile is for – instead of writing yourself you are highly regarded, actually ask those colleagues/ managers/ employees to write it for you with recommendations.

    So, keep your profile simple and include points such as how long you have been in the industry; whether you’ve worked for multi-national companies or whether you’ve worked yourself internationally. Also in which industries you’ve worked and then a couple of key skills. This keeps it personal to you and acts as a quick summary which is all you need.


  1. Include ONLY Relevant Information.

    I often advise my clients to have a master copy CV with everything on it and then to cut it down and tailor the document for each job they are applying for. This could involve changing the achievements you mention or moving key skills to the top of the list. You could also include a job summary before the key responsibilities to add a bit more information about the role and show relevancy.


  1. Use Bullet Points.

    A CV is NOT a novel, and needs to grab attention, so keep it succinct and easy to read. A short job summary helps add relevant information but keep this to a 1 sentence maximum to explain your role and then list in bullet points your key responsibilities remembering to match them to the job you are applying for.

    DO NOT copy and paste those bullet points from a job description, it is very clear to a hiring manager and recruiter when someone has done this and shows a lack of real understanding of an applicant of their role or simple laziness and is a sure way to be rejected.


  1. Include your achievements. I would argue that this is the most important section of your CV. When it comes to achievements, common problems I come across include people being uncomfortable with what they see as ‘selling themselves’ or they list job responsibilities as achievements because they are unsure of the difference, but mostly I just don’t see this section at all.

    So, what is an achievement and why is it important?  To put it simply, it’s the add value or the things that set you apart from your competition. It is often easier to put down if you are in a sales role because you can talk about over-achieving targets, but really in any job if you have created, developed, initiated change, built, redesigned, improved or completed a piece of work, it can be termed an achievement.

    Your CV is the key to your success with being able to impress a future employer or recruitment consultant so give yourself the best shot by getting it right from the start.


If you would like more advice or have any comments to share from this blog, then please get in touch with me at deborah@vignetteconsultancy.com

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Deborah Appleford

Written by Deborah Appleford

Deborah is an individual and corporate professional profile writer with over 14 years of sales and 6 years international recruitment experience, specialising in turning strengths into assets. After completing her Law degree, she started her career in the banking sector, becoming a mortgage advisor as well as a trained coach before moving into Recruitment in 2010 both in the UK and Dubai which is where she began identify that there was a niche area not currently being serviced in professional profile writing. From there, Vignette Consultancy was born which is a business that assists professionals and companies looking to create a strong profile and covers a range of services from CV and LinkedIn writing to Website biographies, Company brochures, LinkedIn training workshops as well as interview coaching.

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