How to write a winning CV in 5 simple steps 

In today's competitive job market, your CV is your golden ticket to getting noticed by employers and landing your dream role.

7th Apr 2024

You CV is your personal marketing tool, designed to showcase your skills, experience, and achievements in a way that sets you apart from the crowd. But with so much riding on this single document, creating a standout CV can feel like a daunting task.

with countless applications flooding in for every position, how can you make sure your CV stands out from the crowd? Fear not! We're here to walk you through the essentials of a winning CV and share some top tips to help you create a CV that best represents your professional journey. Whether you're already in a role or just entering the job market, these tips will ensure your CV rises to the top of the pile and lands you those all important interviews.

1. Start with a strong structure

Just like a well-designed building, a winning CV needs a solid foundation. Before you start filling in the details, take a moment to plan out the structure of your document.

Here's a format you can follow:

  • Contact information: Begin with your full name, phone number, email address, and location. Make sure your email is professional (think, not
  • Personal statement : A concise, impactful summary of your professional profile, highlighting your key strengths, experience, and career objectives. Aim for 3-4 sentences.
  • Work experience: List your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. Include the company name, your job title, dates of employment, and a bulleted list of your key responsibilities and achievements.
  • Education: Detail your academic background, including degrees, certifications, and relevant coursework. Like your work experience, list your education in reverse chronological order.
  • Skills: Highlight your core competencies and technical skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Be specific and use industry-standard terminology.
  • Additional sections: Depending on your background and the role, you may want to include sections for volunteer work, professional affiliations, publications, or awards.

Remember, the key is to present a clear, logical flow of information that allows the reader to quickly grasp your qualifications and fit for the role.

2. Tailor your content to the job 

One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is using a generic, one-size-fits-all CV for every application. To truly stand out, you need to tailor your content to the specific job and company you're targeting.

Start by thoroughly reading the job description and researching the company. Identify the key skills, experience, and qualities they're looking for in a candidate. Then, strategically highlight the aspects of your background that align with those requirements.

For example, if the job posting emphasises leadership experience, make sure to showcase instances where you've successfully managed teams or projects. If the company values innovation, highlight examples of your creative problem-solving skills.

By customising your CV to the job at hand, you demonstrate your genuine interest and show the employer that you're the perfect fit for their unique needs. It may feel like a long process but it's worth it!

3. Use compelling language

Your CV isn't just a list of facts - it's a chance to tell your professional story and sell yourself to potential employers. And just like any good story, the language you use matters.

Ditch weak, passive phrases like "responsible for" or "participated in" and instead use powerful, action-oriented verbs that showcase your impact. For example:

❌ "Responsible for managing a team of five."

✅ "Led and mentored a team of five, driving a 20% increase in productivity."

❌ "Worked on several successful projects."

✅ "Led three high-impact projects, delivering results ahead of schedule and under budget."

See the difference? By using compelling language, you'll make your accomplishments sound more impressive and memorable.

4. Quantify your achievements

Speaking of results, one of the most effective ways to make your CV stand out is by quantifying your achievements whenever you can. Numbers and metrics show the impact you have made and help employers understand the significance of your contributions.

Instead of simply saying that you "improved customer satisfaction", specify that you "launched a new customer service program that increased satisfaction ratings by 25% within the first quarter". Rather than mentioning that you "managed a team", detail that you "led a team of 15 sales representatives to consistently exceed quarterly targets by an average of 20%".

Quantifying your achievements not only adds credibility to your claims but also helps your CV stand out in a sea of vague, unsubstantiated statements.

4. How long should your CV be?

While it may be tempting to include every detail of your professional life on your CV, remember that less is often more. Employers typically spend just a few seconds scanning each CV, so it's important to keep your content concise, relevant, and easy to digest.

Aim for a CV length of 2-3 pages max, focusing on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the job you're applying for. If you have a lengthy work history, consider removing some or briefly summarising older or less relevant roles.

Be ruthless in cutting out any fluff or filler content that doesn't directly support your application. Every word on your CV should have a purpose and contribute to painting a compelling picture of your qualifications.

5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread 

Last but certainly not least, proofreading your CV is an absolute must. Even the smallest typo or grammatical error can make you appear sloppy and detail-oriented, instantly undermining your credibility.

Before hitting send on any application, take the time to thoroughly review your CV for spelling, punctuation, and formatting mistakes. Reading your content out loud can help you catch awkward phrasing or run-on sentences.

It's always good to have a trusted friend, family member, or mentor review your CV with a fresh set of eyes. They may spot errors you've overlooked or provide valuable feedback on the overall impact of your document.

6. Your CV, your story 

At the end of the day, your CV is more than just a list of facts and figures - it's a chance for you to share your professional journey. By following these guidelines and incorporating your personality and passion into your content, you'll create a standout CV that doesn't just list your qualifications, but tells a compelling story of who you are and what you bring to the table.

With these 5 simple steps, you're well on your way to creating a standout CV that will get you noticed by employers and help you land your dream job. Remember, your CV is a living document that should evolve as you gain new skills and experiences. Don't be afraid to update and refine it regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.