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Top Tips for a stand out CV

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Posted: 9th Sep 2016  |  Share this Article:

Your CV, love it or loathe it, is your best advertising tool.


A CV can sometimes prove hard to write

This is your first impression to a prospective employer or agency. Investing time and effort to ensure your CV represents you in the best possible way is crucial.

The purpose of you submitting your CV is that you want to secure your ‘perfect’ job. The job market including the administrative field is very competitive. Articulating and understanding what you have to offer is key. Use active language and avoid clichés. Your CV needs to reflect your skills, experience, achievements and results. Many employers and recruiters use an applicant tracking system to identify key candidates. Make sure you tailor your CV to the job you are applying for, using your achievements to reflect the key responsibilities.


Your CV must look professional. There are many articles about which font looks best on a CV. Choose a font that is clear, scalable and grabs the employers/recruiters attention at quick glance. My favourite is Arial and Verdana. Many CVs are scanned using an automated applicant tracking software, so choose your font wisely. Keep your CV simple, use bullet points, bold and tabs and use the right headings to break up your document. Try and keep your CV to two sides of A4 paper.

This sounds obvious, but make sure all your dates and qualifications are correct.  Spelling needs to be checked several times. CVs with errors show a lack of attention to detail and will reduce your chances of being considered.

Personal Details: To ensure you do not fail any ‘hidden selection criteria’, I would only include the following on your CV.

  • Name and contact details to include personal email address (make sure the email address is professional).
  •  The best number for potential employers/recruiters to contact you
  •  Your LinkedIn profile link or Pinterest/Twitter if appropriate
  •  No photo is needed unless required due to the industry i.e. modelling etc.

Personal Statement:

This can be the most difficult part. A personal statement is a brief summary that should distinguish you from other candidates. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, and put across specific skills that make you the right fit for the role. It should be concise and no longer than four-five lines/bullets. Your statement should be structured and briefly describe yourself, experience so far, one about your skills or strengths and your goals. You should include facts or figures to support your statement

Employment History:

Your employment history at a quick glance should tell the employer what you have done, where you have done it and when. Individuals that have had a long work history may want to skip the less-significant jobs and put them under one heading i.e. 1985-1995 various hospitality and retail roles.

  • Start with your current / most recent employer and state the name of the company
  • Your position
  • Dates you were employed (from-to)
  • Describe your duties, responsibilities and main accomplishments
  • Career gaps, please do not worry if you have gaps in your employment- write a short explanation which can be elaborated at the interview.

Temping and contracting background:

If you have temped for a long period of time with short and numerous placements, it is not necessary to list and detail each individual one. State something like “January 2016 – September 2016 Various Temp Positions” the same is applicable to contracting.

Professional Qualifications and Skills:

  • State all qualifications and recent courses attended
  • Any specific IT skills with relevant level of accuracy
  • Spoken foreign languages and proficiency

Education and Qualifications:

  • List in date order 
  • Details of school / college / university 
  • Include grades and dates

If you are looking for your first job, your education will be extremely important however if you have extensive work history there is no need to give too many details unless relevant.

It is not easy writing a CV, take your time and consider what does the employer need to know to enable them to short-list you for the role. Rather than what you want them to know.

Remember less is more, be accurate, be truthful and make sure your CV is bespoke to the role you are applying for.


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Vivien Edwards

Written by

Vivien Edwards

Cornerstone42 founder

Vivien has nearly 20 years administrative experience covering project and event management, recruitment, training and development, mentorship and supervisory for other admins.

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