How To Create A CV That Stands Out

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Finding a new team member has been both rewarding and exhausting at the same time. If you hadn’t already seen it, we welcomed a new team member recently. Altus has joined Agora as our Creative Assistant. We love the growth but what we didn’t love as much was the hiring process. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a CV that stands out.

Does your CV deliver?

We received over 200 applications for the Creative Assistant role, that gave us the opportunity to learn a lot about what makes a good CV and what makes the best ones stand out. If we’re being completely honest, when there are hundreds of CVs to look through, the slightest error and a lack of stand-out quality could result in your CV being tossed to the side. 

We have put together a list of dos and don’ts to help you put together a successful CV.

8 Tips for creating a strong stand out CV

  1. Read the job description of the position you are applying for. This may sound simple but in the current job drought, it seems that a lot of people are just sending out CVs to any job they see. Taking more time to read the description carefully could save you time and disappointment later. Knowing what you are applying for is also beneficial so that your application can be tailored to the position and include all the relevant information. 
  2. Attention to detail is VERY important. Spelling and grammar errors results in a tossed application. This applies to your CV, motivational letter and any other text you submitted. For any job applications make sure you pass everything you’re going to submit   through Grammarly (it’s free) before you submit it.
  3. Follow instructions. On all of our job adverts the instruction was to apply on our careers page yet we still got plenty of emails directly to our mailboxes without an application online. You may think that this will ‘help you stand out’ but processing emailed  applications is burdensome and shows that you can’t pay attention to instructions. If you do want to email in, first submit your application through the required platform before sending a short ‘thank you for the opportunity email’ to the relevant email address.
    Along with our application, we required promising applicants to complete a test. The lack of adherence to basic instructions here was a massive deciding factor for us.

  4. Never ever, ever ever, submit your CV as a Word document. Word has an awful tendency to change the format and become jumbled depending on who’s computer and which version of Word it is opened on. Apart from that, they are a pain to open. Not everyone has Microsoft these days. Always save your CV as a PDF. The last thing you want is an irritated person reviewing your CV. Top tip: PDF’s aren’t editable after they have been saved, so save it in more than one file type so you can edit it again at a later stage! 
  5. Get creative. Approximately 30% of the CVs we received for a creative role had no colour and poor formatting.They were immediately sent to the bin. We understand that not every job is creative and nor can everyone design, however, adding even a dash of  colour makes your CV a much more pleasant read. As mentioned before, especially for a creative role, this is your time to shine. Canva is a free and EASY to use online design programme that has plenty of well laid-out and colourful CV templates you can use. Top tip: modify the colours and design. The effort does not go unnoticed.
  6. Keep it brief. Only include relevant information on your CV. For example, we were looking for a creative assistant at a marketing agency. Experience as a tuck shop helper in high school is probably irrelevant. When you are just starting out we understand that your job experience may be a bit thin but as you climb the corporate ladder start doing some weeding. Pick only your most recent and relevant experience to display. When highlighting your skills and responsibilities, stick to short descriptions and lists. All hiring managers skim your CV to begin with so long paragraphs are often overlooked.
  7.  If you have bodies of work (portfolios, websites you’ve designed or a social page you run) link those in the CV. If your CV looks good enough we will take a look through these to get a better idea of your skillset. 
  8. Skip the pictures. Selfies and cleavage do not belong on your CV. Even professional photos could disadvantage you, they take up valuable space and give the employer a chance to evaluate you based on your appearance rather than skill set. Pictures in general can be problematic and should be excluded all together. You want a CV that stands out, not one that stands you up. Avoid prejudice and over exposure by just leaving them off.

In today’s volatile job climate, getting a good head start is critical. Keeping your CV short, relevant, professional and appealing to look at can give you a foot in the door. Regardless of the outcome you should ask for feedback on your application. Whether you were hired or declined there was a reason. Learning and improving from each application process could be critical to you getting the next job. 

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