The ultimate cheat sheet for your CV
Image: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

The ultimate cheat sheet for your CV

28 Mar 2017

Your CV is the first impression you will give to your potential employer, so you’d better make sure it’s the best it can be.

Applying for jobs can be a gruelling task. Even for the best candidates, it can be hard to sell your best self, especially if you’re the modest type.

Harder again is the ‘paper sell’ you have to do to obtain a face-to-face interview. You might feel that meeting someone in person will give you a better shot at proving what a good fit you are, because you can show your personality better.

But nine times out of ten, a meeting in person will not be the first opportunity you have to impress your potential employer. It’s the dreaded CV and cover letter.

Once you’ve made that cover letter shine, you’ll need a stellar CV that will properly showcase your skills and make you stand out from the crowd.

Formatting might seem obvious but somehow, it is so obvious that it is often easily ignored or forgotten about. Make sure your CV is in a legible font, nicely spaced out to avoid a busy look, and that it’s not too long.

The second thing you should avoid is probably one of the most common mistakes people make on their CVs: putting everything in chronological order.

There is a natural tendency to put your education first, followed by your jobs and experience, which are probably in reverse chronological order, starting with your current job.

While there is nothing hugely wrong with this (especially if your current job is relevant to the one you’re applying for), it might not be the first thing a recruiter needs to see.

Do they really need to know where you went to secondary school before they see your current skills and relevant experience?

Rank your CV sections by what is most important to the employer. Your most relevant work experience and qualifications should go at the top, followed by skills and achievements.

Then, evaluate your less relevant jobs, experience and education, and decide why they’re important for your CV. Do they need to be mentioned at all? If you feel that certain jobs add to your skills and will help you to get this job, make sure they don’t take up any more space than they have to. A single line might be enough.

While you should avoid buzzwords unless you’re able to back them up, there are certain skills and abilities that most employers are looking for. Think about how you can demonstrate these skills without simply stating them. If you want to say that you’re a good team player or that you’re organised, prove it with an example.

Finally, polish your CV with powerful action verbs to strengthen the skills you’re showcasing.

Check out the infographic from Lifehacker below for examples of strong action verbs, essential characteristics and other expert tips to make your CV one in a million.

CV tips infographic

Infographic: Lifehacker

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading