What to include in your CV

Published: 08 Aug 2013

How to create a CV that pops

How attention-grabbing is your CV? Today’s employers often receive CVs from hundreds of job applicants, and they spend an average of two minutes reviewing each one, according to research commissioned by Robert Half. The more eye-catching your application materials, the better your chance of landing an interview.

Here are some tips for creating a stand-out CV:

1. Lose the objective. Listing an objective at the top of a CV is a common practice, but it’s not the best strategy. Your career ambitions aren’t the chief concern for most employers; their primary focus is finding someone capable of doing the job. Instead of listing an objective, provide a specific and highly condensed summary of qualifications and then delve straight into your work experience.

2. First things first. Which is most impressive — the names of your former employers or the titles of the positions you held there? Once you’ve made this determination, list the most prestigious items first but be consistent. If you decide your title carries the most weight, give the title first for each of your past positions.

3. Emphasise achievements. Perhaps the biggest mistake job hunters make when creating their CVs is listing a litany of duties for each position they’ve held instead of citing their accomplishments. Your actual achievements are far more compelling than your job descriptions.

4. Use a sophisticated style. Appearance counts, so pay attention to the aesthetics of your CV. Use high-quality paper and strive for a simple but elegant design. One word of caution — unless you’re a designer, don’t be overly creative with the layout. It can make you look unprofessional.

5. Avoid errors. Nothing puts your CV in the “no” pile faster than a typo. Here are some classics our company has collected: “Thanks for reviewing my CV. Hope to here from you shortly” and “Received a plague for accountant of the year.” Ask several close friends and contacts to review your CV before sending it out. They may spot problems your spell-check function did not.

6. Take the two-minute test. Along with getting several close friends to review your CV, ask one or two contacts who aren’t very familiar with your work history to review the document quickly, just as a prospective employer would. Then ask them for their impressions – what information stands out? What can they recall specifically about you? If they remember the salient points, your job is done.

But if key messages don’t come across, go back to the drawing board.


Putting together an outstanding CV isn’t an easy task — the key is to think strategically and continue working on it until you come up with the best product. With perseverance and attention to detail, you’ll be well on your way to a new job opportunity.




This content is brought to you in partnership with Robert Half

Back to listing