7 tips on how to make your CV stand out

Hiring | | 4 min read

To have a completely successful weekend at #SMRnov17 we recommend our attendees prepare. If you need some tips on how to prepare, we’ve got you covered here.

One key part of preparing is all about getting your CV right, and rather than just telling you this, we thought we’d give you a few helpful tips on how to get this piece of paper to stand out among the rest. It’s more than likely you’ve already got a CV that you’ve used for the past 5 – 10 years, but to keep up with trends, it’s always an idea to rejuvenate the look of your CV every now and then to keep it looking fresh.

A good CV isn’t the be-all and end-all of getting hired, but it goes a long way in giving employers the right impression, as long as it’s done right.

But why?

Siliconmilkroundabout is all about being yourself and meeting your ideal employers. We aren’t like your usual recruitment process, however, CVs play a key part in assisting employees in their decision making, so we realise that these significant pieces of paper still have a key part to play even in the most casual job searches.

#1 Be clear and concise

First things first, it needs to be clear. If it gives the reader a headache they’re not going to want to read it. You’ll need to be informative, whilst not over-typing. Pleonasm is a common mistake in CV’s and often sees people extend their words onto 3 pages. We’d highly advise against this.

If possible, try and keep it on one page, but if you find yourself squeezing your words, feel free to move onto a second.

“As a basic rule, if your CV is more than two pages you need to look at how you are presenting it and using the page space. It also shows a level of confidence and IT literacy in creating an engaging and interesting CV.”

– #SMRnov17 attending company

#2 Be specific

It’s all well and good talking about the projects you’ve worked on and their overall successes, but this doesn’t define your involvement. The employer wants to know what you’re good at and how good you are.

When talking about a project, be sure to go into detail about the work you completed, and the outcome of this. This is your chance to show off – don’t worry about sounding boastful, companies will expect that. They’ll want the intricate detail, so be sure to let them know what programmes you used, talk about strategies, and the effect these results had on the wider business.

“I often look out for new technologies being used in recent roles and how they have implemented them.”

 – #SMRnov17 attending company

#3 The aesthetics

If you’re not a designer, even if you’ve not got an eye for detail, don’t let this stop you. Shop around within your circles, you may just have a friend who knows a graphic designer. If not, the likes of fiverr.com will provide you with someone with the necessary skill set, however, if you’d prefer to do it yourself the likes of Etsy have downloadable design templates that you can utilise. You’ll have to part way with a bit of money for some of their better designs, but the long-term benefits make this incredibly worthwhile.


The above design, taken from Etsy, uses colour to separate different sections of the CV. This makes for easy reading and allows the reader to easily identify skills, expertise and contact details.

Another way to add a bit of colour whilst creating a focal point is to use small infographics within the page. Progress bars are a popular feature to use to portray how skilled an individual is in a specific area.



There are lots of small features you can use to add a bit of colour, and we do recommend this – no one wants to read a plain white piece of paper. And if you do design it yourself, be sure to keep the design subtle. If it’s overcrowded it may not showcase your skills as you originally intended.

“I’m a big fan of a carefully designed and curated CV. Rather than have tons of plain text and bullet points, using graphics, colour and clever use of space can reduce the number of pages required and help key information jump off the page.”

– #SMRnov17 attending company

#4 Maximise your keywords

We’d be lying to you if we told you that employers will read every word of your CV – because truth is, they won’t. And not only do you have to keep it short and snappy, but within these shortened sentences you’ll want to get across what makes you right for the job.

If you’re a developer, talk about the languages and technologies you work with. If you’re a designer, what programs are you best at using, and marketers should focus on their area of expertise whether that be PPC, content, or CRM.

When it comes to the formatting, feel free to make the keywords a heavier weight, or put your key skills in a bullet point list.

#5 Tailor your CV

If you’ve highlighted a couple of jobs that you really want, it’d be a great idea to tailor your CV to that specific position and company. Be sure to point out whether you’ve worked within that industry before, ran similar projects, or have used the required programs.

By specifying your CV for each job, you’ll have a much greater chance of standing out among the crowd – but be sure to give them the correct CV!

#6 Add a personal touch

It’s rare that an individual is solely hired based on their skills and expertise. It often requires the employer to verify whether they can see this applicant fitting into the team. So with this in mind, it’s worth adding a personal touch on to your CV.

A bio can be utilised to introduce yourself – let the employer know what you’re interested in and what hobbies you have. If you have a particular set of skills that don’t relate to your profession, feel free to add those in. Alternatively, if you don’t want a small paragraph of text, feel free to use a separate chunk to highlight this.



#7 Be different

We’ll always advise being unique and not copying an industry standard design and format, but if you really want some inspiration for completely outside-the-box creatives, we’ve included some slightly garish designs below, taken from weare.guru.


In conclusion

Despite the emphasis on first impressions, we still feel their importance is somewhat understated. We’ve met plenty of SMR attendees that have received a job offer based on their first impression, and so it’s vital for you to be yourself when you come to SMR.

In the instance where you don’t receive a job offer on the spot, your CV is there to back you up. So whatever you do, NEVER use Comic Sans.