How do I make sure my CV lands me an interview? 12 tips

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the Government’s plan to protect jobs through its Winter Economy Plan, but some believe this won’t be enough to save them all.

There was a slight uptick in the number of people becoming unemployed between May to July, according to Office for National Statistics.   

But with the furlough scheme coming to an end it is likely to rise further. There are jobs available but the problem for job seekers is that there are now more people than usual applying for them. 

A spokesperson from recruiter Indeed says: ‘Competition for the average job on Indeed has more than doubled since last year.’

There are lots more people applying for jobs so it's hard to stick out from the crowd. But it's not impossible even though recruiters spend just six seconds looking at CVs

There are lots more people applying for jobs so it's hard to stick out from the crowd. But it's not impossible even though recruiters spend just six seconds looking at CVs

There are lots more people applying for jobs so it’s hard to stick out from the crowd. But it’s not impossible even though recruiters spend just six seconds looking at CVs

Recruiters don’t take long to decide whether to advance a candidate through to the interview stage.

Deepa Somasundari, director of client success at global job site Indeed, says: ‘Employers spend as little as six seconds looking at a CV and like all humans, can often make quick decisions and snap judgements.

‘To stand out from the rest of the pile, jobseekers can apply some creative techniques to their CV but should always remember that relevance is what catches an employers’ gaze, not emojis.’

Here, the latest Interview Cheat Sheet focuses on 12 tips that could help you stand out from a crowd, help stamp out mistakes and get you into an interview to help land the job you are after.

1. Font trick for certain companies can work 

Ross Patel, co-founder of Sweatshop Media, says he was offered a job with Apple after he personalised his CV. 

He says: ‘A quick Google search led me to a file download for Apple’s font. I loaded it into photoshop and in true Apple style, wrote the words… “Ross Patel.”

‘I continued with “Apple Changed My Life” in a subtle and characteristically Apple space grey. 

‘I finished it off the cover page with an Apple logo in the centre. After three rounds of successful interviews I was offered the job at Apple.’

This little trick can work at a host of companies, and could be a way to stand out from the pile of CVs that employers are likely to receive. 

Co-founder of Sweatshop Media, Ross Patel, says he was offered a job by Apple after he took time to personalise his CV and demonstrate why he loved the brand

Co-founder of Sweatshop Media, Ross Patel, says he was offered a job by Apple after he took time to personalise his CV and demonstrate why he loved the brand

Co-founder of Sweatshop Media, Ross Patel, says he was offered a job by Apple after he took time to personalise his CV and demonstrate why he loved the brand

2. Get your elevator pitch right 

Melissa Sergeant, managing director at Bishopsgate says: ‘People that pique my interest and receive five minutes more of my attention are the ones that get the elevator pitch right – whether it’s in their CV or the first couple of minutes talking to me. 

‘Talk about what’s different about you. Tell your potential employer about your unique selling point. 

‘I usually look for the whole package. I don’t just focus on skills and what people have done in the past.’ 

3. Add a little colour 

Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV, explains: ‘In the past, it was usually frowned upon to add colour to your CV. 

‘However, it’s now becoming less taboo to accent your CV with a colour or two that help make your application stand out — without distracting the reader or overshadowing the content of your CV.

‘If you want to use colour, select a deep hue to use for the titles of each section of your CV; avoid font colours that will blend in with the white background of your document, such as yellow or pastels.’  

Melissa Sergeant, managing director of Bishopsgate Financial says its important to work on your elevator pitch

Melissa Sergeant, managing director of Bishopsgate Financial says its important to work on your elevator pitch

Melissa Sergeant, managing director of Bishopsgate Financial says its important to work on your elevator pitch

4. Include a left rail 

Augustine says: ‘Whilst a traditional one-column CV is still perfectly acceptable and polished-looking, at TopCV we’ve found that CVs with a left-hand rail or column offer a fresh look that catches employers’ attention.’

This is where some information is displayed in a separate column in the left-hand side, such as personal details and education. 

‘This alternative CV helps your application to stand out. 

‘Just remember, while CV designs with a left-hand rail successfully pass through the electronic net, CVs with a right-hand rail or column will not.’  

5. Don’t hide behind technology 

Sergeant says: ‘Too many people are still hiding behind laptops and devices. The ones that follow up with a phone call and just want five minutes of my time – those are the ones that get my attention more. 

‘Of course it’s all about balance. If they carry on and on they lose me. But it is a nice to make that human connection as that’s so often missing.’

6. Network online 

Use professional online networks such as The Dots, Indeed and LinkedIn. Patel says: ‘Stay engaged and keep an eye out for any opportunity that comes up. 

‘Don’t be afraid to apply for something you’re not sure if you want. If they like you, they will make space for you and it might not be where you expected it to be.’

Kirsty Davis, head of talent acquisitions at Fennies Nursery says it's important to prove your credentials in your cover note

Kirsty Davis, head of talent acquisitions at Fennies Nursery says it's important to prove your credentials in your cover note

Kirsty Davis, head of talent acquisitions at Fennies Nursery says it’s important to prove your credentials in your cover note

7. Prove your credentials 

Do this in your CV or preferably upfront in your credit note says Kirsty Davis, head of talent acquisitions at Fennies Nursery, which currently has eight roles available (see below). 

She explains: ‘Cover notes are an opportunity to highlight their best attributes, skills and expand on their relevant experience. 

‘This is what we hope to find compared to the notes and lists of generic qualities which often litter CVs. 

We look for that “I can prove it” statement. 

‘For example, “during my training period as an apprentice, I shadowed senior staff, allowing me to see the leadership and management skills and the operations behind a busy team. I am now a qualified Room Leader and successfully managing a team of eight staff.” 

‘Showcase yourself around your three strongest points. This may be an achievement; it may be your targets met or why you are that team player.’

8. Bold the text 

Somasundari says: ‘One way of highlighting specific skills, experiences and achievements is by bolding the text. 

This will help draw the attention of employers to your abilities. Jobseekers should never underestimate the importance of a clear layout and a length that does not exceed two pages.

9. Keep your CV short 

Somasundari says: ‘The best CVs will use as few words as possible. For that reason, formatting experiences as a list of short statements is better than writing out long detailed paragraphs. This will also help cut down on the overall length.

‘Depending on your line of work, you may direct the reader to view a video, case study or other write-up you’ve posted to your personal website to show the employer just how dedicated you are to adding value to their team.

10. Try and solve the company’s problems 

Augustine says pitching a solution to the organisation’s needs could land you the job. 

She explains: ‘While this wouldn’t necessarily go on your CV, you can utilise this technique when you’re applying for positions that are of great interest. 

‘If you’re incredibly passionate about working for a particular company and you are well-versed in their business, consider pitching an idea as part of your cover letter. 

‘Rather than merely reiterating your qualifications, start off by explaining how you can help the company fill a void or solve a problem they’re facing. 

‘Depending on your line of work, you may direct the reader to view a video, case study or other write-up you’ve posted to your personal website to show the employer just how dedicated you are to adding value to their team.’

11. Be creative in your application?

Trying to be creative may not work in every situation so it’s important to think about how well a creative gesture will be received before you spend your time, energy and even money on it.

Augustine advises: ‘Ask yourself if Is this an organisation that prides itself on creativity and going against the norm? Then, an unusual tactic may be well-received. 

‘However, if you’re targeting an organisation that prides itself on its traditions, your creative approach may make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.’

12. Read the details carefully

Crucially, it is important to read the requirements of a certain role – and not simply copy and paste a one-size-fits-all for all employers that you’re trying to get a job at.

Make sure you have a tailored cover letter, and all your CV details are up to scratch. You want to make it as easy as possible for an employer to look at your application and go: they get these basics right, they’re on my ‘yes or maybe’ pile. 

By Angelique Ruzicka 

Get hired! We showcase nine companies recruiting right now 

Amazon: The multinational company is currently advertising around 1,400 roles on LinkedIn with various roles on offer ranging from communications to to compliance. It also has over 1,000 remote roles on offer.  

Fennies Nurseries: Growing nursery Fennies has 24 jobs available 11 sites in London, Surrey and Kent. Cera has several care assistant jobs on offer. Apply at fennies.com/careers/job-search  

John Lewis:The high end department store is currently offering a number of places including roles such as a customer services officer and warehouse operative  

McDonaldsThe fast food company is currently advertising 10 jobs ranging from evening staff to customer experience leaders. 

Mitie: The British outsourcing and energy services company currently has 12 roles on offer ranging from office administrators to facilities assistants. 

Morrisons: Morrisons has several roles on offer including home delivery, logistics and store picker roles.  

NHS: If you want to work for the National Health Service they have a variety of jobs on offer including support workers, healthcare assistants and team administrators. Apply through Indeed.  

Specsavers: British multinational optical retail chain is currently advertising 13 jobs through Indeed such as receptionists, optical assistants and customer service advisors.  

Tesco: Tesco is currently advertising 1,876 roles which range from customer assistants, to delivery and kitchen roles.  

Sources: Indeed, Fennies,  LinkedIn, Amazon, Tesco, Morrisons

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