10 instantly actionable tips for improving your CV

Macbook, phone and book on pier

No one enjoys spending hours on a job application, only to receive a polite rejection email a few weeks later. 

When it happens once, it's disappointing. But when you're repeatedly overlooked for interviews, it can really get you down. 

A strong CV can be your ticket to your dream role, or at the very least, ensure your application lands on the interview pile instead of headed for oblivion. 

Here are 10 instantly actionable tweaks to give your CV the best chance of capturing the attention of recruiters. 

1. Keep it short

Two pages is ideal for a CV. Bullet lists and dot points are your friend. People will stop reading if the information they need is buried in wordy paragraphs and unnecessary detail.

2. Start with a personal profile

Begin with three to four sentences that outline how your skills and experience meet the requirements of the role(s).

3. Consider grouping short-term positions

Employers want candidates who look like they’ll stay for the long haul.  It’s better to say that you worked in hospitality for two years rather than listing the ten different fast food outlets you briefly worked in during that time.

4. Focus on your accomplishments and skills instead of your employment history

If you’ve worked on short-term contracts, you could list these under Contract Work and highlight your achievements instead of detailing each role.

5. Add awards, prizes and other relevant information that will help you stand out from the crowd

Do you speak a second language? Volunteer in an area directly related to the role? Make sure you mention these.

6. Focus on what you have accomplished rather than your duties, then prove your claims

Did you add value, make or save the company money, solve a problem, make something more efficient, or attract new clients? Describe how you did this.

7. Make sure the recruiter can easily see your strengths

It’s almost always best to lead with your employment history unless you’ve recently graduated.

8. Use language that is easy to read and skim over

Spell out your qualifications and any acronyms. A recruiter probably won’t know that a DAgrEc is a Doctor of Agricultural Economics.  And it’s better to say you were a member of the Expenditure Review Committee rather than the ERC.

9. Explain noticeable gaps in employment

This is especially true if you were studying, completing projects, freelancing or undertaking research.

10. Get a professional email address

Email addresses like ilovecatsforever@hotmail.com will send your application straight to the bin.

Editor's note: Mint Content no longer offers CV and selection criteria writing services. For help developing a winning job application, refreshing your resume or nailing your next interview, we recommend Angela McPhillips Consulting.