CV as a sales pitch: five tips to engage employers


woman shouting through loudhailerYour CV has 15-30 seconds to impress an employer. Will your CV be thrown straight in the bin, or will it make enough of an impression on the employer to hold their interest? To ensure your CV wins you an interview, it shouldn’t be a passive, descriptive list, but instead an active sales pitch. Here at Renovo, our career coaches help jobseekers to revamp their CVs. We often find that CVs aren’t as attention-grabbing as they need to be in today’s job market, so here are five quick but essential tips to turn your CV into an effective sales document that will engage employers and get your foot in the door.

#1 First impressions count

What will an employer notice in those crucial 30 seconds? Initially, they’ll notice the appearance, layout and structure of your CV. Is it formatted professionally? Have you used easy to read bullet points or longer paragraphs? After they’ve noted the layout, they’ll start at the top and will rarely venture beyond two pages in length. Launching straight into your skills and achievements is a rather old-fashioned way to complete your CV. Instead, employers will expect to see a personal profile, which provides a summary of who you are, what you offer, and what you’re looking for.

Quick fix: Use font size 10-12, and keep points succinct, well-structured and free from waffle, jargon or gimmicks/photos. Entice potential employers to read on through structured subheadings and bullet points rather than using walls of text. Keep it brief by summarising anything from over a decade ago.

#2 An effective personal statement

Remember, your CV is a formal sales document – not a dating site profile. Your employer doesn’t care about your hobbies and interests; they immediately want to know what you can offer them. The personal statement should be an elevator pitch which is 5-6 lines long at most. Write this neutrally, not in first person, and think about how to mirror the job title in your own words. Note your experience, ambitions and any relevant or important skills that you possess. State one or two of your biggest achievements. Don’t waffle, and don’t go over that six line limit.

Quick fix: Imagine you’ve been invited to attend an interview for this position and you’re asked why you should be chosen over any other candidate. Use your succinct answer as the basis for your personal introduction.

#3 Key achievements

Now that employers and recruiters have an idea of who you are and what you could offer them, use the remainder of the document to expand upon the statement and provide details and evidence to back up your claims. Employers are particularly interested in how you’ll bring value to their company, so explain how you’ve brought value to past employers. Outline your achievements through bullet points, beginning each with a strong power word, such as ‘achieved’, ‘improved’, ‘established’ or ‘expanded’. Bullet points should contain 1-3 lines of text for each achievement.

Quick fix: Wherever you can, use figures and tangible results to back up your assertions. Explain the action you took to lead to each achievement, and then state the benefit to the company.

#4  Give the employer what they’re looking for

Study the job description and note the keywords that the employer has used – for example ‘strong written and oral communication skills’ or ‘experience in delivering successful marketing campaigns’. Mention how you can meet these requirements within your personal profile and achievements. Not only does this show the employer that you’re suited to the role, it also tells them that you’ve paid attention to the job description – and haven’t just applied thoughtlessly.

Quick fix: Whilst it may seem a big step to tailor your CV for each role you apply for, you’ll soon find that doing so means you’ll have to apply for fewer roles overall. Spell things out for would-be employers; it makes it easier for them to champion you as a potential candidate.

#5  Don’t apply and forget about it

If you’ve spent time tailoring your CV and cover letter to a specific role, you shouldn’t forget it immediately after hitting ‘send’. If possible, try to make contact with your potential employer to ensure your application has been received.  With recruiters often receiving an extremely large number of CVs for advertised roles, particularly at entry level, you’re likely to be forgotten if you don’t take the opportunity to make yourself memorable for all the right reasons. Another point of contact beyond sending your CV will help you to stand out above other candidates and be noticed.

Quick fix: Pick up the phone and call the person recruiting for the position. Be polite and friendly, and use the call as an opportunity to let your personality shine through. Prepare a question or two for your call, and ensure you give the recruiter a reason to look out for your CV. If you can engage them in a conversation about the role, brilliant, but if they’re not willing to talk, thank them for their time and leave on a positive note without being pushy.

Successful sales pitches are professional, concise and provide the buyer with what they’re looking for. Does your CV tick all these boxes?

If you’d like additional assistance with crafting your own personal sales document, speak to Renovo. Our team of award-winning career coaches will help you create and refine your CV – and all other aspects of your job search.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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