Creating a CV that stands out from the crowd


orange lightbulb standoutOne of the subjects we get asked about the most is how to create a CV that stands out from the crowd.  The modern job market is competitive, and so in order to ensure your CV works for you and will get you noticed, you need to understand the purpose of your CV and how to sell your strengths and achievements.

When an employer or recruiter receives your CV most will skim read it for 15-20 seconds to pick out key information. Your CV may also go through an applicant tracking system which identifies keywords that are relevant to the job vacancy. This means your CV has to attract an employer’s attention quickly in order for them to consider taking you forward to an interview.

The purpose of a CV

Your CV is a sales document which helps you to secure an interview. A CV should not be a detailed analysis of your full career history to date; tailor what you are presenting to make it relevant to the employer or recruiter or they will stop reading it.

You need to highlight your key skills and strengths which are relevant to the role that you are applying for. Most job descriptions will include the experience and skills that the employer values most in an ideal candidate, so try to identify what is important to them and if you have the relevant experience, include it in your CV.

You must be able to sell your key achievements by demonstrating how you have added value to any previous organisations you have worked for.

Identify your achievements

Employers want to see where you have added value in your career to date. Examples of your past behaviours are seen as indicators of your future behaviour. These achievements will help you to stand out from potentially hundreds of other applicants.

  • Did you transform or implement any systems? How did this add value to the business?
  • Did you improve any processes – did this increase business efficiencies?
  • Did you identify any cost savings? How did you do this?
  • Have you identified trends and made recommendations? Did you have to influence at a senior level?
  • Have you mitigated risk? What analysis did you undertake?
  • Were you the lead in a project, if so what did you do and was the outcome?
  • Have you built a new team/division for the company?

Writing achievement statements

Writing a good, compelling achievement statement will put you on the top of the pile. Following the FAB sentence structure will help you to turn a good achievement into a great achievement:

  • (F) Feature: The way you did this. Start the sentence with a power word (e.g. consistently, successfully, actively, continually, efficiently).
  • (A) Action: What you did. Use a verb (e.g. maximised, minimised, exceeded, revitalised, created, launched, coordinated) followed by a few words describing what you did.
  • (B) Benefit: State the benefit to the company, customer etc. If you can make the benefit quantifiable this will have much more of an impact and show the employer how you can add value.
  • Example: “Continually (F) exceeded monthly personal sales targets (A), helping the team to perform over target for the first time in 5 years (B).
  • Example: “Successfully (F) organised all travel arrangements for overseas conference (A), ensuring budgets were kept to and directors minimised time wasted (B).

Applying this structure to your achievement statement is essential when producing a long list of strong, compelling achievements.

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, including helping create a CV that stands out from the crowd. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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