'Avoid colour and provide proof': How to write a CV that no employer will want to turn down.


You’ve found your dream job and know you’d be a perfect fit for the company, but now you’ve got to submit an application that tells your future boss exactly that. And given you have just six seconds to impress a potential employer with your CV, you want to make sure you instantly stand out – for the right reasons.

We asked Susan Drew, Hays Senior Regional Director and recruiting expert for her top tips on creating a resume no employer can turn down.

Side note… watch the difference between men and women’s approach to a job interview. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

1. Check then double-check your spelling and grammar.

“Spelling errors might make the employer feel that you’re not diligent. With spell check and other means of technology, there is no reason that these sort of errors should be on your CV,” Drew told Mamamia.

Her tip is to print off your CV and review it by reading out loud as it’s easier to pick up on any mistakes. Alternatively (or additionally) get a friend or relative to cast their eye over it.

2. Sell yourself – but not too much.

Too much self-promotion could come off as arrogant and exaggerated rather than confident and capable.

“Try not to use clichés or too many flamboyant adjectives, keep it simple and use solid examples of your achievements – how you got there and the outcome,” advises Drew.


3. Tailor your CV.

A template CV is handy to have but you should be editing and tailoring it to each job you apply for to ensure you’re demonstrating how the skills you have built-in previous and current work will benefit the role you are applying for.

“Take note of keywords in the job advertisement or position description and use them when tailoring your CV. Remember to include real-life examples as proof of your abilities,” she says.

“For example, if you’re applying for a customer service based role, use a time when you handled a complaint well and retained the customer.”

4. Don’t just list, give proof.

Drew says providing proof for all your claims is the number one secret to a killer resume.

“Employers don’t want to read what you think about yourself; they want proof that you can do the job they have open,” she says.

“After all, anyone can say they are innovative, but not everyone can say they designed and delivered a new online sales booking system that increased sales by 15 per cent in the first six months!”

Other examples: “Instead of writing that you managed a team, try ‘I united and motivated a team of five underperformers. After one year our customer service scores had increased by X per cent.’”

“Rather than stating you have strong communication skills, try ‘I wrote a weekly blog that received on average X views.’”

“As opposed to writing that you always achieved your target goals, try ‘I surpassed my target goals by X per cent over the last financial year.’”


5. Prioritise your layout.

Drew says your contact details should be first, followed by a short and concise summary and then skills and experience in chronological order from your most recent role.

“Your experience section must include key achievements. You do not need to waste space on outside of work interests that do nothing to prove your ability to do the job.”

It should be no longer than one to two A4 pages.

6. Keep the design simple.

“Avoid colour and graphics. Instead, include links to examples of your work that the recruiter or hiring manager can go to for more information,” she says.

And a photo is generally not necessary.

7. You don’t have to include your referees straight up.

“Mention at the end of your CV that you can provide references, but you don’t need to include their full details. Wait until the employer requests them,” she says.

8. Export as a PDF

“Save your CV as a PDF so it can always be opened,” says Drew.

9. Don’t wait until you’re looking to update your CV.

Drew advises regularly updating your CV, even when you’re in a role. That way you can ensure it’s current and keeps track of your successes,” she says.

“Don’t wait until you’re searching for a new job and then have to remember everything. Also, make sure that your CV and online profiles, such as LinkedIn, match. If they don’t, it raises alarm bells.”


Looking to change jobs? Find more expert advice in our ultimate guide to getting the job of your dreams: