Preparing a CV on a laptop

Applying for a job is like entering a competition. Essentially you are taking part in a Battle Royale like Fortnite, and the last person standing is the victor. So how are you going to gain an advantage and survive until the end?

Your goal is to impress at every stage of the hiring process, and the first chance you’ll get is with your CV. To make sure you make a great first impression, here are the 3 things an employer looks for in a CV:

Skills, qualifications and experience

Starting with the most obvious, the employer wants to instantly see that you have what they’ve asked for. However, as obvious as this tip might sound you’d be surprised at how many job seekers fail to fully read and acknowledge the job advert.

The best way to ensure you write a CV that demonstrates the requirements of the job description is to tailor it. Although your current CV may already be industry and career specific, it doesn’t mean to say you should make amendments to match the new role and the company.

Find out more – The 10 Most Important Skills To Show On Your CV

Make note of the keywords which the employer has used and try to match them in your CV where possible. There can be lots of different ways of calling a skill or even job title, and you don’t have to be stubborn and lazy when it comes to re-writing your CV.

Don’t stick with the same generic CV for years and years, only ever updating it with your previous job and duties. Keep yours looking modern and fresh, and always amend your CV for each different company you apply too. With a brand new CV detailing the exact skills, qualifications and experience, you are far more likely to succeed.

Commercial awareness

An employer wants to read your CV and be able to instantly recognise that you know what you’re talking about. Your awareness and knowledge for the industry should be second to none, and should ooze off of the page.

Injecting commercial awareness into your CV can be done in many ways. Using the right technical jargon and industry recognised terms is a start. But you can also take another approach via your cover letter. This additional document sits very nicely as an introduction to your CV, and will allow you to further impress the employer.

Find out more – How to demonstrate commercial awareness to an employer

Use a cover letter to explain what attracted you to the position, what you have to offer, and your aspirations for the future (aligned with the employer). Within your letter you can also briefly touch upon current industry affairs.

Take care not to plagiarise – there are lots of great examples of how to write your CV and cover letter on the web but employers DO scan for plagiarism, particularly those using ATS systems. Use an online plagiarism checker such as or if you’re not sure what you have borrowed and what you have written yourself.

Your previous performances and achievements

An employer will receive lots of applications which all demonstrate the right skills, qualifications and experience. So to stand out amongst other qualified candidates you need to show how well you’ve performed in previous roles.

Having all the right credentials doesn’t mean to say that you are still good at what you do, and proving that on your CV is the key to gaining an interview. Most job seekers fail to realise this important point and will struggle to convince the employer.

But how do you demonstrate performance on a CV?

It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds, and can be done in many different ways depending on the role you’re applying for. Remember, your examples of performance and achievements need to closely relate to the role, with the exception of unique and outstanding achievements which should always be present on your CV.

Find out more – How to write Achievements in your CV

You need to show how you made an impact in your previous roles, and not just list all of the designated tasks and responsibilities. Again, this will not show the employer how well you did, and most of the time they could guess what you did based on the job title anyway.

Here’s an example of how you can demonstrate performance:

‘Made 12 sales per week on average from outbound calls’

Using numbers, revenue, sales figures, graphs, charts, and anything else you can think of to show how well you performed will be well appreciated by the hiring manager. There is a huge difference in writing this kind of CV when comparing it to a generically written one that simply lists the candidate’s life story.

BONUS TIP : CV design is important, especially with the prevalence of ATS software. Here’s a smart free CV template you can use that will make a great impression.

Carl Thomas

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