best cv language

The Best CV Language

How do you get your CV to stand out? What is the best way to catch the attention of a potential employer and get the desired invite to interview? This article covers the best CV language to use to get the best result.

Short, Sharp and Eye-catching

The purpose of the CV (curriculum vitae) is to give the employer the opportunity to see if you have the skills and experience for the role they are looking for. You want to catch their eye so that they want to hear more and meet you, in person, at an interview. This is not the place to go into a lot of detail.  It needs to be short, sharp and eye-catching. No storytelling should be done here!

Your CV should not be any more than two sides of A4, so you need to keep sentences succinct, without losing impact. The aim of the CV is to show your potential, your transferable skills and what you as an individual will bring to their company.

Whilst a CV is a general overview, it is worthwhile before you submit it to different employers to make any tweaks ensuring that the language you have used is relevant to the role you are applying for. Mirror the language used in the advert and check that any criteria that is detailed in the advert, is covered in your CV.

Strong and Powerful

The language you use should be positive, strong and powerful.  Your aim is to stand out as the strongest candidate, not just a suitable candidate.  Check that the words you have used give this impression.

This is particularly important in your opening profile section. This is the first section the person is going to read, so you need to grab their attention right from the start. This should be a strong and powerful opening statement.  Ensure that you use words such as;-

  • Confident
  • Experienced
  • Initiative
  • Lead
  • Engaged
  • High performing
  • Enthusiastic
  • Positive
  • Innovative
  • Organised
  • Adaptable
  • Resilient

Use examples where there is space for you to do so to reinforce the skills and experience you have listed. This will help strengthen and evidence your statements.

Be Positive

The CV is not a place to highlight areas of development or gaps in your skills.   Check that your CV does not contain any ‘negative’ statements.  Remove any words that weaken the statement such as;-

  • I have some experience
  • I believe I can
  • I am told I can
  • I have only worked

Explain gaps in employment but keep it positive and relevant. Don’t overshare information that is not required at this stage.

Assume Nothing

Avoid abbreviations unless you are 100% sure that the person reading your CV will know what it is. Common English language abbreviations such as, i.e., e.g., etc. would be suitable, but abbreviations or acronyms that are used in your previous roles would not be appropriate.

Write your examples in full, don’t assume that the person reading your CV will know what is required, what the task entails or the level of responsibility you worked at. You can verify this by asking someone to give your CV a ‘simple test’.  Pick someone who you have not worked with and who does not understand the roles you have worked in and ask them to read your CV and identify any areas you need to clarify or add further detail.

Don’t forget to include the skills that are transferable. It may not be direct experience, but if you have used the skills elsewhere, ensure that these are highlighted.

Be Authentic – demonstrate the ‘true you’

What is your USP? (Unique Selling Point) What makes you stand out from other candidates?
Are you happy that this comes across in your CV?

When you talk about your hobbies and interests, mention those that show characteristics that are important to the role. For example, if the role requires you to work as part of a team, mention hobbies and interests that demonstrate this such as team sports. This is the place where you let them see your character, but also ethics, morals and values. If you are a volunteer or involved in charity or youth work, then this is your opportunity to get this across.

When you detail your hobbies and interests read it back and ask yourself what does it tell them about you? Is this the impression you want to give?

Good Luck! When (not if) you are invited for the interview, check out the Zing 365 Top Tips on How To Get Hired

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