6 Things You Can Do To Move Your CV to the Top of the Pile

Written by Emilie Brunet on September 21, 2023

Have you applied to hundreds of job postings?

Do you feel like you’re doing everything right but still not getting called in for interviews?

As the People & Culture Manager for Journey Education, I’ve seen my fair share of CVs.

I’ve hired 11 full-time team members and 40+ contractors over the last two years.

I’ve interviewed dozens of candidates for these roles and I have read through hundreds of CVs in my role.

I keep seeing the same mistakes, over and over and over again. So here are 6 things that I recommend everyone does to get more visibility on their CV and to finally get that call in to interview.

Shorten it.

Does your CV currently look like a short story about your working life?

As an HR manager, one of the biggest mistakes I see are CVs that detail absolutely everything that a candidate has done in their life from their first job at the age of 16 to their mid-30’s.

While it’s important to highlight your accomplishments and work experience, you have to ensure you’re doing it in a way that is concise and to the point.

Recruiters and HR managers receive hundreds of CVs, if your CV is 5 to 7 pages long, it’s unlikely that it’s written in a way that clearly articulates the work that you’ve done and your accomplishments.

To shorten your CV, take the following approach:

Keeping your CV short will increase the chances that a recruiter will read through your entire CV and get exactly what they need out of it.

Make it easier to read.

If your CV looks like an essay for your grade 10 history class, you’ll need to clean that up.

How you can make it easier to read:

Fix your typos and grammar mistakes.

As someone who’s made their fair share of CV typos, I get it.

You spend all of this time making your CV, you just want to send it out — not review it for the 87th time.

But giving your CV a final look over to clean up any typos and grammar mistakes doesn’t take that long and can make a huge difference when it comes to having your CV hit the top of the pile.

If you feel like you’ve looked it over enough, have someone else take a look — a fresh pair of eyes can be super helpful in pointing out mistakes!

Unfortunately, typos and grammar mistakes have a tendency to tell the recruiter that the candidate:

  1. Is not detail-oriented
  2. Doesn’t speak the language well enough (if this is a requirement for the role)
  3. Is careless
  4. Simply doesn’t care enough about the job to put the proper effort into making a proper CV

There are some tools you can use to help with this (Grammarly is one of them).

Don’t let a “there” instead of a “their” be the reason you don’t get a job!

Develop a clear value proposition.

The “value proposition” is just a few short sentences that sit at the very top of your resume.

It gives the reader the opportunity to understand who you are, what you’re going to bring and how your unique qualities will benefit the company.

If you’ve ever written an essay in high school or university, you can think of your value proposition as the “thesis statement” of your resume.

It tells the employer what you are trying to “prove” with your resume. The rest of your resume is there to provide evidence to support this thesis statement (or value proposition).

When writing your value proposition, you can include the following:

  1. How the employer benefits – what bottom-line results can they expect to see?
  2. Supporting qualifications – experience and credentials to meet employer needs
  3. Added value – what special talents or unique qualities do you have that will benefit the employer

Optimize for ATS.

Most companies use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). And while some of these softwares are more simplistic, others use keyword search to identify whether or not a CV is in alignment with the role they are hiring for.

We recommend this website for optimizing your CV through the use of keywords.

It allows you to input your CV and the job description that you’re applying for to ensure it aligns with what keywords the employer is most likely going to be looking for.

Sometimes you might need to have different CV to align to the various jobs that you’re applying for. This can be time consuming (the apps listed above cut that time down!) but it can also make a huge difference especially if a company is using CV scanning software.

Clarify your accomplishments.

Companies don’t just want to know what responsibilities you had in your previous roles. They want to know what you accomplished in your previous role. How did you make a positive impact at the companies you’ve worked for and therefore how will you benefit their company?

You can include your accomplishments as part of the statement of your responsibilities. For example, instead of writing, “Responsible for organizing events”, you can write, “Organized 10+ events that resulted in over 100 grads being hired”

Here are some other tips that we tell our grads to be mindful of when writing their accomplishment statements:

What else have you tried?

Have you done all of these things and are still not getting bites on your CV? Let us know! We want to hear from you.

About the author

Hey, I'm Emilie 👋🏻

I'm the People & Culture Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.

Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!

My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.