Top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd

In a busy market, standing out from the crowd can be tough

As per a recent report found here, there are on average 250 applicants for every job… So I thought it might be useful to try and give some top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd. Also including ways in which to demonstrate 4 traits that I look for in testers in your CV, to help it stand out. If 250 people are applying for the same job, then this will hopefully help your chances of moving to the next round, whatever that may be.

A CV is a personal thing, so I’m not going to explain how to style it, or structure it. I want to talk about CLIP (Communication, Learning, Inquisitiveness and Positivity) and how they can be showcased. I’ll also include some more top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd at the end.

💬💬 Communication

Communication should shine throughout. If your CV is well written and easy to read, you’ll be demonstrating your communication skills as part of this. The length of a CV is also important. The trouble is, some people think a CV should be no more than 2 pages, whereas others, 4/5. It’s a difficult one, but the more roles you have had the longer your CV should be. I do believe that it shouldn’t be more than 5 pages, but this is just my opinion. If a CV is too long, it might suggest that you have trouble being clear in your communication.

Language is also important, being able to convey the message you want. Your opening statement should be tailored to the job you are applying for, it should make the person reviewing your CV sit up and take notice. It should pull out all of the skills, experience that you have, that you believe are key to being successful in the role.

Do not copy and paste your responsibilities from one role to another, showcase your communication skills by rewording, or by not even including it at all. Showcase the things that you’re most proud of in that role, it probably isn’t the fact that you wrote test cases in Quality Center, but it might be that you “Implemented a new structure for test cases within the test case management tool to enable quicker execution time”.

Achievements should be backed up by the impact of those achievements. Don’t just say “Refactored a regression test suite” say “Refactored a test suite to run in parallel to bring execution times down by 75%, to allow for faster feedback from our automated tests”. This is important, I see a lot of CVs that just list achievements. Make it clear how those achievements helped the business, and showcase the value of testing.

👩‍🏫👨‍🏫 Learning

You’ll remember that “Every Day is a School Day” from my recent post, but how can that be demonstrated in a CV you may ask? Clearly, we’re always learning, but the key is, how has it helped you and your team? I believe this is why people are keen to get certifications, so that it demonstrates they’ve learnt X,Y or Z, or at least, learnt enough to pass the exam at the end. List your certifications, but also talk about how you’ve learnt new technology without certifications. If you’ve paired with a developer, or another tester, talk about what you learnt through that and how it helped the business/your team. If you completed a Udemy course, talk about that but then talk about how it helped the team.

Technical & Non Technical Skills

Remember as well to include not just the technical skills that you’ve learnt, but any non-technical skills that you’ve learnt along the way as well. You can do all this in a dedicated skills section in your CV, but in your skills section, don’t be afraid to include how you learnt the skill, and where you applied it. Skills sections that list endless list of skills do not add much value and it’s difficult to gauge just how proficient people are, but by including how you learnt it, and where you’ve used it will help give an idea.

This might sound like you are bragging, but remember, this is your CV, this is your chance to sell yourself to the people reading your CV.

❓❔ Inquisitiveness

This is a difficult one to demonstrate in your CV, at least explicitly. One thing I do like to see is how people make the most of communities, or learn from others. It’s also why I’d include things like my LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile and my website on my CV so that people can go and look at it.

Clearly if someone has listed the skills they have developed, but most importantly, how proficient they are in those skills and how they used those skills, then that will demonstrate a level of inquisitiveness and a level of determination that they want to further their knowledge and skillset.

Describe your interesting hobbies, but only hobbies that are genuine hobbies. I’ve seen many CVs that have interesting hobbies that make me read a bit more of their CV to find out more, as it shows they’re an interesting person.

➕➕ Positivity

Do not talk about problems in your CV, talk about the positive achievements that you’ve achieved in your career. Remember, it is your CV, it is your sales pitch to the people looking to hire you. Try and keep the language in a CV positive. I think by highlighting the above in Communication, and even Learning and Inquisitiveness, it highlights your own positivity traits.

This is probably one that is easier to demonstrate in the recruitment process. Once you’re talking to someone, you can exude your positivity and confidence and really shine through.

Some more top tips to make your CV stand out

Clearly, there are many ways that you can make your CV stand out. Some other top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd are:

  • ✅✅ Spell Check – Utilise spell check. Both the automated Word spellchecker, but also, other people reading CV can help spot grammatical errors that spell check might have missed.
  • 🧑🧑 Personality – Showcase the things that make you unique. Why should they speak to you over the other person. Make the opening summary unique to you and personalised to the job that you’re applying for.
  • 📄📄 Office/Windows/OS Experience – Unless important for the role you are applying for, don’t talk about what OS you have experience in. I reviewed a CV the other day with Windows 98/200/XP on there, nothing more recent.

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself for everything on your CV “Will this help me get noticed?”

  • ©© Do not copy and paste – I’ve mentioned it before, but responsibilities/achievements in one job, whilst they may be similar to others, do not just copy and paste them. Elaborate on them, talk about what the business outcomes were. Really sell yourself.
  • 👧👦 Communities – Showcase communities that you’re part of, how they help you in your job. Have you got a blog? Are you active on twitter? Have you done any public speaking, put it all on your CV. Share your LinkedIn profile, your twitter handle, whatever helps people get to know you.
  • 👁👁 Pleasing on the eye – Your CV should be easy to read. It should be easy to look at and pleasing on the eye. Make the most of the page, don’t just have one huge list.

I like Nicola Lindgrens YouTube video recently reviewing her first CV. Talking about if it would help her get a job now. If you get time, take a look! 👀👀 There is also a great CV Tips document from Leigh Rathbone, which I can strongly recommend reading!

Do you have any top tips to make your CV stand out from the crowd? If so leave a comment below! 💬💬

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