Career Development

5 Easy Ways To Optimise Your CV To Beat 99% Of The Market

1/ Create a killer hook

The first thing you need to do when optimising your CV is to start with a bang.

This means writing a powerful opening statement that will grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. Think about what you want to achieve with your CV and what kind of impression you want to make on the reader.

Then, craft an opening statement that will help you achieve those goals.

What we want is less of this…

“I’m a hardworking, determined, trustworthy, resilient professional with 20 years of experience in xyz industry. I’m reliable, able to multitask and blah, blah, blah”

This is what 99% of people write.

Do you really think your reader wants to read the same thing they’ve read thousands of time? It’s not going to get their attention.

And, attention is what we want to grasp.

Here’s a better version…

“Hey, I’m Andres. I’m a high-performing software engineer with a journey of nearly 20 years working with some of the worlds leading technology brands.

I partner with teams to build world-class products in an ever-changing landscape. I’ve collected a bag of skills and experience that enable me to be a leader in my field and I’d love the opportunity to bring these to [insert company name].”

How does that flow?

It’s personable and different to the 99%. This is what we want.

2/ Focus on achievements and skills, not responsibilities

Too many people use the same structure of sharing a massive list of their current job responsibilities as the advertisement for a new role.

It’s basically just a copy-and-paste job from your current job description. Yet, this is a rubbish approach to advertise you and your skills. Employers don’t care if you were responsible for producing budget reports, but they do care about the level of your Excel skills to do this task.

I get this might sound counterintuitive to the ‘normal’ framework you know. But normal is not going to separate you from the 99%.

My recommendation here is to think about how you can move these typical responsibility sections from what to how. Which means not just talking about what you do but how you do it. We want to flip your narrative from tasks to wins.

Let your reader know the wins they can get if they choose you.

As an example…

Typical example = “I’m responsible for creating reports for our senior management team”

And when we put it through our “make it better’ machine…

“I use Tableau and Excel to build simple dashboards for our senior management team to understand our growth trends as an organisation and identify areas for improvement.”

Let’s talk about why this works.

This sentence provides 4 key points to the reader. A showcase of your skills, what you do, who for and the benefits you provide. And all in one sentence!

Here’s a visual example to demonstrate this.

“I use Tableau and Excel to build simple dashboards for our senior management team to understand our growth trends as an organisation and identify areas for improvement.”

3/ Use keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that are associated with the job you are applying for.

They play a crucial part in getting your profile noticed and keeping the reader’s attention. For example, if you are applying for a job in marketing, some relevant keywords might be ‘marketing strategy’, ‘brand awareness’, or ‘customer acquisition’. By including these keywords on your CV, you will increase the chances of your CV being found by recruiters who are searching for candidates with those specific skills and experience.

This works for both when recruiters, or perhaps AI recruiting tools, search databases and the text within your CV directly.

This is exactly the same as when you type a term into Google.

Your search query is used as a set of keywords to help identify the best content for your query. So, if you searched for “quickest ways to cook an egg”, Google recognises that you want to know how to cook an egg in the quickest way possible. This will return content that fits this specific intent.

We can apply the same principles to a CV.

If a role requires marketing expertise with SEO and content marketing, these are the keywords that need to feature across your CV. Now, don’t go crazy with this. You want to weave this in like a human, not a robot.

Keywords can enable optimisation that pushes your profile to the top of the pile.

4/ Tailor your CV

An often underused optimisation technique is to make small but powerful tweaks to your CV based on the role you’re applying for.

This is why having a few versions of your CV on file is beneficial. One you can use as the standard template to share on LinkedIn and open job boards, and others for those specific roles you directly apply to. You can’t use just one method and hope to get a win rate 100% of the time.

You want to optimise your CV so that it highlights the skills and experience that are most relevant to the role you are applying for.

This shows employers that you have taken the time to research their company and understand what they are looking for in a candidate. It also shows that you are serious about getting the job and willing to put in the extra effort required to stand out from other candidates.

This is how you stand out from the 99%. Design for your specific audience to get better results.

5/ Keep it concise, but useful

For today’s CV reviews, less is definitely more.

The attention of others is the biggest currency we are all trying to get more of. Our attention spans are so short these days that even goldfish might read your cv longer than a recruiter or AI tools. So, you need to keep your CV short, sweet and to the point.

No one needs to read an essay on each of your previous roles.

Typically, readers only spend a few seconds scanning each CV they receive, so it is important to make sure that yours is easy to read and digestible in a short amount of time.

Stick to two pages or less when possible, and use clear headings and bullet points with your keywords so they can quickly find the information they are looking for. You can list previous roles in a short list at the end of your CV with dates if you’d like. But drop the detailed content.

Time for you to optimise and beat the market

Ok, now it’s game time.

You’ve got this far so you must be serious. Now it’s time to put into practice what you’ve learnt here. Schedule time in the next week to review your CV with this insight and ask yourself “Can I optimise this for better results?”.

I hope these tips can help you land your next role and take control of your career.

All the best, folks.

If you want more insights like this, you might like these:

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

Leave a Reply