How to Write a Top CV that Will Land You an Interview (2021)

How to Write a Top CV that Will Land You an Interview (2021)


As promised, today we are paying full attention to the basics of CV writing! First impressions count, and your CV is often the recruiter's first impression of you, so it’s important to make sure it’s a positive one! A winning CV should outline all of your relevant skills and experience related to the role that you are applying for. Your CV should highlight why you are the perfect person for the job! Let’s see how to put this advice into practice in our CV writing starter pack below. 

Preparing your CV can be a time-consuming process, especially as we recommend adapting your CV to each position that you are applying for. CV preparation is a key part of your job searching process and it requires time, effort, and dedication! By adapting your CV slightly to each position, you are significantly increasing your chances of being selected for an interview. Every job advert is unique, some may include more keywords than others, some may be more technical and contain different tasks and responsibilities, so it's important to familiarise yourself with each job advert before applying for the position. A small change in your CV can make a big difference!

Here are the things you should consider when writing your CV: 

  1. Making a Good First Impression 
  2. The Structure of Your CV
  3. Prepare for Recruiters' Tech 


1. Making a Good First Impression 

The appearance of your CV is extremely important, it determines whether your CV is read or not. A recruiter will be much more inclined to read a CV that is well-structured and neat rather than a CV that is untidy, regardless of their experience. As we will discuss tomorrow, there are general 'do's and don'ts' per country and if your CV doesn't meet their desired format, it's harder for your CV to pass this initial stage of the application process. Recruiters work their way through hundreds and hundreds of CV's, so when a CV doesn't look the part, it's likely to be discarded!


  • Only 6 seconds to impress 

According to Top CV, your CV must pass the 6-second test. The 6-second test is the estimated amount of time that each recruiter spends reading over a single CV. With such little time to prove yourself, it’s crucial that you create a CV that is easy on the eyes and invites the recruiter to continue reading. Your CV should display professionalism with clear font size and style.

  • Length matters

When it comes to the length of your CV, less is more! If you are a graduate or someone who has a small amount of experience, one page is a suitable length for your CV. For anyone else more experienced, we advise a 2-page maximum length. The content of your CV should be career-specific and should include only relevant skills and experience. Check out these different examples of effective CVs - traditional, entry-level, career change, management, international and more!   

  • Stay specific to your sector

The appearance of your CV can differ significantly depending on your job sector and background. For example, someone who has been working in Advertising for the past 10 years may have a more traditional-looking CV than someone who has just graduated in Digital Marketing. As we have mentioned previously, a good CV should highlight your key skills and tell the recruiter exactly why they should hire you, therefore if you are a Graphic Designer, you should incorporate your design skills into your CV. Without drawing the attention away from the content of your CV, you can add some personal branding to your CV to show off your creative abilities. Here are some examples of CVs per sector to give you an idea of how yours should look!


The Structure Of Your CV


Although some recruiters may be open to a slightly different order, this order is recognised by most recruiters across Europe and most recruitment technology. We recommend following the structure below and sticking to a maximum length of 2-pages. 


1. Your Contact Details

Include your key contact details; Name, address, phone number/s, email address, and one or two relevant URLs - LinkedIn, WordPress etc. 

2. Personal Summary/Header

We recommend writing your CV from either a 1st or 3rd person perspective. Use this summary section to outline what you can offer and why you are suited to this position. Make sure that you tailor this summary to each role that you apply for. If you are thinking of changing careers or you are just starting your career, use this section to explain why you are changing your career and what skills you hope to apply in your new career.

  • Example: Career change: I have worked in the Banking industry for 5 years. Recently, I have decided to take a Master's in Marketing in order to change my career path. I plan to transfer my Analytical skills into my new career as an SEO Assistant...

  • Example: Starting career: I have recently graduated from the University of Barcelona with a first-class honours degree in Graphic Design. I intend to use the skills I have learnt during my graphic design, animation, marketing, and web design modules and apply them in my next position as a Designer. I am looking for an opportunity to apply my Digital Marketing and Graphic Design skills in a fast-paced environment...

3. Your Skills & Languages

Use bullet points to outline your key skills, include around 8-10 skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Try to match these keywords to words used within the job description. 

Add any languages that you know to this section too, and your language level. This immediately displays your impressive multilingual skills and shows that you meet the requirements of the position!

4. Your Experience

Outline your most recent experience first, followed by a reverse-chronological order of your job positions. This should resemble a timeline of your experience, preferably displaying clear career progression, and should date back to 10-15 years MAXIMUM!  

Include company name, job title, dates of employment, and a short description of the role enriched with strong keywords and your daily tasks listed in a bullet point format. 

Avoid leaving any gaps, if you went travelling, then mention this!

If you are a graduate without work experience, outline your course, your learnings, the skills you developed, and any key experiences. 

5. Education & Qualifications

The education and qualifications that you should include in your CV differ depending on how experienced a candidate is. For instance, if you have just graduated, it will be much more beneficial for you to add your A levels or College results than someone who has been working for 30 years. 

Include course/qualification name, name of organisation/school/university, dates of attendance, your grades, and if you can gain value from mentioning specific modules or subjects that you studied, add them, too! 

Add any qualifications or certifications that you have gained through employment here too, such as Online Marketing Courses etc. 

6. Interests 

If you have just finished school or University, it's more common to add an 'Interests' section to give your CV more depthAdd interests/hobbies that make you stand out as a desirable candidate, such as, 'organising local charity events', 'working as a volunteer for a travel magazine', 'running a half marathon every month and raising money for different charities', - These interests and hobbies highlight motivational, organisational and leadership skills rather than 'I like shopping, partying, and sunbathing' -  These interests will bring little value to a company and resemble a lazy, unmotivated individual. 

7. Volunteering & Personal Projects

In the 'Extras' section, you can also add Internships, Volunteering opportunities, Personal projects such as websites, shops, events. Anything that you think will help you to stand out to an employer in a positive light!

Remember: When it comes to Education and Qualifications, this order can differ depending on the country so make sure you come back tomorrow to be 100% sure!


Prepare for Recruiters' Tech 

Nowadays, it’s becoming much more common for a robot to read your CV. This may sound crazy, but companies are using automation to speed up their recruitment process and to help them stay organised! Companies all around the world are using this technology as a part of their screening process to help recruiters. Adding this technology to the initial screening process means that your CV is often scanned by robots/technology before being seen by a recruiter. For this reason, it's very important for your CV to be fully optimised to pass this initial screening stage! It has become a recent trend for companies to adopt this advanced technology as a way of automating their recruitment process, saving their significant time and money dedicated to the recruitment process.


  • Use Keywords

As some employers use automation in this initial stage of the recruitment process, it's important to use keywords as this is what the robots/technology are usually scanning for. It’s important to keep in mind which keywords are used within the job description and the candidate specification and to use these throughout your CV. 

  • Keep it traditional 

To increase the chances of your CV being seen, use popular job titles rather than unusual and quirky ones. For instance, if your job title is ‘Social Media Master’ or ‘Social Media Guru’ it’s much more beneficial and effective to use ‘Social Media Expert’ or ‘Social Media Manager’. Using a more general job title will increase the chances of your CV being seen by the recruiter.

  • Remember to spell check 

As we have just explained, it’s not always humans who are reading your CVs! Of course, some humans are more accepting of spelling and grammar mistakes than others, but unfortunately, robots are not! Having one misspelt keyword could significantly ruin your chances of being hired. Make sure that you check your spelling and grammar multiple times to avoid these mistakes!

  • Get a proofreader 

To avoid any CV mistakes, ask a friend or family member to check over your CV. It's always good to get a second pair of eyes to make sure you didn't miss any key mistakes that could ruin the chances of being invited to an interview. 

  • Use a CV Review Service

The best way to ensure that your CV is fully optimised is to use a CV review service. CV review services offer expert feedback on your CV in terms of appearance and content. Each new candidate that registers on our job board has the opportunity to receive a free CV review by Top CV. Register now and take advantage. 

Now you know what contact details to include, which sections are most important, and how to order them. Make sure that you research keywords related to your industry and key job titles. It’s important that you follow our CV advice to pass the 6-second test and to pass the recruitment technology! Remember, although the structure remains more or less the same, different rules apply to different countries. Come back tomorrow for The CV Dos & Don'ts for each country...