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I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen tens of thousands of CV’s throughout my career. By now, I’ve got a pretty good barometer on what makes a good CV. Here are my 5 tips to improve your CV and increase your chances on making it to the “yes” pile:

5 tips to improve your CV:

1. Personal Contact Details

All you need is a mobile number and an email address. That’s all. The suburb you live in, your marital status and other personal information should be irrelevant. In a market where you are competing against a lot of very good candidates, you should eliminate every possibility to be discounted. For example: if you are applying for a position in Sydney but your address is Gosford, the employer may make assumptions that you are not willing to commute long term and therefore…. you end up in the shredder.

2. Skill Summary

On the front page – this is really important and needs to reflect your skills that relate to the position you are applying for. Present this with bullet points, not paragraphs or even sentences. Put them in 2 or 3 columns. Make sure the most relevant skills are at the top and don’t bother putting down skills that are completely unrelated. Example: If applying for a Project Manager role, your ability to read tarot cards is not something you need to highlight in your skills summary (yes, I’ve seen it!)

3. Career Summary

Again, get this on your front page – Dates, Position and Organisation. This summary will tell a story about your career. No need to go back too far. Your next job is most likely to come from your experience in the last 10-15 years.


  • Mar 2011 – present       Project Manager                             XYZ Corporation
  • Jun 2010 – Feb 2011      Project Scheduler (contract)        ABC Limited
  • Jun 2009 – Jun 2010      Maternity leave
  • Jan 2005 – June 2009     Business Analyst                          123 Partners

4. Less is More

There is a balance between giving enough information but not too much.

✔ Project Lead for the successful implementation of a new CRM solution in a complex enterprise environment. Delivered on time and within budget.

✘ I joined the project at a time when it was experiencing many challenges such as … blah blah… and I met with a very difficult stakeholder 3 times a week… blah (you see where this is going…)

Don’t provide so much detail that there is nothing left to discuss at interview. Give the employer enough information that they want to meet you to find out more. Keep some surprises up your sleeve. The story behind your achievements is interesting but it is often best saved for the interview.

5. No Photo

No, never, just NO! Unless the application specifically asks for a photo, don’t be tempted to include it. Photos belong in the LinkedIn domain not on your CV. While on the subject of images – graphs, company logos and the like should be left off too.


Your CV should be a living document and this will develop and change over time. Invest some time in getting it right and you will reap the benefits. Give it to a trusted friend to critique. Better still, ask a recruitment specialist to provide you with some feedback. Others will often recognise skills and achievements that you may have overlooked yourself.

Now start getting ready for that interview… more tips on this to follow.

About the Author

Find out about Julie Gearie here.

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