Is your CV an autobiography or a best seller?

Laptop screen saying 'We're hiring!'

Standing out in a sky-high pile of job applicants comes down to how you craft your Curriculum Vitae – the book about your career.

Katherine Wiid of Career Ambitions comments:

As a career management coach I am working with so many people who are having to find a new job due to being made redundant or are working on their CV while on furlough “just in case.”

When we first meet they are typically in ‘fight or flight’ mode - worrying about how they will pay their mortgage, feed their children, run their car. This is perfectly normal and to be expected considering the uncertainty we are all facing. However, they are focusing all their attention on themselves in their instinct to survive which leads to tunnel vision and being inward looking. In an over-crowded job market, we need to do the exact opposite – we need to look outwards.

With jobs in higher demand than ever as a result of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crash, thousands of candidates are now competing for each role advertised. This makes it more important than ever to ensure your job application stands out from the crowd.

Take a minute to step into the other side’s shoes. If you were the decision maker or HR manager hiring, facing an avalanche of CVs, what would you be looking for? What would make your job easier?

To ensure you’re putting yourself top of the pile when applying for a new job, I recommend 3 tests to apply to your CV:

Is it focused

Is your CV written like an autobiography? If it’s all about what you want and what you have done then you are veering close to it being an autobiography rather than a best seller. To stand out, you need to think like a marketeer. Who is the reader of your CV likely to be and what matters to Them?

By segmenting your audience, you can tailor your CV so that is focuses on their needs and how you can help them. For many of us this is difficult to do as it means leaving out a lot of things that we are proud of and have done. However, by focusing on the purpose of your CV which is it get you an interview, which would you rather write?

Is it relevant

Take time to research each organisation and job role thoroughly before applying. There’s little point taking a spray and pray approach and sending a CV off in the hope that someone at the other end will see where and how you might fit the role. You need to help them to help you.

Understand as much as you can about the company, and the role - and where your skills fit in so you can highlight your relevant transferable skills. This is especially important when the jobs available might not be an exact replica of your previous role.

Is it evidenced

Every time you’ve written “I am a [confident / highly successful…]” strike it out! This is subjective. It’s an assertion. How does the reader of your CV know that you are these things? Think of the evidence to show you are these things by replacing a list of tasks with achievements. Writing stories to evidence why, what and how you used a specific skill and what the results were are worth their weight in gold.

These are three tests will ensure that every job application you send gets to the top of the pile. By making your CV appeal to the right eyes, you can ensure that your time unemployed is no longer than it needs to be, and that your journey back into the world of work is a smooth one.

If you need support getting back into the world of work, or just want to ask a question about how best to find a new career opportunity - get in touch with Katherine at Career Ambitions.


Based in Cambridge, Career Ambitions has a strong reputation for enabling highly-trained and talented individuals to get through major career change, redundancy and/or indecision to realise their career potential and meet their ambitions.

Career Ambitions