How to write a stand out CV (with advice and templates)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

When you're writing a job application, it's important to tailor its contents to reflect both its recipient and your own experience. You might adapt your writing or formatting styles to suit an employer's specifications, or to prove your suitability for the position. By following this advice, you might make your application appear more impressive in a crowded field. In this article, we impart advice on producing a stand out CV, before providing three example templates written for different job search scenarios.

How to write a stand out CV

The following section provides three useful tips on producing a stand out CV:

1. Use formal language

It's important that you use formal language throughout a CV, to reflect the relative seniority of its recipient. By taking this approach, you convey due respect for the efforts an employer has expended to progress their career. Employers may then be more inclined to recognise your professional qualities, boosting your chances of securing a formal interview.

By writing formally, you can also demonstrate respect for your prospective colleagues, acknowledging your place within a larger network of individuals. Employers may then take your application more seriously if they believe you're likely to work well within a team.

**Related: Your guide to public sector jobs**

2. Be persuasive

It's also important that you're a persuasive writer, selecting all words carefully to maximise their impact. By ensuring your language is persuasive and refined, you can bolster your claims of competence with first-hand evidence through the quality of your CV. You might also research the firm's corporate ethos, before stating how you're well-suited to help shareholders achieve their goals.

You might also reflect upon your relationship with your CV's recipient. You may then adapt your writing style to suit their character, and the nature of your professional relationship with them. For example, if you're applying for a promotion with your current employer, you might discuss how you're well-suited to a role thanks to your in-house experience. Conversely, when applying for a job elsewhere, you might write in a more formal style, stating your professional qualities without being overly emotive.

Related: Understanding the four main writing styles

3. Acknowledge your limitations

Whatever position you're applying for, it's important that you can acknowledge your professional limitations. By doing so, you give employers a better sense of your personality, which they may use to predict what you might be like as an employee. You also appear an honest individual, willing to analyse your behaviour as much as anyone else's. It's useful to mention any action you're taking to rectify your weaknesses.

For example, if you suffer from general anxiety, you might sometimes find it difficult to complete work by an allotted deadline. Employers might respect your honesty, before making allowances to ensure you can work effectively if you're hired. You might also mention any action you're taking to reduce your stress, such as meditating or exercising.

Related: List of weaknesses: 10 things to say in an interview

CV templates

It's important that you tailor your CV to reflect both your own experience and the position's specifications. By taking this approach, you can ensure your application is eye-catching relative to other candidates, potentially securing a job as a result. The section below provides three CV templates, each written for a distinct job search scenario:

Teenager's CV

If you're applying for part-time roles as a teenager, you may possess no prior paid work experience. In this situation, you may emphasise your secondary education, alongside any extracurricular activities you take part in. You might structure this template as follows:

[Full name]
[Home address]
[Phone number]
[Email address]

Summary

[It's important that you acknowledge your inexperience and the initial inconvenience employers may face by training you. You can then try to minimise this problem by presenting yourself as a disciplined person, willing to work hard to build practical experience.]

Education

[If you lack work experience, you might instead focus on your school activities. If you're in sixth form, you might briefly list your GCSE grades, alongside the subjects you're studying at A-Level. By doing so, you offer employers a better insight into your personality, alongside whether you're a suitable fit for their firm.]

Extracurricular activities

[After detailing your education, you may focus on any extracurricular activities you're undertaking, alongside the useful skills you've built up as a result. For example, if you're a member of the Explorer Scouts, you might mention any group-based activities you've led, such as orienteering or camping trips. You might then explain how you used these experiences to develop relevant key skills, such as organisation or leadership.]

Key skills

[In this section, you can use bullet points to list your key skills, such as time management, communication or critical thinking. You can also briefly explain how you might use these skills to good effect when working for the company.]

Related: Writing a CV with no experience

Career change CV

If you're changing your career mid-life, you may possess no prior work experience in your new industry. You might nonetheless benefit from highlighting other work experience, as you may have acquired transferable skills relevant to your new job. If you're studying for a degree in your new field, you might also emphasise your current studies. You can format this template as follows:

[Full name]
[Home address]
[Phone number]
[Email address]
[Professional social media]

Summary

[Here you may explain why you're changing career mid-life, focusing on future opportunities rather than any grievances with past employers. You might also briefly state how you're prior work experience relates to the role you're applying for.]

Work experience

[Here you can mention your past jobs at length, discussing key skills you earned and how they relate to your new career. For example, if you're changing careers from retail to teaching, you might discuss your skills as a communicator. If you became adept at handling customer complaints, it's useful to explain how you might adapt this skill to teaching pupils, such as answering work-related questions.]

Education

[If you're currently studying for a new degree, you might detail course content, such as your coursework and modules you've completed. You can then explain how you're using this course to accrue technical knowledge relevant to your career change. If your new career doesn't involve earning a degree, you may instead outline your academic history, such as your professional certifications.]

Key skills

[In this section, you can use bullet points to list your transferable skills, before stating how they're relevant to your new career path.]

Related: How to change careers

Public sector CV

If you're applying for public sector positions, it's important to demonstrate competence in your professional field, such as town planning. You might do so by emphasising your experience at university, alongside listing several academic references to affirm your credentials. You can follow the template below when formatting this CV:

[Full name]
[Home address]
[Phone number]
[Email address]
[Professional social media]

Summary

[You can develop a narrative of yourself as a competent professional with extensive industry knowledge. You can also explain why you're motivated to work in the public sector, whether to improve others' lives or follow your professional passion.]

Education

[In this section, you might discuss your university education at length, detailing any interesting experiences and the skills you built up as a result. For example, if you're applying for a civil service role, you may possess a degree in a related subject, such as politics. You may then discuss how you enhanced your critical thinking skills when researching essays. You can transfer this skill to civil service work, such as developing evidence-based government policy.]

Work experience

[If you're a recent graduate, you might hold no prior industry-specific work experience. You can nonetheless mention part-time experience in other industries, such as retail or tourism. It's important to discuss the skills you earned here as they relate to your professional career. For example, if you aim to become a civil servant, you might mention past experience working as a museum tour guide. Here you can develop both leadership and communication skills, to inform visitors about different exhibits without confusion. You can transfer both these skills to a civil service career.]

References

[It's important that you offer at least two academic references backing up your statements from the previous section. By doing so, you ensure that employers can both verify your claims and gain further insight into your personality traits. You also prove yourself to be an honest person, worthy of a chance to begin a professional career. You might then find it easier to secure work quickly.]

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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