How to Make Your CV Stand Out

Ensuring your CV stands out from those of other candidates is the crucial first step in getting an interview. With fewer management consultancy firms currently recruiting, competition for jobs is fierce.

The following is a checklist of the essential points to make your CV stand out:

1. Think Like a CV Reviewer

Put yourself in the shoes of a busy person reviewing your CV or your future boss doing so! Focus on making it clear and relevant to the job and career you want.

2. Seven-Second Rule

Can someone see your career history, skills, and relevance for the role within seven seconds? Avoid anything ambiguous or confusing.

3. Tailor Each CV

Customise your CV for each role. This shouldn’t be time-consuming if the role is a good fit. Quick tweaks can make a big difference. Tools like Jobscan are worth considering. ChatGPT can also help but requires careful scrutiny to ensure the content is accurate and not obviously AI-generated.

4. Use Keywords in your CV

Include relevant keywords and phrases to pass Applicant Tracking Systems and engage CV reviewers. If you need to stretch the truth, reconsider whether to apply! Don’t overload with keywords: keep it clear and simple.

5. Keep Your CV Concise

Aim for one to two pages, with a maximum of three. Information from more than 8-10 years ago should be brief, focusing on your career trajectory with headline details about employers and job titles.

Career Summary on a management consultantancy candidate CVs

6. Essential Information

Include your mobile number, email address, academic background, relevant qualifications, LinkedIn URL (ensure it supports your CV), and possibly nationality/right to work status.

7. Highlight Clients and Projects

For management consultants, list relevant recent work to showcase achievements, industry knowledge, experience, and your role in projects.

8. Get a Second Opinion

Ask someone you trust to review your CV and provide honest, informed feedback.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

1. Excessively Long CV

Avoid long CVs. Recently, we received a 21-page CV, but even 5 or more pages are too many. Good presentation skills and emotional intelligence are key in many roles: show this by keeping your CV to 1-3 pages.

2. Typos and Errors

Ensure your CV is error-free. Mistakes are unacceptable in such an important document, especially in a field that values attention to detail.

3. Inaccurate Employer and Job Titles

Use correct names and titles. For example, it’s “PricewaterhouseCoopers,” or “PwC” not “PriceWaterHouseCoopers” or “PWC.” Ensure job titles are accurate: it’s “Principal Consultant not “Principle Consultant”

4. Lack of Consistency with LinkedIn

Make sure your CV matches your LinkedIn profile. Discrepancies can raise questions about accuracy/attention to detail and integrity.

5. Poor CV format

Structure your CV so that people can find the information they’re looking for easily.

6. Weird Format

Stick to conventional formats. Avoid using PowerPoint, image files, or landscape layouts, as these can both put off the CV reviewer and disrupt Applicant Management Systems.

7. Lack of Clarity

Don’t make the reviewer have to ask questions. Who is that employer? What do they do? What did you do in that gap? Was that role permanent or interim? Why do those dates overlap? What were your main clients and projects? What is your Right to Work/Nationality?

8. No Contact Information

Ensure your CV contains your contact details: putting them in your email isn’t enough.

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See the Candidate Services section of our Guides for a wealth of information and advice to help with your job search.

For more information on the job market, or to discuss your hiring or career plans please contact Chris Sale, Managing Director, Prism Executive Recruitment via [email protected]


Our top three tips: 1. Think Like a CV Reviewer, or your future boss! 2. Can someone see your career history, skills, and relevance in seven seconds? 3. Use Keywords in your CV
Top tips: 1) Avoid long CVs: max 3 pages 2) Check your CV is error-free 3) Make sure your CV matches your LinkedIn profile
Get someone else to look at it.

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