When I read a CV, it’s as if I’m meeting someone for the first time: I want to feel as though they jump off the page and enthusiastically shake my hand. And for that to happen, I need to easily find the most interesting information quickly, and get a good idea of the candidate in front of me.

But while it’s easy to tell a great CV from a not-so-great one just by glancing at the page, crafting a resumé that stands out takes time, dedication and a little bit of flair. Ensuring that your CV accurately and positively summarises your skills, experience and capacities is crucial to making that great first impression.
In my years working as an HR specialist, I have seen my fair share of CVs. And while having the right skills and experience for a job remains the most important factor in securing an interview, how you present them is crucial.

Here’s how to put your best foot forward and secure an interview for the job of your dreams.
Expectations and best practices differ from country to country, and in some places, including a photo on your CV is a total no-no. However, where a photo is the norm, make sure you choose it well. That means no selfies, no silly faces, and nothing pixelated. Get a professional-looking head shot that looks like you!
Pay attention to detail and make sure you use the same font, size, colour and style throughout the document. If, for example, you want to use a larger font for titles to make them stand out, that’s fine – just make sure you keep them the same size throughout.
People tend only to list their paid work experience, but voluntary work and hobbies are important, too. These give a sense of who you are and what you enjoy. Listing your out-of-the-office interests and activities, such as modern calligraphy or fly fishing, are another way to add flavour to your CV.
What you’ve done in the past should come across via your work experience, but including a separate list of your top skills helps recruiters see where you really add value. This list should be high up on your resumé, so it gets noticed during a quick first scan.
Always list your most recent work experience first, then the second-most recent, and so on. To me, the last five or six years of a person’s experience are the most important.
Include only what is relevant and reasonably recent. In some countries, this means keeping your CV to a single page. In the Middle East, up to three pages is okay. Check the local norms where you are applying and cut redundant information to make it fit.
The amount of personal information to include also varies from country to country: the norm could be to include just your name, address and phone number, or it could be frowned upon to leave out details like date of birth and marital status. Make it as short as possible, and remember that at this stage, it’s unlikely for a recruiter to need to know how many children you have or what ages they are.
Not all companies are household names, and a brief description of your past employers goes a long way. Include a line about each company, explaining what they do.
Always customize your CV to the position you’re applying for. This is not about embellishing your skills, but about showing that you understand what part of your skill set matches the job. For example, if you’re applying for an account manager role, highlight your relationship-management and people skills.

Have you ever received a Word document by email that looks like it has random extra spaces peppered throughout, or worse, is just a jumbled mess? To ensure the recruiter sees your CV the way you intended it, always send it in PDF format.
In the age of Zoom and smartphones, the number one tool for recruiters is still the good, old Curriculum Vitae. We generally want to get the right person in the right job, but sometimes see hundreds of CVs daily. So, use the opportunity to let your skills, experience and personality shine through. And make it count!  
Therese Masoud
Human Resources specialist