An HR Insider’s Guide To Making Your CV Matter

We all know resumes MATTER.  The resume is the only real window to show a hiring manager what you are REALLY all about.  You get 1-2 pages to describe your entire career, show what makes you different, and illustrate all of this in punchy one-liners.  A vast majority of resumes are missing the mark.  Why?  Writing and branding your work is essentially advertising.  And unless you are in advertising, it is REALLY hard to dig deep and come up with what makes you REALLY you.   Lets dig in and help you with your resume advertising campaign.

Here are 3 common resume problems with practical solutions to help make your resume MATTER:

1) Formatting Issues

In my days of recruiting and reviewing resumes, my biggest frustration was an unformatted or unedited resume.  I am talking about the details on font, bolding, font size, and these details do matter. This is the first impression you are giving a potential employer.  Make it attractive.  Make it nice to look at and easy to follow.


§  Make sure you use only one font on your resume.

§  Make formatting consistent.  If you BOLD your job title, you should do this for all job titles listed on your resume.

§  Have a detail oriented friend look at your resume for formatting errors BEFORE sending out to any employers.

2) Action Words Don’t Match Your Level   

The words you pick on your resume do matter in describing your role in your work experiences.  As we progress in our career, it becomes critical to update our resume to BEST reflect our expanding skills, experiences and accomplishments.  Try to avoid starting with collaborate or coordinate.  Those words are vague in describing your specific role.  Use stronger words that describe your role in leading, directing, managing, and supporting.  For example, in support role you can use words that clearly describe your role like analyzed, organized, and prepared.


§  Look for clues in job descriptions that align with your scope of work. You want to accurately to advertise what you do in your current position.

§  Use these two resources to upgrade your action words:



3) Lacking Accomplishments with #’s  

The founder of Talent Rocket, Chris Platts, says that your resume is really there to facilitate a great discussion in the interview.   When your resume is packed with accomplishments, your resume illustrates what you have done & what you can do in your next role.  Your accomplishments make you different from other candidates.  In order to land interviews, you MUST create a strong advertising campaign using accomplishments with #s.  As an HR professional, I have found multiple ways to integrate numbers into my resume over the years.  This includes survey results, scope of work, size of team, and impact of project on how many people.

Many job candidates think that they need to include everything for each role on their resume.  Your opportunity is to showcase your BEST stuff … not all the stuff. 


§  Each item listed under a position starts with an action word.  Then list something you did with the result/impact to the team/business.  In the interview, you discuss the HOW.

Spearheaded the ____________, resulting in ________________

Led ____________, which improved/increased _______________.

§  Complete this exercise below:

You have three minutes: start jotting down your accomplishments for your most recent position. Write down any accomplishment, contribution or achievement that comes to mind, even if it seems insignificant.   Do this for all of your positions – 3-5 minutes each.

o    Where do you get recognition for boss/peers (formal awards, performance reviews, or even an e-mail thank you counts as recognition)

o    When have you been asked to take on a special assignment?

o    What are you known for?

Use your initial draft list of accomplishments, and start to create draft bullet points.  After your initial draft within your resume, click save and revisit the list a day later.  You now can do final wording and edits with a fresh set of eyes.

This was a guest post by HR insider and Career Coaching expert Kara Smith.

Click here to download the full whitepaper IWL Showcase Your Best You – Update Resume”.

Did you know IWL has 9 other steps that can help you launch your job search?  Get Started Today with the Free IWL Job Search Guide: “10 Steps To Make Your Ideal WORK & LIFE Your Reality” – Click here to download the wildly helpful & FREE IWL guide.

Kara is a workforce consultant and teaches classes at:, a learning lab for professionals to get more energized, engaged and empowered in WORK & LIFE.

One Response

  1.' John November 15, 2016

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