How to create a CV that gets read

by | CV tips | 0 comments

Having recently completed an international training event on Formatting Resumes: Strategy and Distinctive Design to Win Interviews, I thought I’d share some of what I learn with you.



The thing is, when you Google CVs, you will find a huge range of examples. Some which, on first glance, appear very boring while others seem to really catch your eye because they are full of colour and graphics.

But what really works?


In order to answer this question I both attended the training on formatting resumes and carried out my own research to get an accurate understanding of what recruiting managers are looking for when they are faced with a pile of CVs.

I have contacted a number of directors and recruiting managers from large and small companies from a diverse range of industries as well as international schools and universities (including student admissions) along with recruitment agencies, head-hunters and several of my colleagues from various forums I am in.



I finally completed analyzing the results (the majority of which came as no surprise and confirmed the way I work with clients and what was covered at the international training event) and now I have an even clearer idea of what hiring managers are looking for and what they don’t like.

I would like to share the key points from the results with you so that you can incorporate them into your own CV.

  • A traditional reverse chronological list of roles and responsibilities type CV no longer works; recruiting managers want to see evidence of skills and achievements.
  • Unless applying for a creative role, a CV should have no more than 2 fonts, no more than 2 colours and no more than 2 – 3 pages, and it should have enough white space to make it clear and easy to read.
  • Creativity i.e. graphics, colours and diagrams should be used purely for creative roles.
  • For teaching positions in international schools in particular, your CV needs to be crisp and professional in order to present an appearance of respectability and a strong emphasis on teaching philosophy (with evidence of delivering it not just saying it) in order to show fee-paying parents from various cultures that you are very respectable and well-qualified which is why a very conventional and sober CV is usually called for.
  • It needs to be keyword rich to show that you have read and understood the job description as a lot of hiring staff these days are recruiters not working in the areas they are hiring for so a CV needs to contain the words and phrases they are looking for.

Of course for creative jobs the rules are very different.

When applying for a creative role (web designer, graphic designer, fashion designer, artist for example) in addition to the above you need to find away to express your creative talents and this was also confirmed by my research. I have been lucky enough to work with several creative people recently where we have had to work very closely together to ensure that their creativity comes across as well providing the right information. I m happy to say that this has produced some very intersting and successful results with one particular client getting his application to the top of a pile of over 2100 applicants – just waiting to hear the results of his interview!!

The key point from this is that, unless you are applying for a creative role where your creativity really has to stand out, you need to create a professional looking CV, one that gets through the ATS and makes you stand out above the other candidates while demonstratonstrating how your unique combination of skills and experience make you the right person for the job.

It is clear that gimmicks that were used for a few years no longer work with the competition as great as it is.


© Anne Galloway

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Anne Galloway is the Careers Consultant for those who want to put the fun and passion back into their working week. Find out how Anne can help you along your path to career success at




I am a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, Employment Interview Consultant, and Career Coach and it is my aim to help ambitious and motivated people like you become fully empowered to get the job you want.