How to avoid underselling your CV to an employer

Lydia Smith
·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
Business, career and placement concept - young woman smiling and holding resume while sitting in front of mentor or managers during job interview. Smiling female client talking to male manager
A great CV is the first step in your job search, but getting it just right can be difficult. Photo: Getty

A great CV is the first step in your job search, but getting it just right is difficult. Not only do you have to sell yourself, your skills and experience in a page or two, you need to strike the right balance between showcasing your attributes without being too showy.

This simple one-page personal advertisement is so crucial, it’s easy to make mistakes that will have potential employers bin yours at first glance. An easy error is to play down your abilities, particularly if you’re worried about coming across as boastful.

But with the job market a hostile place at the moment, it’s important not to undersell yourself. Recruiters are receiving huge numbers of applications and unemployment has hit its highest level for three years, with redundancies at 227,000 between June and August. So how can you make your CV stand out?

Learn to humble brag

It’s not always easy to talk about your achievements, but the whole point of a CV is to sell yourself. The aim is to be professional without bragging — which is where the humble brag can help.

READ MORE: Why we need to take holidays and time off when working from home

Don’t just list your duties in previous roles, but your accomplishments too. Think about what you contributed to your previous roles and the positive impact you had on the company, which will put your CV in a good position.

It may be tempting to fib on your resume, but it’s not a good idea. If you don’t have the right skills for the job, your employer finds out you lied or starts to question your abilities, your career at the company will be short.

WATCH: How to create the perfect CV

Make sure you have a solid skills section

An employer will want to know what relevant experience you have, but having a clear and concise skills section will tell them you can actually do the job.

This is the easiest way to insert keywords into your CV and highlight to the recruiter that you have the necessary skills for the role on offer. If you don’t have a skills section on your CV, or if you are listing irrelevant skills, then you may well be underselling yourself.

Keep it simple

“Think about your resume as an elevator pitch: quick, simple and to the point,” says Will Capper, HR expert and founder of job search engine DirectlyApply. “The average employer or recruiter will have to dig through many more CV’s than just yours, so making sure you stand out and they’re able to notice your potential at first glance is how you land that interview.”

READ MORE: Why self-awareness is key to getting hired

And remember, buzzwords take up valuable space without adding much value. “Do you think outside the box? Or are you a go-getter? That’s great, but don’t phrase it as such,” Capper adds. “Sentences like these send shivers down the spine of your potential employer, and not in a good way.”

It can be tempting to liven up your CV with eye-catching job titles, but this can be off putting for a recruiter. “It might be fun to call yourself a ‘Happiness Manager’ on your CV even though you’re actually just an HR-manager, it’s better to stick to official job titles as anything else might cause confusion and isn’t the most professional,” Capper says.

Stick to the facts

To keep your CV short and simple, it’s important to only focus on the facts. “Your academic achievements, important skills you have gathered and previous job experiences, rather than your own opinions,” Capper explains. “You might be an ‘amazing’ writer or a ‘fabulous’ designer, but in the end it will be up to your potential employer to decide that.”

“Why you want to land a position and why you’re the best candidate for the job are obviously important things to tell a recruiter, yet your CV is not the place to do so,” he adds. “Elaborate on this in your cover letter to go with it with elements referring back to your resume.”