CV hacks to get your application noticed
Charlie Johnson
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
5 min read

CV hacks to get your graduate job application noticed

When you’re applying for graduate jobs - or any jobs for that matter - your CV will always play a big role in determining whether you reach interview stage or not.

Yet the vast majority of people continue to send boring as hell word documents in Times New Roman font that are more likely to send the reader to sleep than catch their eye. So Brighterbox has whipped up five CV hacks to make sure your application is never just another anonymous rejection.


A common misconception is that, when applying for a graduate job, you need a two page CV to cover all the brilliant things you have done. Wrong. You don’t. A professional with ten years’ experience probably doesn’t, so why should you?

Keep it to one page. It's punchy, clear, highlights key skills and experience straightaway (the hiring manager will thank you for not making them sift through twice as much information), and demonstrates a confidence in your own ability alongside an understanding of what the role entails and how your background matches this. If you’re straying onto two pages, you are not being targeted enough with the information you are providing.



Word is for writing stuff down. It’s not designed for presenting information. People use a huge range of different Word editions (or alternatives like Apple’s Pages or the excellent free equivalent OpenOffice), which means a perfectly laid-out CV on your computer is no guarantee of a perfectly laid-out CV by the time it arrives at your potential employer.

So when you save your final version, hit ‘Save As’ and instead of saving it as a .doc, save it as a pdf (you may need to download a Word plugin to do this if you’re using Word 2007 or earlier). Full instructions on this can be found here. A pdf is static, thus your perfect formatting will remain, regardless of where it ends up.


Word templates are all well and good, but when the world and his wife use them they can be a touch samey. Fortunately, you can add some colour and professional design to your CV for little or no cost and really stand out from the crowd. Websites such as Graphic River offer free or low-cost templates created by design professionals which will give your CV some real sparkle and are easily edited (often you can just import them into Word and edit from there).

Boom! In one fell click you have a unique, eye-catching document, not yet another black and white, instantly-forgettable Word doc. Remember, save as a pdf to make sure your brilliant design doesn’t go squiffy on other people’s computers.


The vast majority of CVs are viewed on a screen now (anything from a desktop to a mobile), not on paper. This gives you an excellent excuse to offer an employer a load more information on you without taking up any more precious space on your curriculum vitae: a link to your own website.

Popping a link in the contact section of your CV alongside your email address and phone number is a brilliant way of offering a lot more information to an employer AND demonstrating a level of digital prowess that businesses are coming to expect from all their employees (especially graduates).

Set up a free website with information on your professional experience, a bit more background into you as a person, and anything else you think is relevant (Wordpress and Wix are good options for creating sites even for people without a technical bone in their body).


Too many people fall into the trap of using plain, generic language (“excellent”, “brilliant”, “motivated”, “team player”) in CVs. They won’t necessarily do you any damage, but they won’t help you stand out, either. If we had a pound for every time we read that a graduate was a team player who also works well individually...we’d have a lot of pounds.

Tell your potential future employer something about YOU. What makes you special? What makes you tick? Employers take it as given that people can work by themselves and with others - you don’t have to explicitly tell them you can. Save the space for something far more interesting. Sports achievements, random hobbies, the number of marshmallows you can fit in your mouth at once - anything that will make you seem more like an actual person not just another faceless application.



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