HR candidate tips

How to Create a CV That Will Help You Stand Out

As part of our HR candidate tips resources content, we are looking into how a HR candidate should craft a standout CV that captures the attention of recruiters. In just nine speedy seconds the average recruiter will have decided whether you are suitable for a job or not. It is therefore vital to ensure that your CV showcases your experience and relevance in the best possible way.

Too many candidates forget that this simple document is often the first stepping stone to a fantastic opportunity, so it’s essential that it packs the wow-factor. Here’s our top tips on how to create a CV that will help you stand out:

Presentation is key

The cosmetic appearance of your CV completely frames how you are perceived by an employer so it’s crucial to get it right. Given that you’ve got all of nine seconds to make an impression, making your information digestible and accessible is key. Using lists and bullet points is going to make it far easier for a recruiter to pull out the relevant details quickly. What’s more, keeping your style (font, colour etc.) consistent, neat and slick will go a long way to creating the right impression.

Get the basics right

The best way to rile a recruiter is to submit a CV littered with spelling and grammar mistakes – it looks lazy, unprofessional and demonstrates poor attention to detail; three traits you wouldn’t dream of using to publicise yourself during a job hunt. Don’t give someone a reason to discount you for a position before they’ve been fully exposed to your achievements and experience.

Regularly update your CV

This is obviously hugely important if you are actively on the market for a new role. However, if you’re not, it doesn’t hurt to freshen up your CV every few months. It’s so easy to forget key career milestones and then when it comes to dipping your toe into the job market your CV doesn’t accurately reflect all your relevant achievements.

Highlight your personality

The first question a recruiter will ask when reviewing your CV is – are they capable of doing the job? And if the answer’s yes, well you’re one step closer to securing your next role. The second question is – are they right for the business?

This concerns your sector experience, types of previous employers and your team fit. Whilst fit is best assessed in person, including relevant interests and hobbies on your CV can help highlight your personality and further demonstrate your relevance to the employer.

Tailor your CV to the role

Displaying a firm grasp of the role and the business shows you are really serious about the opportunity. Tailoring your CV to the skillset that is required is imperative for getting that initial foot in the door; it shows both initiative and understanding.

Include a relevant cover letter

A cover letter is a great way to support your CV by demonstrating more of your personality, whilst highlighting what you can bring to the role and business. However, the biggest mistake you can make is enclosing a generic cover letter. A recruiter will translate this to ‘you are applying for jobs en masse and are taking a one size fits all approach to your job hunt’.

Strike the right balance between ‘just enough detail’ and ‘too long’

Navigating the fine line between detailing your experience and overwhelming potential employers can be a daunting task. It’s essential to strike a balance, presenting a comprehensive yet concise reflection of your professional journey.

Start by focusing on relevancy; highlight experiences and skills that align closely with the job description, trimming down on unrelated details. Use quantifiable achievements to demonstrate your impact and employ clear, concise language.

Prioritise the depth of information over breadth, providing more details for significant roles and accomplishments. Tailor your CV for each application, ensuring it showcases the most relevant aspects of your career, and remember, a well-structured, focused CV can speak volumes more than a lengthy, cluttered one.


Exaggeration… we’re all guilty of it at some point or another. Why let a few facts get in the way of a good story, right? Wrong. Your CV really isn’t the place for fabrication or exaggeration. Recruiters aren’t stupid and realise if you’ve sprinkled a little pixie dust over your CV to help sell yourself.

We’re interested in the facts; tangible achievements, job tenure, job titles, previous employers, qualifications and where possible, some hard statistics. It will soon become very clear if you can’t evidence your statements during further conversations. Recruiters will also cross reference your CV with your LinkedIn profile, so it’s important that each is aligned.

Explain gaps in your employment

Recruiters are trained to look out for a number of ‘red flags’ when sifting through CVs such as ‘job-hopping’ or long gaps in employment. There are many valid reasons why an individual should need or want to take time out from a career that wouldn’t be classified as a ‘red flag’. So don’t leave us guessing! If you’ve taken time out for studying, to have children, or so on, then tell us.

Concluding thoughts

Crafting a CV is an art form, where presentation, content, and honesty intertwine to portray the best version of your professional self. The nuances of creating a compelling CV can make the difference between landing an interview and getting lost in the shuffle. Remember, it’s about striking the right balance: presenting information that’s digestible yet detailed, showcasing your personality alongside your achievements, and being truthful while putting your best foot forward.

Regularly updating your CV and tailoring it to each role demonstrates initiative and a deep understanding of your prospective employer’s needs. By avoiding a generic approach and paying attention to detail, you show recruiters not only your qualifications but your dedication and respect for the process.

Whether you’re actively seeking or just keeping your options open, ensuring your CV is polished, accurate, and reflective of your true self is the key to unlocking the doors of opportunity.


Creating a CV that grabs a recruiter’s attention within the crucial first nine seconds requires a mix of presentation skills, attention to detail, and personalisation. To stand out, it’s vital to maintain a visually appealing layout, ensure error-free content, update regularly to include all relevant achievements, and tailor the document to the specific role and business.

Highlighting your personality and including a relevant cover letter can further demonstrate your fit for the company. Striking the right balance in detail, avoiding exaggeration, and explaining any employment gaps transparently are also key strategies. These steps, combined with honesty and a clear understanding of the employer’s needs, can significantly increase your chances of moving forward in the job application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top HR candidate tips for creating a standout CV?
  • Presentation Matters: Ensure your CV is visually appealing with a consistent style, using bullet points for easy readability.
  • Error-Free Content: Proofread your CV to eliminate spelling and grammar mistakes, demonstrating professionalism and attention to detail.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your CV current by adding new achievements and roles, ensuring it reflects your most recent professional milestones.
  • Showcase Your Personality: Include interests and hobbies to give a sense of your personality, making you a more relatable candidate.
  • Tailor Your CV: Customise your CV for each application, highlighting the skills and experiences most relevant to the role.
  • Include a Relevant Cover Letter: Support your CV with a cover letter that speaks directly to the role and company, avoiding generic content.
  • Balance Detail and Brevity: Provide enough detail to showcase your achievements without overwhelming the reader. Focus on relevancy and impact.
  • Be Honest: Avoid exaggeration or falsehoods. Be transparent about your experiences and qualifications.
  • Explain Employment Gaps: Offer clear explanations for any gaps in employment, turning potential red flags into positive discussions about your growth or contributions outside the workforce.
How can personalising your CV improve your job application success?

Personalising your CV demonstrates a genuine interest in the specific role and company, showing that you have taken the time to understand what they are looking for and how your skills and experiences make you the ideal candidate. This approach helps you stand out from candidates who use a one-size-fits-all CV, as it highlights your initiative and the relevance of your professional background to the role. Tailoring your CV and cover letter to each application can significantly increase your chances of progressing through the selection process, as it directly addresses the employer’s needs and how you can meet them.

What strategies are recommended for explaining employment gaps in your CV?
  • Be Honest and Positive: Approach any employment gaps with honesty, focusing on what you learned or achieved during these periods.
  • Highlight Productive Use of Time: Whether you were studying, volunteering, travelling, or undertaking personal projects, describe how these experiences contributed to your personal or professional growth.
  • Keep It Relevant: If possible, relate your activities during the gap to skills or experiences that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Brief and to the Point: Provide a concise explanation without going into unnecessary detail. Your aim is to reassure the recruiter or employer, not to dwell on the gap.
  • Prepare to Discuss: Be ready to talk about your employment gap in interviews in a positive and confident manner, reinforcing your readiness and enthusiasm for returning to work.

Benefits of Partnering with an HR Recruitment Specialist: A Candidate’s Perspective

Access to a Vast Network of Opportunities

As a candidate, partnering with a specialist HR recruitment agency opens up a world of opportunities. These agencies have a broad network of connections across various organisations, which means they can offer you access to a wide array of HR roles that might not be publicly advertised. This network can significantly increase your chances of finding a role that matches your expertise and career aspirations.

Industry-Specific Guidance and Support

Specialist HR recruitment agencies possess in-depth knowledge and expertise in the HR sector. This means they can provide invaluable guidance and support tailored to your specific career goals. They understand the nuances of different HR roles and can offer insights into what different organisations are looking for, helping you position yourself as the ideal candidate.

Streamlined Job Search Process

Working with a recruitment specialist streamlines your job search process. They handle the time-consuming aspects such as identifying suitable positions, making initial enquiries, and setting up interviews. This allows you to focus on preparing for interviews and other important aspects of your job search, saving you valuable time and energy.

Personalised Career Advice

Recruitment agencies offer personalised career advice, helping you to craft a compelling CV and cover letter, and prepare effectively for interviews. They can provide feedback and coaching based on their extensive experience with HR hiring processes, increasing your chances of success.

Confidentiality and Professionalism

When exploring new career opportunities, confidentiality is often key. HR recruitment specialists ensure that your job search remains confidential, protecting your current employment status while you explore new prospects. They maintain high standards of professionalism, which is particularly important for senior-level roles.

Faster Job Placement

Agencies often expedite the job placement process. Their goal is to match you with the right role swiftly and efficiently, which means you could secure a new position faster than if you were searching on your own. Their proactive approach can open doors more quickly, giving you an edge in the competitive job market.

Access to High-Quality Roles

Specialist recruiters focus on the quality of job matches. They aim to place candidates in roles that not only fit their skills and experience but also align with their career growth and personal values. This approach leads to more satisfying and fulfilling career moves.

Ongoing Career Support

Many agencies offer ongoing support even after you’ve secured a new role. This can include career advice, market insights, and networking opportunities, helping you continue your professional development and stay ahead in your HR career.

Partnering with PEEQ: A Unique Advantage

PEEQ offers distinct benefits with a high fill rate, exclusive partnerships, and access to experienced freelance HR recruiters. Our approach ensures a focused and committed job search process, increasing your chances of securing a desirable HR role. Additionally, own unique services like psychometric insight reports and post-hire executive coaching set you up for long-term success in your new role. With PEEQ, you gain the advantage of an informed, strategic approach to your HR career advancement.

Benefits of Partnering with an HR Recruitment Specialist: An Employers Perspective

Access to a Vast Network of Professionals

A specialist HR recruitment agency has an extensive network of professionals in the human resources field. This network allows them to identify top talent with the right expertise, qualifications, and experience for high-level positions within your organisation.

Industry-Specific Knowledge and Expertise

HR recruitment agencies specialising in your industry have a deep understanding of the specific requirements and challenges of top-level HR roles. This expertise enables them to identify candidates with the ideal skill set and experience to excel in these positions.

Streamlined Recruitment Process

Working with a specialist HR recruitment agency can save your organisation time and resources by streamlining the entire recruitment process. The agency takes care of tasks such as job posting, candidate sourcing, screening, and initial interviews, allowing your HR team to focus on other essential duties.

Tailored Recruitment Strategies

A specialist HR recruitment agency develops customised recruitment strategies that align with your organisation’s needs and goals. They take into account factors such as your company culture, values, and objectives to ensure that the candidates they present are an ideal fit for your organisation.

Confidentiality and Discretion

Top-level HR roles often require a high degree of confidentiality and discretion during the recruitment process. A specialist HR recruitment agency is experienced in handling such sensitive information and can ensure that the process is conducted with the utmost professionalism and confidentiality.

Reduced Time-to-Hire

Partnering with a specialist HR recruitment consultant or agency can significantly reduce the time it takes to fill top-level HR positions. By leveraging their network, industry expertise, and recruitment strategies, they can quickly identify, screen, and present the best candidates for your organisation.

Enhanced Quality of Hire

A specialist HR recruiter’s primary goal is to identify the highest quality candidates for your organisation. Their expertise and tailored approach ensure that the candidates they present meet the specific requirements of top-level HR roles, leading to a better overall quality of hire.

Long-Term Partnership and Support

Establishing a long-term partnership with a specialist HR recruitment agency can be beneficial for your organisation’s ongoing talent acquisition needs. The agency can provide valuable insights, support, and assistance for future recruitment efforts, ensuring a consistent and effective approach to attracting and retaining top HR talent.

Why Choose PEEQ?

The average fill rate amongst HR Recruitment Agencies is 46%, but at PEEQ our average fill rate sits above 90%, So you are twice as likely to make a hire if you choose PEEQ.

This is due to two reasons:

Firstly, we only partner with our clients on an exclusive basis, so we ‘own the responsibility’

Secondly, we don’t employ recruiters. Instead, we work with trusted and proven freelance HR recruiters, to hire for our clients.

We give them the tools and infrastructure to be successful, and the rest is down to their magic and experience. Our Associates are not employed by us and only get paid for making a successful hire.

This makes them incredibly tenacious and committed to finding the best talent, which is why our fill rate sits above 90%, compared to the industry average of 46%.

More reasons to work with PEEQ

Psychometric insight reports

Obtain a unique insight into your candidates’ Cultural Fit, Strengths, Decision Making and Resilience through our accredited assessments.

Post-hire executive coaching

Set your hire up for success with a tailored coaching programme that helps them achieve their full potential personally and professionally.

Up to 6 Month Placement Guarantees

Confidently make your hire under our 2, 3 or 6 Month Placement Guarantee; safe in the knowledge that we’ll offer you a free replacement if they leave within our pre-agreed time period.

BeTalent Accredited Approach

We are proud to offer the BeTalent Accredited approach that enables us to deliver scientific candidate assessment, in accordance with the British Psychological Society standards.

This solution is for you if you want:

  • An objective way to determine who is the best fit for your role
  • A comprehensive understanding into your new hire before they start
  • Peace of mind that you’ve made the right hiring decision.

Get in Touch with PEEQ HR Recruitment Agency

We are here to help you. If you have any questions, queries or would like to discuss a potential hire, a job application, or require clarification on anything detailed on our website, then we would love to hear from you.

Please feel free to call, email or complete the form provided and we will assist you.

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