Creating a ‘Cut Through’ CV – Stand Out from the Crowd

Your CV or Resume is your key personal marketing document: the written representation of your ‘elevator pitch’ and your personal brand. It represents who you are, how you communicate and is often a first point of introduction for prospective employers. It is important to ensure you make the most of introducing yourself and your capabilities by creating a CV that is compelling and allows you to grab the attention of employers.

To develop a compelling ‘cut through’ CV it should:

  • be customised to the expectations of your audience
  • give a clear message that demonstrates your strengths
  • be set up with a core (but customisable) format
  • have a classic or creative theme to best suit your industry
  • be checked for suitability and professionalism.


Research the role and the company to tailor your CV to any specific requirements (for example, some accept only a 1 page CV). Using the same CV for every role without understanding the requirements could weaken your competitive standing.


Think of your audience. You are hoping to get your message across to someone who may have received hundreds of CVs. To maximise your impact you should clearly demonstrate elements of your strengths, your ‘elevator pitch’ and link it to the skills and qualities which the role identifies as important.

To develop a clear CV you should:

  • use language and keywords from the role description – many individuals and software focus on keywords in their initial scan
  • use an easy to read font such as Arial or Times New Roman – avoid using too many different fonts
  • aim to keep it to 2 pages in length.


You want your CV to flow logically. A common format for a graduate CV is:

  • personal details: name, contact email and phone, Linked In address
  • career statement (optional); summarise why you are seeking this role; what you have to offer in terms of skills and strengths.
  • education: chronologically with most recent first
  • experience: chronologically with most recent first.
    • divide your work experience (relevant and non-relevant) in to sub-categories that look sensible, for example you may group all of your relevant work experience together even though some is professional experience or internships, and some are placements or volunteer.
    • focus on the purpose and impact or achievements of the role. Use descriptive “active” words to describe your actions such as ‘designed’, ‘delivered’, ‘resulting in’, ‘leading to’
  • skills section: you might include language skills or anything else that is relevant
  • interests and extra-curricular: choose a couple of interest or extra-curricular activities and a little bit of detail
  • references: unless otherwise stated, it is usually fine to add “references available on request”. If you do need to submit references, be sure to brief your referee beforehand so they don’t get a surprise phone call.

Classic, Creative or both

Depending on the industry or role you’re applying for, such as marketing or digital communications, it may be important for you to demonstrate your skills through the presentation of your CV. Some people like to add graphics and colour. Whatever you decide whether it be classic or creative, the key is to be consistent and professional in the way you apply it – especially in formatting.


Always proof read your CV and even better, have someone else review it. Errors in formatting, spelling, sentence structure etc. can be very distracting for a reader and detract from your resume. It is a good idea to email someone to check how the formatting appears. After all, attention to detail is often a key selection criteria.

Don’t forget, you can also seek out CV support from Monash Careers Connect staff to gather feedback and refining tips.

When is a CV not a CV?

Some employers require you to complete an application form online instead of submitting a CV. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is not as formal as a CV, it is.
A well prepared CV will give you examples that can be lifted into an application form. Of course, make sure you are not just copying and pasting and apply the principles above of customising and checking for clarity and consistency.

Finally, remember that a CV acts as your brand to prospective employers and successful CVs that stand out lead to increased opportunities.

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