Returning to the workforce? Here are 5 tips to make your CV stand out in the Covid-19 era

  • by IMAGE

Whether you've taken time out to raise a family, or are recovering from burnout, reentering the workforce can be a daunting experience. Throw in a global pandemic and well, we're all probably experiencing a bit of career uncertainty. Joan O'Reilly, guidance counsellor for Springboard+, the upskilling initiative in higher education that offers free and subsidised courses, has some top tips to make sure your CV stands out in a pile of applications. 


1. Use a clear font

Remember in your school days when the teacher declared you can write your homework in any colour and you badgered your mum into buying you a set of gel pens? Yeah, don't take this approach when it comes to CV writing. You want to look professional and want the recruiter to be able to read your information in a clear and concise manner. Joan recommends using a classic font such as Arial, Calibri or Helvetica. She also says you should clearly mark out your competencies – know them and how to apply them. Using the same font in bold could help here.

2. Your name across the top

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This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people forget to include their name on their CV. A name, email address and phone number are a good place to start.


Returning to work? Get expert advice for free in the IMAGE x Springboard+ online event Make it Happen

Register here


3. Reverse chronological order

Joan recommends placing your most recent work experience and skills at the top of your CV, and follow with the last experience you had and so on.

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The CV should follow this format, according to Joan.

  • Highlight your skills
  • Personal profile
  • Statement of key achievements – evidence of relevant skills for the job, for example business awareness, team working and leadership, effective communication
  • IT skills and languages
  • Relevant voluntary work  or activities
  • Education and professional qualifications
  • Hobbies and achievements (optional)
  • References available on request

Returning to work? Get expert advice for free in the IMAGE x Springboard+ online event Make it Happen

Register here


4. Keep it punchy

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Joan recommends your CV is snappy, accurate and achievement-oriented. She says it's important to highlight your achievements, make it clear how you apply them. Using action verbs will make your CV pop.

5. Brevity counts

Joan says your CV should only be 1 to 2 pages on an A4 page. This makes sense as most applications also require a cover letter of 1 A4 page. If a recruiter has 50 applications on their desk, and everyone sends in 3 pages of an application, that's 150 pages they have to read!


For more CV tips, interview tips or career advice, tune into the IMAGE x Springboard+ virtual event taking place on Thursday, August 13 at 7pm. Register here for free and tune in from the comfort of your own home, where Melanie Morris will host a discussion with change and transformation specialist Niamh Ennis, head of skills and engagement at the HEA Dr Vivienne Patterson and head of education and innovation policy at IBEC Claire McGee. 

Main photo: Corinne Kutz, Unsplash

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