This Is Why Your CV Isn’t Working


With strong competition for jobs, you can’t afford to let yourself down when it comes to your CV. When I worked as a recruiter, I would frequently reject CVs for these two reasons.

1. Your CV doesn’t engage the person reading it

The language you use in your CV will often determine whether an employer or recruiter will read to the end of the last page.  One of the best ways to engage the person reading your CV is to include action words. Action words portray you as a do-er and someone committed to going the extra mile.

Examples of effective action words include:

  • chairing
  • deploying
  • driving
  • formulating
  • generating
  • increasing
  • leading
  • motivating
  • spearheading
  • strategising

However, the fact that including action words is important doesn’t mean that you should stuff your CV with them. You need to be reading each sentence of your CV and thinking carefully about which word to use and ensuring it captures the essence of what you did or do.

2. Your CV doesn’t tell a story

The best CVs tell a story to the person reading them. Storytelling is important because it helps the prospective employer understand who you are and how you’d fit into the organisation.

There are 3 ways you can ensure your CV tells a story:

Describe your achievements – your CV should contain your recent achievements. When mentioning an achievement on a CV, you first mention the achievement (to grab the readers attention) and then explain how you achieved it, ensuring that you use compelling language.

Explain your duties – don’t just state that you did X, explain how you did it. Employers are interested in the approach you take, the skills you use and the challenges you face when undertaking your job duties so explain this to them.

Give examples – throughout your CV you should be giving examples of your experience. In your professional summary instead of saying that you have experience in X, break it down and say that you have experience in X and this involves X, Y and Z. You should do the same for your skills section; give detailed examples of how you have developed or used each skill.

Bringing it all together

These two suggestions should put you in good stead and set your CV apart from the competition. Apply them to your CV and you will increase your chances of being invited to interview.

About the Author

Shilpa is an ex-recruiter turned CV Writer and offers CV Writing, LinkedIn Writing and Cover Letter writing assistance. Shilpa is currently offering free CV reviews where she will personally review your CV and give you clear recommendations to improve your CV. Connect with Shilpa on LinkedIn here or email her at for a free CV review.


1 Comment

  1. 2. Your CV doesn’t tell a story. The good example has a CV with two columns.
    How would this CV pass through an ATS because the whole world seems to be obsessed with that point?

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