Insights and news Plain Language Planning Writing tips

Four tips for CV writing that’s Oscar-worthy

We all have memories of a film that left a lasting impact on us. Perhaps a tragedy moved us to tears, or a hero inspired us. These films don’t make such an impression by accident — they follow standards, rules, and conventions in order to rise above the rest and be declared masterpieces. But what does this have to do with CV writing?

As it happens, creating the perfect CV isn’t so different. If you follow the rules and put in the effort, you can create a resumé that catches eyes and makes an impact. By following these four tips and tricks, you can take your CV from discount-bin DVD to centre stage at the Oscars.

An oscar award surrounded by colourful mist.
Image by Engin Akyurt / Pexels licence

1. Keep the cinematography crisp and clean

One of the most important parts of making a fan-favourite film is having excellent cinematography. This is essentially the job of making sure that everything looks good on screen, from the lighting to the framing. If you want to be the Scorsese of CV crafting, you’ll want to think about your own cinematography.

The layout of the page will be the first thing a potential employer notices when they pick up your CV. Just as a cinematographer uses lighting to make everything on the screen clear, you’ll need to use good spacing, alignment, and fonts to ensure your information is clear, accessible, and pleasant to look at. Likewise, CV writing needs to place the important information centre stage. Framing your CV well is a surefire way to highlight your most important assets.

Substance is important, and the words on the page will be vital to your success. But remember that no matter how good the plot, a bad-looking movie won’t win many awards.

A cameraman looking into a screen on his camera as he films a dancer surrounded by LED lights.
Image by Kyle Loftus / Pexels licence

2. Know your genre

Films are always classified under a genre, and sometimes more than one. The obvious example is a romantic comedy — the classic ’romcom’. If you decided to spend the evening watching a romcom and found yourself screaming in terror throughout the whole thing, you’d probably think it was a disappointing movie. Maybe you would even stop watching before it was finished. But if you were expecting to watch a horror film, the fear would only make the experience more enjoyable.

The same film could be considered good or bad depending on the generic expectations you have beforehand. Likewise, your CV-writing skills may be considered good or bad depending on the potential employer’s expectations.

One simple way to meet the generic expectations of employers is to use their language. For example, if the job listing says that they are looking for someone with excellent communication skills, make sure to tell them that you have excellent communication skills. Similarly, make sure you are familiar with what the company is looking for in their new employee and demonstrate why you can bring those qualities to the role.

By making sure you meet the employer’s generic expectations, you can ensure that they read your application through to the end.

3. Pay attention to the credits

Let’s face it, most people don’t stick around for the end credits. That’s understandable — a bunch of unfamiliar names scrolling past is hardly the most entertaining thing. But if you’re someone who gets up as soon as the credits roll, consider sticking around for the names and details on your CV.

Beyond the obvious necessity of making sure your name is spelt correctly, your email also needs to be professional. Just as a filmmaker may have some embarrassing short films from their younger years, many of us have embarrassing email addresses that reflect a youthful sense of humour, not a savvy member of the workforce.

Avoid the jokey email address and go for the simple first and last name combo to show you mean business. And as part of righting the questionable choices of youth, also double-check that your voicemail is clear and concise.

It may seem simple and tedious, but, much like the end credits, these adjustments are vital components of the greater masterpiece.

An large audience sits in a movie theatre looking at the screen.
Image by Krists Luhaers / Pexels licence

4. Don’t forget the importance of the cutting-room floor

Sometimes what makes a movie great is what the editor decides to leave out. During the months of filming, hours of content are recorded. These all need to be sifted through, ultimately being whittled down to a mere couple of hours of film. The editors must figure out not only what is needed to maintain a coherent story, but what to take out to avoid going on too long.

Throughout both your personal and professional lives, you’ll accumulate a wealth of content that you’ll need to manage in your CV writing. It’s up to you to play the role of editor, creating a narrative that demonstrates why you are a great candidate but cutting any unnecessary details. So leave in your most recent jobs, but leave out your after-school paper run from 20 years ago.

Determining what to leave out can be confusing. In your life you’ll have things that you feel are core to your identity but are not relevant to potential employers. While your religion, hobbies, and how you look may be important in your daily life, they don’t belong in the narrative you are trying to convey to potential employers.

The main thing to remember in the editing stage is to only include information that actively shows why you should get the job — nothing more and nothing less.

Make CV writing easy with help from Write Online

If you want to refine your CV and give yourself the best possible chance in a competitive job market, look no further than Write Online. We have a wealth of helpful guidelines to help you create a resumé that stands out from the crowd, earning you the recognition you deserve.

Alongside a host of useful free tools, you can download a detailed CV writing checklist. This covers what we have talked about here, while keeping you accountable for every detail you need to achieve perfection.

Make the most of our free CV writing checklist

We also have a series of videos with advice on how to create a compelling CV. These videos add depth and insight to the tips discussed here, as well as covering some new ideas to push your resumé to the next level.

Download the CV writing checklist (PDF, 215KB)

Check out more CV writing tips on Write Online

With the help of the tools here at Write Online you are a shoo-in as a top candidate, and we wish you well with your job applications.

Try Write Online for free

And with that, our story here is done! Now it’s your turn to say ‘Lights, camera, action’ on your career.

A person holding a clapper board in front of the camera.
Image by Martin Lopez / Pexels licence
To top