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Get your CV Noticed in 10 seconds

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Resume Writers & Resume Writing Services

Author: Roland Coombes

Roland Coombes is a veteran recruitment consultant, highly accomplished careers expert, and master resume writer with over 25 years of industry experience.

In a nutshell, you can quickly get your resume noticed in under 10 seconds by following a few simple rules, such as tailoring your CV/resume to the job description, using a professional photo, improving the layout of your CV or resume, incorporating keywords, implementing ATS strategies, and, most importantly, adjusting your job title to better align with the roles you are targeting.


As both a recruiter and resume writer with over 25 years of experience in the business, I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of job applications (all formats, all types, all strategies!). This knowledge and experience have been used to help build my own business to write resumes that stand out. But I also enjoy sharing my knowledge to help others build their own understanding of how to curate the perfect CV or Resume that gets interviews.

So here I will be putting my recruitment hat on, and share with you my top 10 tips on how to get your resume noticed in 10 seconds or Less.

1) Know your audience and speak their language

Let’s kick things off by emphasising the critical importance of knowing your audience. 

One of the most common misconceptions about CVs is that they should resemble a comprehensive autobiography, detailing every job you’ve ever had. In reality, employers don’t have the time or patience for such an exhaustive read. What we (recruiters) want is relevance. We want to quickly see how your skills and experience align with the job that is being advertised.

For example, imagine a job seeker is targeting a marketing position, but they also have a background in customer service, project management, operations, office management, etc. Can you already see how quickly the other position titles will dilute the application? The hiring manager will want to see your marketing prowess right away, so if you really want to grab their attention, the applicant will need to focus 90% of their content on marketing and associated skill sets, i.e., cut out the noise.

Therefore, my number one recommendation in crafting a CV that will grab the attention of a reader is to focus the content on the target audience.

2) Snap, smile, and click: The great photo debate

Ah, the age-old debate about including a photograph on your CV. Some say it adds a personal touch, while others argue it opens the door to unconscious bias. 

The verdict?  I find that it’s largely a matter of personal preference, but there’s an undeniable trend I have noticed towards including a professional photo, especially in the era of LinkedIn.

Why? Because a picture can instantly humanise your application. It’s a chance for the recruiter to put a face to the name, but I also find that when there’s a batch of 150 CVs for one job, a picture can sometimes say 1,000 words. And in a world where personal connections matter, a friendly, professional photo can set you apart.

If you are considering using a photo, there’s a whole plethora of tools online to help improve the image quality as well as remove unwanted backgrounds.

I would guess that approximately 20 to 30% of my clients use photos on their resumes. Therefore, if you have any reservations about including a photo, it’s perfectly fine to omit it. Your skills and qualifications will ultimately speak for themselves.

The use of a photo and a carefully crafted introduction can make a world of difference.

3) The layout of your CV/Resume needs to be clean

A confusing layout is like a messy shop window—it won’t entice anyone to step inside.

So, what does an impactful CV layout look like? First, let’s keep it clean and organised. Vital information, such as qualifications, job titles, achievements, employer names, and contact details, should be easily accessible. You’ll be surprised at just how many CVs I come across where I can’t even find a phone number!

Avoid templates that, at first glance, look good but can be extremely difficult to manipulate. I often find jobseekers who use these templates spend more time trying to insert content into the boxes provided and forego the essentials. This is a bad mistake.

Finally, when building content, make use of bullet points. Using bullet points allows room for the reader to breed, makes your CV easier on the eyes, and also gives the impression of professionalism and clarity. Stick to no more than 5-8 bullet points per job.

4) Crafting an irresistible introduction “Hook ’em from the get-go”

In a few seconds, I will know if I want to read more. The CV’s introduction is a first impression, a virtual handshake, and a chance to captivate the reader’s attention. This is the section that will determine whether your CV gets a second look or ends up in the dreaded “no” pile.

So, what makes a compelling introduction? I believe an introduction should be succinct yet impactful. Your goal is to provide a snapshot of your professional identity in a few lines. You can use strategies such as key target words, company titles, specific industry software, etc.

Here’s an example of an introduction by a Head of Digital Marketing:

“I am a digitally savvy marketer with 14 years of experience within SAP, Telstra, and IBM Australia. Over the years, I have successfully launched new products into highly competitive consumer channels across Australia, China, and the wider Asia-Pacific (with budgets of $1 million+). My technical skills include Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, SEMrush, HubSpot, Salesforce CRM, and A/B testing.”

Notice how the above introduction immediately drops company names, talks about specific marketing channels, and uses less technical software.

5) Use a keyword section

In the realm of modern recruiting, keywords are the secret sauce that can make or break your CV. They’re the words and phrases that recruiters use to search for candidates in their applicant tracking systems (ATS). If your CV lacks these critical keywords, it may never even reach a human reader.

Think of keywords as the breadcrumbs that lead recruiters to your CV. These words and phrases should be directly related to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re seeking a role as a data analyst, relevant keywords might include “data analysis,” “SQL,” “Python,” “data visualisation,” and “machine learning.”

But don’t just stuff your CV with keywords for the sake of it. ATS systems are sophisticated enough to detect keyword stuffing, and it’s a big turnoff for recruiters. Instead, focus on naturally incorporating keywords into your content.

Here’s a two-step approach to mastering the keyword game: Start by carefully reading the job description. Highlight the key skills, qualifications, and responsibilities mentioned. These are your target keywords.

Integrate these keywords into your CV in a way that makes sense. Use them in your job descriptions, skills section, and even your introduction, if applicable. The goal is to show alignment between your qualifications and what the employer is seeking.

6) Change your job title

Too many people miss out on selection because their job title doesn’t match the job they are applying for (even though their skill set does). It’s very frustrating for the individual.

For example, if the job title on a CV is “Associate VP,” but the role being targeted is “Service Delivery Manager,” the CV (despite the relevance of the content) can be easily overlooked. This happens way too often, especially when recruiters spend very little time going through hundreds of CVs daily. Furthermore, it is likely ATS software will completely miss the keyword match string.

So what should you do if your job title doesn’t quite align with the industry’s standard nomenclature?

Fear not; there are strategies you can employ to bridge this gap. If you have an unusual job title, you can consider making the change directly on your CV or resume to a more market-friendly parallel title. Using the above example, the Associate VP can quickly change their position title to “Associate VP—Service Delivery Manager,” and hey presto, they instantly become a match.

Fear not; there are strategies you can employ to bridge this gap. If you have an unusual job title, you can consider making the change directly on your CV or resume to a more market-friendly parallel title. Using the above example, the Associate VP can quickly change their position title to “Associate VP—Service Delivery Manager,” and hey presto, they instantly become a match.

7) Add a separate achievements section

While it’s essential to list your job responsibilities, it’s your achievements that will truly set you apart from the competition. Achievements demonstrate the tangible value you’ve brought to your previous employers. They show that you’re not just another cog in the machine but someone who delivers results.

As with the content on your CV, it is important that you keep achievements relevant to your target audience. Spruce achievements up by adding statistics, numbers, and percentages (wherever possible) and quantifying the achievement. Numbers have a unique ability to grab the reader’s attention and make your achievements more concrete.

Consider the following examples:

Instead of saying, “Improved customer satisfaction.”
Say, “Increased customer satisfaction scores by 15% within six months.”

Rather than stating, “Managed a team.”
Say, “Led a cross-functional team of 10 members, resulting in a 20% boost in project efficiency.”

Instead of mentioning, “Contributed to cost savings”
Say, “Identified cost-saving opportunities that reduced annual expenses by $50,000.”

Quantifying your achievements not only makes them more impactful but also demonstrates your ability to deliver measurable results—a trait that’s highly valued by employers.

Capture the readers attention by using a dedicated section for selected highlights.

8)  Tailor your accomplishments to you audience

Not all accomplishments are created equal, and not all are relevant to every job application.

Tailor your achievements to align with the job you’re applying for. This shows that you’ve taken the time to understand the employer’s needs and have the skills and experience to meet them.

For example, if you’re applying for a project management role, emphasise your successful project deliveries, your ability to stay on budget, and your knack for leading cross-functional teams. If you’re seeking a sales position, highlight your sales achievements, such as exceeding targets, acquiring new clients, or growing revenue.

9) PDF: The preferred distribution format

Now that you’ve put so much effort into perfecting your CV’s layout and content, you want to ensure that it looks pristine and professional when viewed by potential employers. 

This is where the choice of file format becomes crucial.

With so many different platforms on the market, it is easy for a CV to quickly change format and become skewed. Applications such as Google, Open Office, Outlook (Protected View), and Apple can create a less than pleasant experience, which can sometimes result in the CV instantly being knocked back.

My recommendation is to distribute your CV using a PDF. This is an industry standard and is renowned for maintaining the formatting and layout of documents regardless of the device or software used to open them.

Finally, avoid using Google Drive to share a link. It’s extremely frustrating for the recruiter to have to ask for permission to access a link.

10) Refine your CV by seeking feedback

Feedback is the secret sauce that can transform a good CV into a great one. While input from friends and family is certainly valuable, I would consider taking it a step further by soliciting feedback from professionals in your industry or, even better, from recruiters and hiring managers.

Recruiters and hiring managers are intimately familiar with what works in the job market. They’ve seen countless CVs and know what stands out. Their feedback will help you align your CV with industry expectations. If you’re connected with recruiters or industry professionals on LinkedIn, consider reaching out with a polite message explaining your request for feedback on your CV.

Professionals in your field (like me!) can provide tailored feedback based on the specific job you’re applying for. They can spot areas where your CV could be better aligned with the role and suggest improvements.

When seeking feedback, be open to constructive criticism and be prepared to make changes to your CV based on the input you receive.

Keep in mind that different professionals may have varying opinions, so consider the feedback in aggregate and make decisions that align with your career goals.


Crafting a CV that captivates a recruiter’s attention in just 10 seconds is an art form that can significantly boost your job search success.

By aligning your CV with your target audience, perfecting its layout, and presenting your qualifications effectively, you’re on the path to making a memorable impression. Remember, your CV is the gateway to your dream job, so invest the time and effort to make it shine brightly.

I hope that with my ten tips in your toolkit, you will be well-equipped to navigate the competitive job market with confidence and poise.

However, if you feel that you want that extra push in the market, drop me a line.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)

A: Keywords, tailored content, scannable formatting, and relevant skills and experience.

Not tailoring your resume to the job, using a cluttered font, including too much text, making typos, not using keywords.

Tailor your resume to the job, use keywords throughout, save your resume as a PDF, proofread carefully, network with people in your field, use professional job search websites.

A: Highlight your transferable skills, list any relevant volunteer experience, coursework, or extracurricular activities, include a skills section.

A: Highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position, emphasize your transferable skill

A: Tailor your resume to the job, use keywords throughout, quantify your accomplishments, use strong action verbs, highlight your unique selling points.