How to make your CV stand out during COVID-19

Looking for work may seem like a daunting task right now…

It’s no secret that the job market has become increasingly competitive over the past six months. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average number of applicants per role on has risen slowly – with around 19 applications being received per vacancy in October. 

However, it may surprise you to know that opportunities are also on the rise, with the number of vacancies on growing every month since May. 

So how can you stand out against the competition, and ensure recruiters remember your application? Here are our top tips:


Step one: Try and stick to the most relevant roles

It may be tempting to apply for as many roles as possible right now. Especially if you’re currently out of work, or are facing an uncertain future due to the pandemic.

However, this strategy might actually be doing more harm than good. Particularly when it comes to your mental health. if you aren’t really reading the job description properly, to see if you’d be a good fit, then it may be even harder to stand out against the competition. 

Instead, it’s as much about making a shift in your mindset. Rather than applying for a hundred roles you probably won’t hear back from, take your time to search for something that will actually match your skills and experience. 

That way, you won’t waste any more time and energy on the wrong roles, and can ensure your CV is much more likely to get noticed by a recruiter. 

Remember: jobseeking should never be a numbers game. 

COVID-19 and work

Six ways to make your CV stand out from the crowd


Step two: Tailor your application to the job description

OK, so you’ve found a role that really matches your skills and experience level. The next step is to make the connection completely clear to the hiring manager.

In other words, it’s time to tailor your CV to the job description. (Don’t already have a CV? Luckily, we know where there are some free templates you can use…)

Think of it this way: a job is a problem to be solved. You need to present yourself as that solution. The company has set out everything they need from their perfect candidate already, so it doesn’t even need to take much work to make sure your CV matches up. It may only take a matter of minutes. 

However, as not that many applicants actually do this, you’ll instantly be able to stand out. Not to mention demonstrate that you’re willing to put the additional effort in to make reading your CV worthwhile.   

Start with this simple exercise: take each of the requirements from the job description, then write down how you fit the bill. Try backing them up with real, quantifiable examples – and work on incorporating them into your application. 

And don’t be afraid of ATS’ (Applicant Tracking Systems). It’s a common CV myth that humans never read your application. Even if they are using an ATS to pre-screen CVs, it’ll only help to filter out those who aren’t relevant.  

As long as you’re using all the right words, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. 

Tailoring your CV: What you need to know

How to: Use job descriptions to land your dream role


Step three: Sort out your structure 

Another sure-fire tip to make sure recruiters remember your CV? Make it interesting for them to read.

With more applications to go through, the hiring manager may not have time to take in every single word. So make sure you start by highlighting your most relevant achievements – and structure everything else around it. 

Are they asking for a certain level of experience? Include this in your personal statement. Does the job description call out a certain certification as a prerequisite? Put your education history higher up on the page.

Put everything relevant you can think of down on paper, then try and condense it all to two pages (as this is the CV length most recruiters agree on). 

And don’t forget formatting. Choose a layout that will look the part, and keep your reader interested as they scan through your information.

Your CV is your chance to sell yourself. If it isn’t clear, concise and easy-to-read (and, ultimately, interesting to read), you’re unlikely to make yourself memorable.

Free CV template

CV layout examples


Step four: Upskilling and reskilling*

Our final recommendation to set yourself apart is to show a proactive approach to personal development. 

Since the start of the pandemic, 74% of those we surveyed admitted that they’ve worked on their own development in some way. And the good news is that it doesn’t even have to come at a significant cost.

There are lots of free and discounted courses out there to help you build up your knowledge in a particular subject. Whether it’s getting qualified for a new role or sector, working on your transferable skills, or simply sharpening your skills in your current role. 

Most are available to take online, and allow you to enrol right away. Once completed, you’ll be able to add your new certification straight to your CV. 

Aside from making yourself eligible for a wider variety of jobs, you’ll also demonstrate that you’re committed to progressing in your career. Even during Coronavirus. 

View all courses



We’re proud to support the #KeepBritainWorking campaign – which aims to redeploy workers from struggling sectors into in-demand ones.

To find out how you can get involved, visit now.

Together we can help preserve jobs and protect livelihoods. Together, we can Keep Britain Working.



*Upskilling/Reskilling could also be step one, if you’re starting from scratch. 



Need a new start? View all available immediate start jobs now.


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