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How to write a standout CV

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How to write a standout CV
January 14
23:28 2019

Writing a successful CV can seem like a daunting task, but there are some simple tips to follow which can make it much easier. Throughout this blog, we’ve covered everything from what recruiters are secretly looking for to how you should present your CV. Ultimately, your goal is to tailor your CV to each job and company you apply for, showcasing all your relevant skills and experience. When you’ve created your standout CV, you’re then ready to apply for your dream job!

The two main aims of any recruitment process is to:

  • Establish that you understand what the job is and
  • That you have the ability to do it well

Creating a standout CV is the first step of that journey.

First things first, what are recruiters looking for?

Many recruitment decisions are based on cold hard facts so a recruiter will be going through your CV looking for evidence that you can perform. These facts may include:

Your position in the hierarchy – It’s important for recruiters to understand where you would best fit in their team. Include information such as who you report in to, if you work independently or if you manage anyone.

Numbers – Recruiters will look for ways of quantifying your value to your previous company in numbers. This could include revenue generated, percentage of targets hit, flight time clocked, or time taken to achieve a project. Providing strong evidence in figures gives a prospective employer an idea of what return on investment they will receive by employing you.

What your current employer does – If you’re currently working for a lesser known company, make sure you add an explanation of what the company does so they can put your role into context. If you’re company is more well known, ensure that you describe how your department and role contributes to the wider business.

Technology expertise – Most jobs bring you into contact with some form of technology so recruiters will be keen to learn your level of ability.

The objective of your previous role – The most important thing to include is ‘what were you hired to do?’ A recruiter can then put your hard work and results into context.

Examples of past work – Whatever tangible work you have produced, ensure you state it clearly on your CV, indicating the volume and quality of work produced, and how this benefited the business.

How you interact with other people – The aviation industry will bring you into direct contact with many people, including international citizens where English may not be their first language. Recruiters will be looking for evidence that you are able to communicate clearly and effectively with them.

Employers receive an average of 24 applications for higher skilled jobs.


Where do I start?

Now you know what employers are looking for, there’s just one final thing you need to do before starting to write your CV – research.  If you spend some time doing research into the company you’re applying to, you may gain some insights that will help you write your standout CV. You should be able to find out online what sort of company culture they have and what kind of people they employ.

You need to demonstrate that you understand what the company does, what their position within the industry is and how you can align your experience, interests and values with the goals of the company. Having a basic understanding of the company and their aspirations will also help you when you get to the interview stage.

Remember to pay close attention to the job description. This will be full of clues about what the recruiters are looking for, especially in terms of skills and experience.

Things to look out for

  • What does their website tell you about the future of their business?
  • What does their careers page tell you about the company culture and the type of people that work there?
  • Do they have any advertising campaigns which can give you an idea of what the company does?
  • Do they post regularly on social media? If yes, what are they telling you about the company?
  • Is the tone of the company formal or informal?
  • What type of products and services do the company offer?

Start with the basics

Your CV should include some basic but vital information about you so that recruiters know who you are and how they can get in touch with you. Make sure you include:

  • Your full name
  • Your address
  • Nationality
  • A professional email address that you check regularly
  • A phone number
  • A link to any relevant blog or social presence
  • Due to discrimination rules you no longer need to provide your date of birth, marital status or a photo, unless it is specifically requested.
  • Never write CV as it wastes space. Use your name as the title instead.


Personal statement

If you choose to include a personal statement, this should sit under your basic information. It should be a short paragraph that describes who you are and what you’re about, including your career goals and what you could bring to their company. They are similar in nature to a cover letter, just shorter – usually one paragraph.

It’s not mandatory to include this section but with average recruiters spending an average of just 8.8 seconds looking at your CV, this is your chance to give them a reason to read on. They are particularly useful in a competitive industry as they are the perfect way to grab the recruiters attention.

Avoid being vague or broad as employers might think that you’ve sent this CV to everyone and that you’re just applying for anything – really tailor your personal statement to the company you’re applying for. Aim for something similar to this.

“After graduating, I spent one year travelling the world which has given me a great understanding and passion for different cultures, languages and practices. As a result, I am able to communicate clearly and effectively with many international citizens, which I believe would be extremely important in this positions as a [insert job title].

Aim for between 50 and 200 words in your personal statement.

Flight hours

It’s really important to include hours relevant for the position and split by type. For example:

X hours as Pilot in Command

X hours as Second in Command

X hours on a Boeing 777


Qualifications and education

In this section, list all your certificates and ratings starting with your highest held or most recent certificate. You need to indicate that you meet the requirements of the job vacancy so include the licence types, any medical certificates and the country the licences were issued in.

When listing your education, only list the most recent college or university that you attended. Include the title of the qualification, the grade awarded and the date achieved. If you are still in education, you are entitled to list it but ensure that you make it clear that it hasn’t been completed yet.

Try and stick to bullet points in this section. If you do have months where you were out of work or education, keep your explanation brief. If an employer requires more information, they will ask you to elaborate during an interview.



This is usually the most prominent section on a CV and it’s worth spending some time making sure you have identified the most relevant experience for the job. This section is normally laid out in reverse chronological order with most recent experience at the top.

Keep your experience short and accurate, listing the company name, duration of employment in years, your title and the type of aircraft that you flew on.

You may have one particular job or work experience that you really want to highlight. You could create a new section titled ‘Engineering Experience’, or ‘Flight Experience’ and put this first. Your remaining experiences can then be put under ‘Further Experience’.

If this is your first job in aviation, lead with your qualifications and then add detail on the transferable skills you have gained from your experience. If you have been in the game a while, start with your experience as it is more recent and relevant to the job.

“Past work experience that migh not appear to be directly relevant to the job at hand might show another dimension, depth, ability, or skill that actually is relevant or applicable.” Alyssa Gelbard, Career Expert.


Amongst others, employers will be looking out for skills such as positivity, loyalty, creativity, adaptability, tenacity and being a team player. These are highly desirable for employers and should be mentioned in your CV personal statement or cover letter.

Avoid using buzzwords or including skills for the sake of it. If you make a statement, back it up with an example of how you demonstrated that trait.

If you are new to the aviation industry, demonstrate how you have transferable skills from other industries you have worked in.

For example, you have only ever worked in a restaurant and you are applying for a cabin crew position. Demonstrate how your time at the restaurant taught you:

  • Valuable insights into the hospitality industry.
  • Excellent customer service skills, including being patient and resilient.
  • How to deal with handling money.
  • How to communicate with customers effectively.
  • How to pay attention to detail in a fast paced environment.
  • How to multitask.


Interests & Hobbies

A section on your CV which includes a diverse range of interests can help you seem interesting and personable. Highlight interests that have helped you develop the skills that the employer is looking for. Don’t mention ‘passive interests’ such as watching TV or playing games, especially if the job requires you working alongside other people.

Interests and hobbies are subjective. Some employers believe that they are an integral part of the application, whereas some will only find them beneficial if they are looking for a particular fit in their company culture.

Benefits of including interests on your CV

  • Helps make your CV stand out from the crowd
  • Another chance to demonstrate your relevant skills for the role
  • Allows you to highlight voluntary or community based projects
  • Gives you something to talk about during the interview



References act as a third party endorsement and are used by hiring managers to reassure them that they are about to offer a position to the right candidate.

Only include references on your CV if you’ve been asked to in the job description. Avoid the classic line ‘References available on request’. This is unnecessary and takes up valuable room on your CV. An employer will contact you for details of references if they are considering offering you a position.


When contacting your reference, they could ask for:

  • A character reference
  • Details about responsibility
  • Length of employment
  • Punctuality and attendance
  • Overall performance
  • Reason for leaving

Most employers will request 2 references. 85% of employers will check at least one of your references. 60% of employers have withdrawn an offer after receiving poor references.

Who should I choose?

Choose your referees carefully, usually it would be your most recent employer. If you don’t have a recent employer, teachers, business acquaintances, customers and organisational leaders can all verify that you are who you say you are.

Avoid choosing family or friends where possible. It’s also considered good etiquette to ask for people’s permission to act as your referee. By notifying them beforehand, it also gives them chance to prepare for any questions, should they be contacted.


What are they saying about you?

Under the Data Protection Act, you have the right to view any references given by your previous employers. If you disagree with any comments, you may wish to address the matter with you previous employer or remove them as your reference in future applications.

Contrary to popular belief, previous employers can give a bad reference, providing that it is accurate and fair – and that they have evidence to back up any bold statements, for example, that you were sacked.



How to format your CV

Making your CV look professional and easy to read is essential. Recruiters are ‘time poor’ so you should aim for one or two pages of A4, but no more. The upper-middle area of the first page is known as the ‘CV hotspot’. This is where the eye naturally falls so think about including your most important experience or ‘key attributes’ here.

Top tips

  • Avoid huge chunks of text – bullet points will make the information easier to read and digest
  • Sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica or Arial make for an easy read
  • Make headings bold and clear, but not oversized
  • Avoid using confusing subheadings
  • Stick to conventional colours – printing your CV in neon will make you stand out but for all the wrong reasons!

If you are sending your CV via email, send it as a PDF unless otherwise specified. If you’re sending it via post, you could look at getting your CV professionally printed – or printing it yourself on good quality paper.

Want a professional look to your CV?

Download our template at


Some last things to remember

  • Always get someone else to proofread your CV and cover letter. Nine out of ten CVs have an error on them and can be rejected on this basis alone.
  • Always tailor a new CV and cover letter to every position you apply for.
  • Always be honest – lying on a CV is serious and in some cases, punishable by imprisonment for false misrepresentation.
  • Re-read the job description and ensure that you have provided all the relevant information.
  • Make sure that you back up any claims you have made – if you say you have great communication skills, provide evidence of where you have demonstrated this.
  • Always send an up to date CV. Sending an old CV will make you look unprofessional and may be missing recent information that is relevant to your application.
  • Never criticize a previous employer if you list your reason for leaving them.
  • Make sure you avoid using clumsy expressions. If English is not your first language, ask a friend or colleague to take a look at it before you send it.
  • Do not use a fancy font or unusual layout. Keep it clear and concise.
  • Do not include your social security number.
  • Do not list every airplane you have ever flown or worked on – stick to the most relevant.
  • Do not send the wrong application to the right company. Ensure you address it to the right contact – and that you have spelt their name correctly.
  • Avoid using buzzwords

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