7 Pro CV Tips to Make Sure Your Application Stands Out

Recruiters and hiring managers review A LOT of CVs on a daily basis. This means that they often only have about 30 seconds to give your CV a first glance and decide whether to spend more time reading or not. This may not sound like enough time to show off your skills and talents, but we have some pro tips to help you make the most of those 30 seconds and ensure that your first impression leaves recruiters wanting more. So, what can you do to improve your CV and make sure that your application catches a hiring manager's eye? Check out our 7 tips below! 

1. Keep it short and sweet

Like we already mentioned, recruiters are checking out loads of CVs per day so they don’t have time to read a mini novel of your life in order to determine if you would be a good match for the position. You will make their day much easier (and your chances of success much higher) by delivering a clear and concise CV for review. It should be no longer than 2 pages, although 1 page is even better if it can clearly and accurately show your experience.

Make sure that the different sections of your resume are also short and to the point. Don’t use long and wordy paragraphs. You can even consider using bullet points, lists, or icons to get the information across clearly without the need of too many words. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you cover the important points and key words and then leave them wanting more. That way they will hopefully invite you for an interview so that you can answer their questions and discuss your experience in more detail.

2. Think about the order

In the Netherlands the most frequently preferred order of a CV is to start with your most recent work experience. This is followed by your school experience and diplomas, and any additional volunteer experiences or other information you would like to include. This format for listing your experiences in your CV is called reverse chronological order. It shows the recruiter what you have been up to right before applying for the position in question, which allows them to review the most relevant information first.

There is one exception to the rule of listing your most recent work experience first. If you have just earned an important diploma you can choose to list your school experience before your work experience as this may be more relevant to the position you are applying for. However, in the case that you also have work experience that is relevant to the sector you are applying for, we would recommend using the original option and listing this first to show your practical experience in addition to your diplomas.

We understand that sometimes people take a break from their career for awhile. This can be for any number of reasons, and it does not have to get in the way of you taking on a new challenge. The important thing is to include the gaps in the chronological listing of your experience and provide an explanation. We would suggest listing the time period when the break occurred with a short explanation of the reason for the break such as, “traveling to gain experience”, “performing various odd jobs while caring for family”, “personal development”, etc. It can be especially helpful if the explanation includes information about skills you gained during the time away from active work experience.

3. Keywords and tailoring your CV

Using keywords on your CV to bring out the most interesting and relevant parts of your experience can be helpful. Not only are recruiters usually on the lookout for these words in their search for and review of your resume, but keywords can be beneficial even before the recruiter lays eyes on your application. Due to the large amount of applications coming in, many companies choose to make use of AI or ATS technologies to check your CV for relevance before sending it on to the recruiter. Highlighting important keywords can help you get through this screening process and also stand out to the recruiter. A pro tip is to include relevant keywords in your CV that are also included in the job description.

You can also tailor your resume per position that you apply for. For example you may have experience in both customer service and marketing. When applying for a customer service position you could highlight your experiences working with people and solving problems, as well as use keywords like “SAP,” “order management,” and “customer service;” while for the marketing application you may prefer to focus more on your design skills and experience with SEO.

Keep in mind that while a perfect keyword match is great for a recruiter to find, it is not at all helpful if it isn’t true. You should never lie, use keywords that do not apply, or make adjustments that do not accurately portray your skills and experience on your CV. But, feel free to help your application stand out by accurately tailoring your CV to highlight your relevant skills when you apply for positions that match with your experience.

4. Consider the curb appeal

While the most important part of your resume is making sure it is clear and accurate, it certainly doesn’t hurt if it looks nice and is easy to review. Here are a few tips to up the curb appeal of your CV:

  1. Use clear categories, headings, and bullet points to make sure that your format is easy on the eyes and recruiters can easily find important information.
  2. You can consider adding graphs, logos of your previous employers, or other graphics to make it quicker and easier to read through as well. Make sure that what you include adds to your message and doesn’t distract from your skills and experience.
  3. Add links to your LinkedIn profile and your video CV (if you have one). Most recruiters and potential employers will check out your LinkedIn as part of the review process, so including a clickable link in your CV can be very helpful. If you have created a video introduction of yourself then you can also link to that on your CV if you would like.

5. Personal information - To include or not to include

You can include any information that you want to on your CV, but keep in mind that some information is not necessary and may be too personal. This includes things such as your relationship status, BSN, or bank account number. If you are hired you will need to provide this information, but you will be informed when this is necessary.

You can also consider excluding information that could potentially be used discriminatively, such as nationality, date of birth, etc. Many agencies will remove these things from your reume before sending it to a hiring manager anyway in order to diminish the potential for discrimination. It is important to note that laws against discrimination are very strict in the Netherlands, and recruitment agencies such as Undutchables have strict anti-discrimination policies and processes to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to find their next challenge.

Something that is very important to include on your CV is your contact information. Make sure that this is up to date so that recruiters will be able to reach out to you using the information on your resume. Make sure to include the following:

  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Name
  • LinkedIn profile, and possible other social media if desired
  • Optional:
    1. Eligibility to work in NL/visa
    2. Driver’s license

6. Language skills

In an international market like the Netherlands you should also include information about the languages you speak and your level of fluency on your CV. This can be shown visually with stars, a chart, or a graph or it can be written out. Using a recognized level (i.e. B2 or C1) will also give recruiters a clear idea of your skillset. Make sure to include both your written and spoken fluency level, and include all languages that you are capable of using in a work setting.

7. And the final step – edit and proofread

ensure that you come across professionally and that your CV doesn’t get thrown out on a technicality, take some time to proofread your document before sending it in. Check for typos or grammatical or spelling errors. You can run the document through spell check, Grammarly, or other programs to get rid of obvious issues. After that have a friend or colleague take a look at it as well. A second pair of eyes can help ensure that you haven’t missed anything (after staring at it for hours) and another person’s opinion can let you know if what you have written comes across the way you intended.


We know that getting your CV ready takes time and effort, and that you want it to be the perfect calling card for your work experience. Sometimes just knowing a few tricks of the trade can help you make that happen. Remember, keep your CV simple, clear, and accurate. Give it a personal flair to show off your personality, but keep the focus on the most important skills and experience you have gained. Don’t forget that companies in the Netherlands want to get to know you, so provide the tantalizing basics on your resume document and then impress them with the details in person. Happy CV writing!


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