Secrets to a Winning CV Design (Cold Calling Companies)


Your CV design – and the content of your CV – is your golden ticket to the interview. If it doesn’t catch the interviewer’s attention within the first five seconds, your chances of being considered for the job are pretty slim.

It sounds harsh, I know, but believe me that’s the reality of the job market at the moment. It’s extremely competitive. Unless you have connections, your chances of scoring an interview boil down to your CV.

Recently, I decided to put myself out there to try and get a job that I really wanted. This meant cold calling companies where I could see myself working, and applying for a position that hadn’t been advertised.

Out of the five companies I contacted, I received three responses, scored two interviews, and had one job offer! I was told by one interviewer that my CV was one of the best he had ever seen. (What a compliment!) It was also the reason why I was invited for an interview.

I’m going to share a few CV design tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years of applying for jobs, and working in recruitment and as a human resources assistant.

Easy CV design and content tips to make your CV ‘pop’!


This is the CV template I used. See how clean and simple it is? You can find templates like this on MS Word 10, or you can even create your own borders. Let’s break it down…

  1. Make sure your name is clear and at the top. Immediately underneath, add in the job that you are qualified for or applying for. For me, I was a freelance writer and hoping for a copywriter position.
  2. Add a photo of yourself. People want to see who they are dealing with. It’s not about looks, it just adds more viability to who you are and to your CV. Use to crop your photo (make sure it’s not part of an obvious group photo or anything that’s too casual or risky) and change it to black and white to give it a more professional look.
  3. List your full physical address here. (So employers can see if you live close to work, etc.)
  4. Add your cellphone number and email address here.
  5. Like it or not, employers and interviewers WILL take a look at your social media profiles. So why not make it easier for them? Clean them up and then hyperlink them and add them to the side.
  6. Because you’re cold calling a company, your objective  needs to be crystal clear. Keep it short and catchy, and most of all – make sure that it’s honest. You’re looking for your dream job. Your objective needs to incorporate this as well as what you can offer a company.
  7. Highlight your most relevant and recent experience to the job that you’re trying to get.
  8. List your previous positions and the dates that you worked there. Don’t include a long list of duties here, if the interviewer wants more information, you can send it through or tell them during the interview. Rather focus on what is most relevant to the job. In my case, it wasn’t all the admin jobs I’d had before. It was my writing experience.
  9. List your qualifications here.
  10. Here’s your chance to show off what you can do. Again, keep it relevant to the job that you’re trying to get an interview for. List the skills you envision would be important to the job.
  11. Finally, add a sentence where you state that you can provide references or samples from your portfolio (if you’re looking for a creative position), should the interviewer require it.

I think the most important thing that I tried to keep in mind when doing my CV design and layout, was reminding myself that people are busy. Especially when you’re sending them an uninvited CV for a position that isn’t advertised.

You need to give them a reason to want to MAKE the time to see you.

So, keep it short and simple and highlight what you can offer them. Why you would make a good asset to their team and why you want to do that specific job.

Next week, we’ll take a look at how to put together a winning cover letter / introductory email. This is just as important as your CV. If your cover letter isn’t up to scratch, it’s doubtful that your CV will even be opened. It’s another opportunity to grab the person reading your email.