You’ll get lots of different advice about how to write a good C.V. This is an example of the way we present our candidate’s C.V. s which has proved successful with our clients.
As a general rule, employers initially spend about 15 seconds scanning a C.V. sifting out the candidates they want to see from those they don’t. Most candidates will have similar experience and skills at this stage so what is it that makes some C.V. s more successful than others?
Essential attributes of a successful C.V. are that it should be:
- Clear – in presentation as well as in writing style. Use bold to highlight headings (avoid underlining). Choose a font and size that is easy to read e.g. Times New Roman 12, or Verdana or Arial, 10. Break text up with bullets.
- Concise – remember the short time your C.V. is given by the employer and that you have the opportunity to expand in a covering letter. Try to stick to 2 sides of A4. Bullet points are useful – a CV which is laid out like an essay can be difficult and time-consuming to read.
- Accurate – mistakes and typos are not acceptable in a C.V. and you will probably not be successful if there are any included in yours. Don’t just rely on spell check you need to check this on a hard copy and get others to check over it too.
- Relevant – when detailing responsibilities, experiences and skills try to remember to make these as relevant as possible to the job you’re applying to.
- Full name and contact details (you do not need to include all five of your unusual middle names as first and last names will suffice!). Include your home and mobile phone numbers and email address if you know that you check messages on these regularly. This is just for our reference at Ashbury Associates – we remove these before sending your C.V. to the client
- Profile/Personal statement – we find these very helpful. It gives the employer a flavour of your enthusiasm and personality as well as summarising your relevant experience and career aims so that they are immediately made aware of your suitability for the job
The profile should be a mixture of facts – your qualifications/your work experience; and of skills – e.g. you are efficient and organised.
Keep this short (3-4 lines maximum) as you can cover all this in more detail in a covering letter.
- In reverse chronological order beginning with your most recent qualification.
- Start with the years you attended the institution, followed by the name of the institution
- Then give the qualification attained and what result you achieved.
- Include any degree, technical qualification and “A” level details but also include GCSE s briefly (you don’t need to list these). As here you can just say the number attained and the range of grades achieved.
- If you have done an industry related qualification and some of the modules within this are relevant to the job you’re applying for, then you could list those relevant modules underneath.
- Key Skills/Qualifications
- This often goes after work experience however; we tend to put it after Education as this follows on logically from the qualifications you have attained during your education.
- Things to include here are:
- Additional courses you may have taken
- Industry related/manufacturer’s courses
- Languages (give an indication of your level)
- Computer packages
You don’t need to go in to any detail with these – just bullet point them
- Work Experience/Employment
Everything you have done needs to go down here and you should try to think of the various responsibilities within each role and what skills you’ve acquired.
- Start with your most recent employment.
- Include months and years and if it’s less than a month say how long you did work there and whether it was part time/ permanent/ temporary/ contract/ work experience.
- Give the name of the company and its location (you don’t need the full address) and if it’s not immediately obvious state what type of business the company is involved in – e.g. contractor, distributor etc.
- Under the name of the company write the name of your role (e.g. Service Supervisor)
- Using bullet points, list your responsibilities. Keep this concise and try to use action words, for example, ‘assisted’, ‘liaised’ and ‘evaluated’. Even if your work was at a very junior level you will have learnt relevant and important skills and you need to give it the value it deserves.
- It’s important to include these as it gives the employer a sense of your personality and makes you appear less one dimensional! Often hobbies can give an extra example of a skill you’ve acquired – for example, if you play in a sports team this will provide examples of team work in an interview.
- Don’t make this too personal and don’t include too many details though – they won’t want to read a huge paragraph about what you like doing – just brief references to your main areas of interest, adding specifics if it seems relevant to the role you are applying for.
You don’t need to include these at this stage – simply write ‘Available on request’ under the heading.
Finally, do a spelling and grammar check with the Word spell check facility but also print out a hard copy and check through carefully yourself. Watch for spelling, grammar, punctuation and repeated words as well as typos. Once you’ve checked through and made amendments, give it to a friend to check as well. This is vital as errors are just unacceptable.
THE 20 MINUTES CV MAKEOVER
Did you know that on average, your CV will have less than 15 seconds to make an impact!
Often you will be pitching your application in competition with many other job seekers and it is common for most positions to attract multiple candidates.
Before you even think of uploading your CV on to any job site for the world to see, you need to make sure that it provides you with a strong professional image. Your CV is your biggest sales tool and possibly the only opportunity you have to sell yourself to an employer.
Sit down and take 20 minutes to make over your CV with these easy steps;
Strip it down
Remove any photographs, graphics and tables, flashing lights or other obscure colour or imagery that might be lurking within your CV. Unless you are applying for a modeling or acting job then a photo is just not necessary. Adding colour or other graphics just makes it look like you have something to hide. If you have the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ anywhere then remove that too, it’s a self-explanatory document.
What’s your name again? Make sure that employers know who you are. Your name is your identification so make sure that it is large and bold. Your name should be the first thing that an employer sees as it immediately gives your CV a personality. Do you have a degree or professional qualification that allows you to use letters after your name? Use them! They immediately let an employer know that you are an educated, intelligent individual.
Be professionally contactable
Make sure that an employer knows where and how to contact you. Include your full address (where you actually live, not the address of a parent or friend), a landline number, mobile number and your email address. Make sure that your email address doesn’t give the wrong impression of you, firstname.lastname@example.org is really not appropriate for the purposes of job hunting.
Add a Profile
A concise and powerful profile should tell the employer exactly who you are and what you can do for them. Avoid generic statements at all costs! ‘A self-motivated team player who thrives under pressure’ has been seen a million times and has no value. Think about who you are, your core strengths and what you want an employer to know about you. Show the employer what you can do for them. Your CV is as much about your future as it is your past.
Remember, this is your sales tool and an employer has not met you yet so there is no room for modesty.
A skilled and highly experienced Key Account Manager with an unrivalled ability to manage an extensive client portfolio within extremely demanding environments. A strong communicator and firm negotiator with a talent for building solid relationships at senior level with many blue chip organisations.
Demonstrate your achievements
Back up your profile with evidence and demonstrate your intelligence. An employer wants to know what you have achieved and by providing substantiated evidence in the form of a ‘key achievements’ section you can exhibit your career highlights. Be careful not to waffle and don’t overkill this section. About 4 to 6 strong bulleted achievements should get your message across. Much like your profile, concentrate only on what you know you can offer.
- Negotiated and implemented preferred supplier agreements with key UK clients resulting in additional revenue of £250k per annum.
- Initiated cost saving of £100k through the delivery of improved wastage control methods
- Project managed the implementation of advanced technology to track sales and marketing information, dramatically improving key data analysis
Inject Power Words
Each new bullet point in your key achievement or career section should start with a ‘power word’. A power word is used to make a statement stronger and to sell ideas or beliefs; it is a ‘doing’ word and deepens the emphasis on your achievements.
Negotiated, Implemented, Devised, Developed, Initiated, Led, Managed, Trained, Sourced, Advised, Established, Influenced, Enforced, Encouraged, Transformed, Restructured, Focused, Promoted, Spearheaded, Performed, Persuaded
Keep it relevant, concentrate on the recent
An employer will not be interested in what you achieved at school in 1989 or your position as the office junior in 1991. They want to know what are doing now and what you have achieved recently. When writing your career or education section, always start with the most recent first and work backwards. Be tough with yourself and remove any information that is just not relevant.
Leave something for the interview
Don’t forget that your CV should only be designed to get your foot in the door of the interview room. An employer doesn’t want your life history, just a synopsis of you as an individual and what you can bring to their table. Your CV should be the basis for further conversation. Give enough compelling and powerful information for an employer to want to call you in for the interview but always leave them wanting more….
Check, double check and then check again
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to proof read your CV! If possible, get a friend or colleague to have a look over it as even the most obvious mistake can be missed. Set your spell check to English UK and not English US and be aware of words such as ‘there’ and ‘their’, ‘weather and whether’. There is truly nothing worse than receiving a CV that is full of spelling or grammatical errors.