How to Write a Great CV

We’re delighted to share a guest blog post with you. A good contact here at Vanilla is Adrian Berwick. Adrian is a freelance commercial HR consultant who runs AB Commercial HR Solutions. He has written this fabulous post for us to share with you detailing his experiences of what makes a great CV:

People are always seeking new career challenges. The sheer numbers of people looking for a fresh challenge mean that competition is higher than ever and it is necessary to create a CV that sets you apart and differentiates you from other candidates.

CVs must be professional, present the information clearly and be easy to read – ideally, they should tell your “story”. The development of a good CV is about structure, language, length, personalisation and attention to detail.

Structural success

Employers are conservative in their outlook and prefer CVs to be easy to navigate with key information to the fore. The most common structure would follow a sequence based on

  • Profile – an introductory paragraph
  • Core professional/technical – bullet-pointed overview of your main offerings
  • Education/qualifications – presented chronologically
  • Career history – detailed list of your roles – base career history on achievements rather than a list of duties that have come straight off a job description

The structure is also about format and layout with the use of professional fonts, use of bolding, bullet points and space between sections.

Look at the language

Even in 2018, poor use of the English language and grammar or syntax as it is sometimes called remains a turn-off. Employers don’t like typos/grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, casual tone and language and use of jargon/clichés.

Know the difference between your and you’retheir and there and they’re… Over familiarity is unacceptable and avoid expressions like ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘challenge the status quo’ …….these expressions don’t lend themselves to the written word.

This may seem a bit basic but employers will spot simple errors on a CV, this causes a real issue when a candidate claims to have “excellent written communication skills”.

It seems bizarre to keep reminding people about spelling errors when spell check is available.

Use positive action words as verbs – controlling, directing, coordinating, leading, project managing; these words tell the employer what you do and suggest responsibility and authority.

Also, put some context around your role. Job titles say what you are called not what you do; if you’re called an Operations Manager, the employer will want to know the scope of your role – have you got profit and loss accountability, or what is the value of the budget you manage? Numbers give context whilst also suggesting the level at which you are capable of operating and the culture or business environment you may be suited to.

Too much or not enough?

Most CVs are about 3 – 4 pages maximum but the length of the CV should not be your focus – instead, you must be concise, clear and relevant. The CV must grab attention quickly through a personal profile that gives your ‘elevator pitch’ and sets out your suitability. Having grabbed the attention, it must flow and tell a story to the point where the employer is keen to meet you and find out more.

Take time to tailor

At middle and senior level, CVs tend to be tailored to a role, an industry or a sector but it is important that you focus on transferable skills.

Every role for which you apply will have specific requirements – skills that are favoured over others, vital qualifications for the role, experience in a certain environment. Highlighting the specifics of the role for which you are applying in your personal profile allows the employer to see your suitability at a glance – this proves you have read the job profile and thought about how you meet the specification.

The CV is still the most important document in securing a role and therefore, it is worth the investment in time.

To register your finished CV with us, click here. We’d be delighted to hear from you. ​

AB Commercial HR Solutions offers HR support to business and can offer either advice or an informal “sounding board” – [email protected]

We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Corby and Kettering. We help people find their perfect job and match suitable jobseekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – SalesMarketingAccountancy & FinanceHR and Office