The Art of CV Writing

Thu 20 Nov 2014

Angela Tracey-Brown

Product Manager - CMI

A well written CV will showcase your talents, allow the reader an insight into who you are, and differentiate you from others competing for similar jobs.

There is no mystery to compiling a good CV. As with any skill, there are rules and techniques which will ensure your CV makes the grade.

Understanding what an employer wants will give you a great starting point from where you can begin to compile your CV.

The layout of your CV should be clear and relevant depending on your career path and what type of organisation you are applying to, such as education, corporate or creative. The structure needs to be consistent, easy on the eye and highlights your key points, which should allow potential employers to gain a clear understanding of where you are in your career path.

Start with your name, email address and telephone number as a header, and make it a bigger text size and centre it, so it is the first thing the recruiters sees and remembers. Your CV acts as a personal sales guide, demonstrating to potential employers the value you can add to their organisation and the potential you have to grow in the marketplace.

It is important that your CV attracts the widest possible audience, so try to avoid specific terminology that recruiters and employers outside of your current marketplace will not understand.  

Don’t include a standalone key skills section as these skills can look purely theoretical. Recruiters would much rather see how you utilise these skills in a working environment with quantifiable examples of success, for example key targets you achieved, or how much profit you made for your organisation in a certain timeframe.

The question of how long your CV should be depends on the types of roles you are applying for, but ideally it should not be longer than two pages as most recruiters/employers will not have the time to read through it all.

Don’t include borders on the page, diagrams, date of birth or status as this is irrelevant. Also, don’t use pictures or photographs.

In the main body of your CV you must include all qualifications, and your work experience, starting with your current role and containing your key responsibilities. You should tailor each role to what a potential employer is looking for and what they need to know. Studying the job description and the organisation’s website will help you to understand their culture and personality. All dates need to be clearly laid out, including when the role started and ended.

Keep it brief. Your CV needs to sell your key highlights and achievements and what you have done in each of your previous roles that matches the job you are applying for.

Mistakes can be costly. A lack of clarity, employment dates that are missing or do not match, and not including grades on the qualifications you have achieved are just some of the blunders that may cost you an interview.

Be truthful. Employers will always find out if you have provided misinformation when they request a reference and complete a background check. If an employer finds out you have lied or not disclosed relevant information after you have started in employment you may find yourself facing a disciplinary hearing or, in extreme cases, termination of your contract.

Beware of spelling mistakes. This is very common and need not be. Use your computer’s spellcheck function. Once your CV is finished, read it and then read it again. Get a friend or a family member to read it as they will look at it with fresh eyes, and may see something you have missed.

Finally, submit your CV and make a note of when and who you sent it to. This will allow you keep track of your employment applications.

This article was provided by Daniela Donatantonio. Daniela has been actively involved with the People Management side of HR Management with a specific interest in training and development, skills development and design. She holds associate membership to the British Institute of Learning and Development and CIPD.

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