Smashing your CV

Your CV is like a trailer for the latest movie: a compilation of the best bits that if done properly, makes people want to see the rest.


We’re going to give you some basic pointers for building a CV that a hiring manager will actually want to read. All they really want to know is that you can do the job and that you are right for their company. Any more is waffle and any less isn’t useful.

  • Power statement (aka a kick-ass personal statement): To grab someone’s attention – to really make them sit up and listen – you’ve got to start with a strong argument for hearing more about you. Something personal and professional – offering snappy details about your best character traits and top achievements (tailored to what the person you are sending it to is looking for). Now’s the time to mention if you’re fluent in any other languages or if you have a particularly sought-after skillset.
  • Evidence of your genius: There’s no point in giving vague statements like “I ran a team of three people” – you have to show how your involvement benefitted the company. So, did your management of that team improve productivity? Did you help to make cost-savings? Did the team get better results because of your leadership? Every statement in your CV should focus on your achievements – giving stats wherever possible (i.e. “reduced downtime by 15%” or “retained 100% of staff).
  • Get to the point: If you start to waffle, the hiring manager reading your CV will switch off. So, keep your copy concise and jargon-free. Use short sentences and bullet points (you can expand on these at interview) and instead of referring to yourself by name, make sentences more direct (“Increased sales by £50k” or “Major achievements include”). Be sure to also mind your tenses, use past tense to describe your career (“Led a team of”) but present tense for transferable skills and competencies (“Offers experience in”).
  • Please, make it legible: Nobody wants to be faced with two pages of A4, crammed to the very edges with the smallest available font. Just be more conservative with the information you’re offering. Less is more. You need an uncluttered layout with plenty of white space and wide margins. And don’t be tempted to go all fancy-pants with the font. Use something standard (Times New Roman, Arial, Palatino, or Courier) and keep it all one size (10-12 point). Giant headings will just waste space. Oh, and NO CAPS LOCK. It looks like shouting (sorry).
  • What the heck do I say? Okay, first things first. You need your personal info, right up there. Name, address, contact details (remember: on every page). After that comes your kick-ass personal statement swiftly followed by your snappy, factual, stat-driven work experience (starting with your most recent job). Include job title, company, industry and employment dates – then list relevant responsibilities and achievements (if you’ve had a lot of jobs or a long career, you might want to summarise under ‘Earlier Career’). You should also explain any gaps in your CV as you may have gained transferable skills from other pursuits, even if you weren’t employed. Then comes qualifications, education and training. However, if particular qualifications are essential for the job you may want to mention them in your personal (power) statement.
  • Future proofing: Creating a CV from scratch can be time consuming. It can also be hard to remember what you’ve done as time goes on. The best approach is to keep your CV bang up to date, even when you’re not looking for a new job. Then when the time does come, it’s all there, ready to go. So keep track of those major successes, important dates, accolades, endorsements and anything else you’d want a future employer to know about you.

It’s a lot to take in, so if you need some one-on-one CV advice you can always send your latest offering to us or give us a call to chat through your job search.

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