Recruitment specialist in HR, Sales and Operations

5 tips when putting together your cv

February 7, 2021  /

In a competitive marketplace, it is more important than ever to put together a good CV. A well-constructed CV opens doors. A poorly constructed cv can lead to rejection, frustration and missed opportunity.

I have seen thousands of CV’s in my career, but perhaps more importantly, for over 20 years, I have witnessed hundreds of leaders, recruiters, and line managers short list CV’s, and there are patterns. There are themes that people like (and do not like). This has given me invaluable insight on what works well, and what people want to see.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting your CV right:

  • Chronological order on CV’s works best. There is regular debate about skills and achievements-based CV’s being the way to go but, in my experience, hiring managers do not like them. Skills based CV’s are more cumbersome for the hiring manage to navigate, they find themselves frustrated by jumping around to work out what skill or achievement related to what individual role or environment. They feel it tends to lead to more questions than answers. Simple layouts with roles, listed in a chronological order, is what employers want to see. If you have been working as an interim for a while, no problem. Group together your time as an interim into one role and adopt the 3,4,5 rule that I mention below to highlight key roles, achievements, and context.
  • Do not underestimate your personal statement. It is the first thing someone reads, and you can win or lose further attention here very quickly. Work on the basis that each sentence needs to motivate the reader to read on to the next. Demonstrate your relevance. Keep it succinct but punchy, aim for 4 to 5 sentences. Do not fall into the trap of having one generic profile that you use every time. Adapt it for every application (and spend time making sure that you optimise your search by applying only to the right roles). This is your elevator pitch. It is why you are right for the role you have applied to.
  • Getting the level of detail right in roles in is also crucial. Not enough and it looks lazy. Too much and people lose interest and wonder about your ability to be precise and efficient. People want context about your employer and your role (nature of business, size, did you have a team etc). They also want to know your key achievements in each role. And they want a succinct duties summary of your day-to-day responsibilities. Construct your role descriptions in that way. Read my 3,4,5 rule about a process that works well – it gets the level of detail in each role just right, put this link into your browser:
  • Give numbers and tangibles and avoid jargon. Can you back up your achievements and bring them to life with a number? What numbers, percentages etc, can you add to really bring context to your achievements and demonstrate your value. This could be savings made, growth achieved, % difference to measuring scores. Whatever they are – give a number. Also, do not use jargon terms and phrases that creep into most people’s CV’s. Only use terms and phrases that are factual and are not down to subjective interpretation or views. Be objective.
  • Keep the design simple. Using MS Word is best. Do not overcomplicate and try and impress with hard to follow boxes and templates. Being creative with some visual images can work well, particularly if they are in line with your personal brand but generally, it is best to keep things simple and orderly – that is what people want.

If you have specific questions or need further help, feel free to reach out.

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