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Struggling putting together your cv? Try my 3,4,5 rule and see if it delivers results:

January 31, 2020  /  andy@andrewjamesrecruitment.co.uk
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

It’s that time of year when many of you will be putting together or updating your cv’s.

And it is surprisingly difficult when you come to put pen to paper isn’t it. It’s hard to know how much detail to go into. What information should you provide? How can you possibly get everything that you have done into 2 pages? Does that rule even apply today, or, is it more important to get every detail on to the document?

To compound the questions and the challenge, the cv still remains a very important document. A strong cv (and LinkedIn profile) can open doors, but a poorly constructed cv can act as a serious blocker for talent as they look to move on.

When I help people in this space (both in my day job as a recruiter and in my outside interests as a career coach) I have come to realise that structure is very helpful when working on cv. Over the years I have learnt what employers want to see on cv’s and I have developed a cv structure that really helps people get results.

In today’s blog, I wanted to share one element of that structure and I hope job seekers will find it helpful. It relates to the structure you could use when describing your roles on your cv, and I call it my ‘3,4,5 rule’.

So what is it?

In short summary, it means that for each role on your cv, I have found that 3 sentences of context, 4 sentences/bullet points of achievements and 5 sentences of responsibilities is the perfect amount of information. It’s enough to impress and its concise enough to maintain engagement. It also encourages you to think about your cv in the right way – giving the reader what they need and also demonstrating to them what you have done and can do with commercial outcomes.

What should go in each section?

3 sentences for context:

This section should contain your job title, dates of employment and employer (of course). But it should also offer some other brief contextual details. What does your employer do? How big are they? What makes them different? Do you manage a team? Are you part of a team? Do you look after a client group if you work in HR? If you work in sales, do you look after particular account or a ledger/patch? What vertical do you work within? All of this is context and synergies against briefs that emloyers and recruiters are looking for and typically, it is missing in cv’s.

4 sentences of achievements:

Here you should describe 4 bullet pointed achievements.  Crucially, these should be backed up with a number in it. As some examples, this could be savings made if you work in HR. Projects completed or changes made. It could be teams built, offices opened (or closed) etc. If you work in Sales, this could be revenue generated, biggest deals, achievements against KPI’s, new accounts won, teams built, process innovations etc. But remember the number, it could be a percentage or a figure, but the number backs up the claim and demonstrates commercial acumen.

5 sentences of responsibilities:

Here you should neatly summarise your duties and responsibilities (think the 5 most important lines on your JD). They should be concise and diverse, giving the reader a good overview of your employers expectations of your role day to day as it is on paper.

So there you have it, simple but effective …..give it a try…. both on your cv’s and on your LinkedIn profiles.  I would love to hear if this works for you and comment below if you have other structures that have worked well for you in the past.

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