Nobody likes writing their CV. Well not many people do anyway. It’s difficult, time consuming and requires some serious thought. You have to recall your old work experiences, some of which are good memories, some of which are bad. Perhaps there’s the odd work night out you would rather forget?!
As a result, we think everyone could do with some help, but not everyone has access to an expert. You can use this section as your sounding board. We hope it will help you think about how best to represent yourself on paper and ease the pain of actually writing it.
Have you been to our motivations section? If you haven’t yet, we recommend you do and come back here after! This section will try to keep away from the usual boring advice you have probably heard time and again.
We are often better at representing our employers than we are at representing ourselves. We find that to get yourself in the right frame of mind whilst you are writing your CV, it can help to think of yourself as a company!
If your name is Max Jones, think of yourself as Max Jones Ltd. There are many different departments of Max Jones Ltd, but for now you are the sales director for Max Jones Ltd and you are going to write a sales document, like an advert or a proposal to a new customer. Any successful sales director of a company knows what they are good at, what their target market is and understands their target audience.
As many as 10 people may read your CV before it gets to the person authorised to offer you a job. Although your CV must have details that the hiring manager will want to see and understand, it also needs to be easily understood by others.
Your CV may be found online or initially reviewed by someone who is nowhere near an expert on your industry or function. They might be comparing your CV to a list of keywords that they want to see in order to put you on the “YES” pile. Here are some tips to ensure you get past this point:
Before starting to write your CV, think about each point of your career and make some notes on examples of the following:
Work you are proud of because:
Things you had to do as part of the job:
Note that above we have given you seven ideas around achievements and one line about your responsibilities. Most people approach writing their CV with their focus firmly weighted the other way…
Everyone has an opinion on this! You ask for help from one person and change your CV based on their advice. Then you ask someone else and they suggest changing it to exactly how you had it in the first place… The truth is that there is not really a right answer and you should go with what feels right for you, as long as you are remembering your audience whilst writing it. That said, we naturally think our suggestion below is actually the ‘right’ answer so feel free to use it.
Download the sample CV. We have included comments explaining why certain aspects are there. You can remove the comments via the “tracked changes” options in Word. If you aren't sure how to do this, give us a call and we can explain (and it would give use great pleasure to hear from someone actually using it!
Once you have built ideas for the content from the last section, we recommend the following:Personal information
This does not replace the content in the rest of the CV, rather provides a summary for the reader as guidance. Provide about 5 or 6 bullet points that give the reader information on the following:
NOTE: By now, you should be no further than half way down the first page. The first page of your CV is the most important and most read, so there should be space to summarise at least your most recent position on it.
To help with this section, you can also download a sample CV that we have created to see our advice in action. We have included comments explaining why certain aspects are there. If you want to use this CV as the basis for your own, you can remove these comments via the “tracked changes” options in Word. If you aren’t sure how to do this, give us a call and we can explain (and it would give us great pleasure to hear from someone actually using it!)Work Experience
The structure used for every role you have had should follow a similar format. The only difference between each section of experience should be how much information you choose to include about each role. This can be nothing more than a job title and dates if the experience has no relevance to you today. Here is our recommended structure:Job Title, Company and start/end dates as a heading:
Having a selection of the above will help to show your all round ability as opposed to just one area of your work.
We’ve seen some funny things in our time. Here are a few to avoid; we’ve omitted the obvious bits of advice like checking your spelling and grammar.
As well as helping you to secure an interview, the content of your CV will actually drive the discussion that you have during the interview.