5 Steps to Writing the Perfect CV


Chloe Burchell


May 29, 2022

Is your CV strong enough to impress in 6 seconds? If not, it’s headed for the bin rather than the ‘maybe’ pile.

According to recent research, recruiters spend an average of 6.25 seconds skimming through a CV before making their decision. You’ve got a brief window to win your way to an interview, and only a carefully crafted CV will do the trick.

With that in mind, here’s how to write a CV in 5 simple steps:

1. Cover all bases

This is the easy part. The essential nuts and bolts of your CV will always be the same, and these include: contact details, a personal profile, work history (in reverse chronological order), education and qualifications/achievements.

It sounds basic, but you’d be amazed at how many people get this wrong. Failing to include the simple stuff will see your CV rejected straight away.

Takeaway tip: You don’t need to include the standard ‘References available upon request’ section on your CV. Firstly, it eats up valuable room. Secondly, references generally aren’t needed until the post-interview stage and so don’t really belong on a CV. Finally, if the employer wants references, they’ll just go ahead and ask.

2. Don’t neglect presentation

A CV is a reflection of what you bring to the table. No matter how talented or hardworking you are, a sloppy CV says that you’re a sloppy worker.

So, you need a well-structured layout which is clean, uncluttered and consistent when it comes to formatting. This means no tiny font sizes and no text boxes squeezed into margins. Strive for digestible paragraphs presented with a formal typeface and most importantly, create your CV in a Word document to make it as easy as possible for the employer to view.

Takeaway tip: The ‘hotspot’ of any CV is the upper middle area of the first page. That’s the focal point for any recruiter – make it count by including your key information there.

3. Focus on results

A CV isn’t a list: it’s a professional pitch. An inventory of everywhere you’ve ever worked and every task you’ve ever completed might tick the right boxes, but it doesn’t convey the impact you’ve made.

To win interviews, you need to show what you’ve delivered. Include your role responsibilities by all means, but demonstrate the results you’ve garnered within them. Talk numbers and timescales, outline changes you’ve instigated and emphasise the impact that your skills have made on projects. That way, your CV stops being a summary and becomes a persuasive marketing document.

Takeaway tip: Avoid CV buzzwords and filler phrases such as “strong track record” or “extensive experience.” Your results should do the talking for you.

4. Check, check and check again

Typo? Grammatical mistake? You’ve massively reduced your chances of an interview, regardless of how well-suited you are for the role.

Employers don’t want to hire people who make avoidable errors. A CV slip-up will make you look like a slapdash worker who doesn’t take the time to get important things right. That’s why you need to make sure your CV is 100% error-free before you hit that all-important ‘send’ button.

Takeaway tip: Leave your CV for an hour or two before going back to proof-read it. You’ll be more likely to spot any small mistakes when your mind is no longer fresh on the wording.

5. Customise your CV for each role

Taking a one size fits all approach with your CV isn’t going to work. To land the job you really want, you need to adjust your CV to better match its requirements.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean rewriting the whole thing from scratch. All that’s needed is a little strategy.

So, thoroughly read the job description and the skills and experiences it requires. Research the company and its ethos. Then, tweak your CV accordingly, with an emphasis on any points or personal values which could help your application for the role.

Takeaway tip: You can afford to be more selective about what to include in a customised CV. If, for example, you’ve undertaken any former contracting work which isn’t relevant to the role in question, you don’t need to include it. Keep a sharp focus and don’t lose sight of the specific experiences the employer would be most interested in.

Well, would your CV pass the 6-second test? Submit yours today and we’ll get you matched up with roles that suit your skills.

HR Manager

Chloe Burchell

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