How to Write a CV that Does You Justice

“I’m hopeless at writing about myself…………”

“I feel my CV doesn’t do me justice, but I can’t put my finger on what is wrong with it…………”

“I can’t seem to cut my CV down – it just goes on and on…………”

“I know if I could just get an interview I could convince them that I’m right for the job…………”

Do any of these comments sound familiar? Are you struggling to identify what makes you special to future employers, or communicate the transferable skills that you have developed?

In a competitive job market it is vitally important that your CV effectively markets you – too long and you lose your reader’s interest, too brief and you may lose an opportunity as the reader may assume you lack relevant experience.

Follow these tips to help you develop more impactful CVs –

  • Evaluate – your experience, skills, interests and values: how will they add value to an employer?
  • Research – what competencies and experience are important in the roles you are targeting?
  • Organise – highlight key skills for your reader – but make sure you can back them up and avoid clichés!
  • Write – keeping format as simple as possible – no fancy fonts, tables or complicated formatting; plain white paper, no photo and keep font at 10 or 12 points!
    –  In the 3rd person, highlighting the context you worked in and your achievements.
    – Add a concise professional profile highlighting your value proposition – but lose the ‘Curriculum Vitae’ heading!
    – Bullet points are helpful, as is separating out your responsibilities from your achievements.
    – Be succinct – school leavers and graduates should aim at 1-1.5 pages maximum. If you have more experience and really believe your experience is relevant then you can stretch to 2-3 pages, but remember your CV is not your life story – it’s a summary of what you have achieved to date that will help you going forward in your desired role.
  • Review – again and again and again!
    – Use spell check but don’t rely on it!
    – Be ruthless in taking out information that won’t help your application. School exams, Saturday jobs and examples of leading school/university clubs will help you in entry level jobs – you’ll be hired as a Finance Director for other qualities.
    – Get someone who really knows you to read your CV – does it truly represent what you offer and what you have achieved?
    – Get someone else who doesn’t know you to read it – what impression do they get of you and your skills?
    – Keep reviewing your CV – it’s easier to update every year – and it’s a good developmental exercise to reflect on what you have achieved to date.

And…………….add a tailored cover letter for each application!

Still struggling?
Drawing on extensive interviewing and CV writing experience, I can draw out your abilities, passions and expertise. Taking the time to consider your career to date, your skills and achievements, and how they will help your target employer will not only help you make an impactful application, it is also great preparation for interview and may raise your confidence or reveal opportunities/paths you were previously unaware of. Following our career review I will then produce an individual CV that reflects your distinctive abilities, and that is grounded in tangible achievements, rather than a template with a list of ‘buzz words’. Through Westwood Careers I also offer career coaching, advice on using social media for your job hunt and interview coaching – for when your CV gets you to interview!

Rachael Brookman
Westwood Careers – Experienced & Pragmatic Careers Advice


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About the Author

Alex McCann

Alex McCann runs Altrincham HQ - a Social Media Marketing company with 100+ recommendations on Linkedin and ranked Number 1 for Social Media Marketing in the UK on Freeindex

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