How to write your CV - It's hardly Rocket Science
1st October 2014
... Comments

I can't remember the last time anybody sent me their paper CV, so I'm at a loss to understand why people still write them as though it's 1970 - Your CV will be read on a screen first, so it needs a new approach. You need to get all your big punches in before the reader has to scroll down.

If anybody needs a CV template, I'd be happy to send them one if they send their email address to me at

Here are my Top Tips for getting your CV really working hard for you in your job search:

1 – Your CV is only there to grab attention

It’s role is to get you an interview. It needs to be memorable.

2 – Remember, your CV will be read online first

This means it has to work on a screen. The important bits have to come in early. This is no longer a paper document. Look at it differently.

Make sure you get your key points in before the reader has to scroll down.

3 – Nobody cares about your address

With a need to use early space wisely, put only your name, home town, mobile and email (you could add your Skype address to give an air of connectivity). Employers may care if you’re in Eastbourne, but not that you live in the High Street.

4 – Personal Statement – State the Obvious!

Have about 4 lines about you and your career ambitions. You may feel you’re stating the obvious, but don’t assume the reader knows anything about you. Keep this crisp. Don’t be lazy – make every word work. If you have a psychometric assessment, you may find something you can quote – it adds a little extra objectivity. There's a FREE version if you click here - it's very good.

5 – Next, List Your Skills – No more than six

I see CVs with 20 skills. I get bored. This person gives the impression they get lost in detail. Some people even list different skills in each job. Don't do it!

Just list 6 skills that are real sustainable strengths you can justify with examples and stories when you're at the interview.

6 – List 6 Notable Achievements – If you saved the world in 1999 – sorry, nobody cares

List 6 key achievements, date them and quantify them. Do not put anything older than 10 years ago – it makes you look irrelevant.

7 – Unless you’ve just graduated, don’t be tempted to put your education anywhere early

Education often gets squeezed in before Career – Don’t do it! It gave you your career foundation, but what you’ve achieved at work is what counts here.

8 – Career

Start with your current job and go back from there. Give the employers name, describe what they do in one line, then describe your MAIN responsibilities and MAIN achievements. My preference is for a commentary, but a few bullet points will suffice. If you’ve been promoted during your time, list the leaving job only and mention you were promoted in your commentary.

9 – Make Yourself Interesting!

I disagree with general advice not to put ‘Interests’ to save space. My CV mentions (among other interests) “I avoid golf and gardening at every opportunity”. It’s not world changing, but it adds a little extra interest and suggests to my way of thinking. This small comment is ALWAYS commented on and raises a gentle smile.

10 – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use comic sans!!!!

Amazingly people still use it. DON'T! (unless you want a job at a kindergarten) DO make a deliberate choice about font< and DON'T be so lazy just to use what’s in front of you. My favourite is Trebuchet – clean and modern.

11 – Keep it black and white

If you have a bright, zingy CV/resume it suggests one of two things: Either you like fashion over function, or you’ve had a professional write your CV/resume for you. I promise, both will get probed by any decent recruiter. You don't need the distraction!

12 - Keep it Simple

So many CV/writers try to be far too clever. Keep things simple. To be fair, some jobs have to describe some reassuring detail – but not everybody is applying to be a nuclear scientist!

Your CV opens the door to your future opportunities. You can really differentiate yourself with a little effort to keep things simple and to write for a computer screen. It's not rocket science.

Have a questions about recruitment? Please call the team on 01323 458132

About the Author

Martin Ellis

Member since: 30th September 2014

An East Sussex based Headhunter leading the Executive Search function at RSE Group. I am interested in everything that happens in business and that effects the local community. I think East Sussex is a...

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