8 Tips for successful CV writing

If you are looking for a new career, you will be well aware that an effective CV will open the interview door for you. It will get you to where you need to be so that your personality can take over. Up to that point, your CV must reflect not only your experience but also give some insight to your personality. The more an interviewer can see and sense from your CV – the better!

CV writing is a really important topic and ‘one size does not fit all.’ Your CV deserves your time, energy and focus because it is the foundation for successful job applications but here are a few initial tips to help.

1.  Always put yourself in the place of the CV reviewer or interviewer

They will only have a limited time to decide if your CV qualifies you for an interview, so keep it brief and relevant. Two pages is a good guide, no more than three.

2.  Bear in mind they will be looking for answers to four key questions:  

What do you want to do?  

Your Profile should  be at the top of your CV. Be very clear about what you are looking for from the role. Change it as necessary for different roles and employers so that your objective is clear and focused. The CV reviewer will not wish to guess and may just reject your application at the first stage.

Why are you qualified to do it?

Using bullet points, provide a Summary of why you are qualified to accomplish your objective. Put yourself in the reviewer’s place again and think “Why should they hire me?”

How well have you done it?

The Key Achievements section is vital and appropriate regardless of your level of experience. All companies employ people to solve  a problem of some nature. Achievement based CVs are, therefore, powerful as the prospective employer can see very quickly if  your experience could resolve their specific problem based on past experience. Perhaps you are thinking that you didn’t achieve very much but, even if you did not achieve all objectives, think of the value you did provide. Think of the times you were given  positive feedback and encouragement, earned promotions and made contributions. Perhaps you saved the company money or helped team members with challenges. Think as broadly as you can.

In this section, make sure that your choice of words is dynamic, such as Achieved, Delivered, Promoted, Managed, Created etc…

Where have you done it?

In the Experience section, state the companies where you have worked with the appropriate dates plus your roles and responsibilities. It is best to write them in reverse chronological order and make sure there are no gaps. If you have not worked for a period, then say why. If you just leave a gap, it will raise a negative in the reviewer’s mind so face it head on. The interviewer will be far more respectful of an honest CV  and would be unlikely to trust ambiguity.

3. Education & Qualifications

List where you attended school and university and the qualifications you achieved. Include professional qualifications and memberships.

4.  Finish off with Personal Details & Interests

Which should include nationality, marital status, current driving licence and key interests. Companies are generally impressed if candidates have varied interests.  For instance, if you are a member of Rotary or Rotaract, this will show that you have a community spirit. Equally, if you are a graduate returning from a gap year abroad, this can show inner resourcefulness, but it is by no means essential.

5. You should not state your Age on a CV

Companies are no longer permitted to ask your age on an application form or CV.

6. Also just state References by Request  …

rather than list your referees’ contact details, otherwise they may regret offering if they receive too many requests!

7. Be positive, concise, factual

There is no universal format for writing a CV, but it should be positive, concise, factual and give some insight to your character.

8. Try to avoid high colours and dramatic layout

Unless you are applying for a role in a very creative industry where it might be appreciated.


Summary of the elements of your CV

  • Profile
  • Summary
  • Key Achievements
  • Experience Summary
  • Education & Qualifications
  • Personal Details & Interests
  • References by Request




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