CV Writing Guide

If you’re looking to update your CV, but don’t want to pay to get it done, I’ve written a very short CV writing guide of 11 (1 more than 10!) pointers.


Some posts you come across like this will now go into depth about what a CV is, different types of CV etc just to keep you on the page to help their rankings, but this post goes straight into it!

1. Length

2 – 2½ pages is the optimum length for a CV.

2. Contact Details

Address; email (hyperlinked); mobile phone. Put your full address including postcode – recruiters use distance searches to find you and without this they won’t find you!

3. Profile

A CV should have a short profile (3-4 lines) at the start that says what you are, e.g. a salesman, a forklift truck driver, an HR specialist and what field(s) you’ve worked in.

4. Key Skills

A Key Skills section with between 6 and 8 specific skills that relate to a job specification should come next. Tell them what you can do. An example might be:

  • Time Management – Highly organised, able to work to deadlines and to adapt quickly and calmly to changing priorities.

5. Job Details

The headers for each job role need to scan as Job Title; Employer; Dates. There should be an explanation of the role (and your positioning); describe the business (they may not know your employers); and there should be specific achievements. And for god’s sake do it in reverse chronological order!

6. Qualifications

Qualifications must be sequenced in order of relevance and be written as Qualification; Establishment; Date.

7. Training

Include evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). List relevant training courses, certified or otherwise – they all help.

8. Grammar/Spelling

Use the spell checker but watch out for capitalised words as they get ignored.

9. Style

The style needs to be clean and modern with clear separation between sections. Use a modern type face like Calibri or Arial. Don’t use text boxes or columns. Scanning software used by job boards and ATS (see below) doesn’t like them and you will lose information.

10. Applicant Tracking Systems

These are used by many employers and recruiters to filter out candidates that don’t fit a profile. They’re easy to get past if you use a simple layout and make sure that your CV/resume has key words in the Profile and Key Skills that tally with the job description.

11. Achievements

Wherever possible use numbers to show how you improved things. If you can’t do that, use the past tense when describing your employment so that it reads as completed tasks and not expectations.

So there you go, my very brief CV writing guide. Alternatively, I can review your existing CV free of charge and you can make a more informed decision about using my services :)