How to Write a CV

December 3, 2020

- Tips on Selling Yourself on Paper from a Recruitment Expert

Updating your CV is something we all know we should do regularly. Yet it's often not the top of our priority list until we are actively seeking a new role. Let’s be honest, it’s not exactly the most exciting activity… unless you’re like us and love to write a great CV.

How do you make your CV stand out from the crowd of 100’s to 1,000’s of other candidates? Jamie Doyle a recruitment expert and talent coach, tells us how to make your CV it's best. It's time to turn those job applications into interviews!

Instead of writing your CV as a simple summary of your skills and career history so far, start seeing it as a sales pitch. Your CV should sell you as the best possible candidate for the role and company you are applying for. This is why doing your research is important. Spend more time focusing on the quality of a few job applications, rather than applying to as many as possible.

“On average Hiring Manager’s will skim read your CV in 10/15 seconds for key indicators that you’re a strong fit. This is how long you have to make a great first impression, or they’ll move onto the next CV.”

How to structure your CV?
  • ALWAYS include your name, current role, contact number, email address and desired location at the top of your CV, so that it is easy for hiring managers to find. If you have LinkedIn or other professional social platforms, include your URL’s too.
  • Keep your CV to 2/3 pages.
  • The key subheadings on your CV should include a Personal Summary, Career History, Skills, Training & Qualifications, and Education.
  • Start your Career History with your most recent role and work backwards
  • If you have a long career history, only include detail about your most recent and relevant roles. E.g. stick to the last 10 years, or most recent 5 roles. You can summarise the rest to your job title and the company you worked for.
  • Use bullet points to list your responsibilities as the eye naturally reads these first.
  • If you have a lot of skills to list, group them together related on relevancy and expertise to make it easier to read.

How to write a Personal Summary?

Your personal summary is like an elevator pitch, it’s all about your voice. It should give an insight into your personality and communication style. A Personal Summary will make you stand out when compared to similar applicants. Take extra time to get your personal summary reflecting you as an individual.

What Thompson Alexander do as part of our CV and Interview coaching is interview you to find the voice that is in your CV. We’re not just looking for a list of key words, but how you can emotionally connect with the person reading your CV. By analysing how Hiring Manager’s read your CV, we can optimise it to make it stand out from other CV’s on the market.

Why should you write a Cover Letter if I have a Personal Summary on your CV?

Design your Cover Letter around the job you’re applying for. If I was applying for an Accounting role in a large Bank, I would include that I have banked with them for years (if true!), and that I like their brand image and ethical values etc.

If I was applying for the same role in a smaller company around the corner from me, it would say something different. I’d mention that I’m applying for the role because I live locally, and very interested in their company culture because it matches my experience.

Too many people are simply looking for a job not the job. A Cover Letter should state what you are passionate about, interested in outside of work, and that you care about the specific role you’re applying for.

What are common CV mistakes?
  1. Spelling and grammar mistakes. If there are any major mistakes your CV will often get dismissed by Hiring Manager’s, so make sure to proofread before sending. Or get a friend to read it over.
  2. No personality coming through – your CV should showcase you and your personality. This is why Personal Summaries are vital!
  3. Lengthy descriptions for each job role you’ve had is a big no. It instantly puts off the person viewing your CV as it’s difficult to read. Recruiter’s and Hiring Manager’s often have 100+ CV’s to read. Making yours simple to understand and digest will put you in with the best chance of being shortlisted.
  4. CV’s that are too long. Often people put in too much information about when they first started working in jobs that are no longer relevant to their career. It’s got to be about your current role and skill match.
  5. Avoid using generic phrases like “hard worker”, “team player”, “honest” and “reliable”. These are things expected by everyone in their place of work and don’t make you stand out from the crowd. Instead use action statements that give evidence of the value you add. For example, use words like “achieved”, “managed”, “negotiated”, and “trained”.
  6. Bad font use. Use a clear and easy to read font and a font size of 12 – we recommend Arial or Calibri.

At Thompson Alexander we offer a range of services depending on your CV and Interview Coaching requirements. We can optimise your CV and help you prepare ahead of interviews so that you can go in confident and strong. If you would like support writing your CV or Interview Coaching get in touch with one of our experts today at or Click Here

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