Six Steps to Writing a Killer C.V.

1 May 2013

Your C.V. is an advert and, as with any advert, you need to get across the most relevant information quickly and concisely, with focus on the areas that matter most to the people you’re targeting. These six easy steps should help you to look at your C.V. critically, turning it from an also-ran to a permanent fixture at the top of the pile.

1.  Get the content right and the length will follow

Your C.V. should be as long as it needs to be to get all of the relevant information across, and no longer. As a rule, sometimes this is two pages, sometimes three. Don’t be tempted to pad it out with meaningless waffle or lengthy descriptions but do make sure all of your relevant qualifications are there. Make sure it’s easy to read and that the key information is provided upfront.

2.  Include all of the necessary information

Make sure that everything that supports your application is there, ready for a prospective employer to see. Include details on some of your key cases or notable client wins. References should be very strong, particularly at the top level. Your education and qualification history needs to be detailed at the most recent level, but don’t feel as though you need to list all of your GCSE grades.

3.  Get information across quickly, in an attractive layout

Positioning is everything. Most people who receive your C.V. will firstly scan read it in around twenty seconds. In that time, you need to make sure your C.V. does enough to show that you’re the person they’re looking for. Important information at the top: everything else shuffled down.

4.  Write a compelling personal profile

Your personal profile shouldn’t be more than a handful of sentences but it is worth taking the time to make sure those sentences are punchy and relevant. Remember the above point: your C.V. is only going to get twenty seconds initially. Make that time count.

5.  Specific achievements

The achievements listed in your C.V. need to have weight behind them. Don’t fall into the trap of just listing cases you’ve been involved in; quantify what you contributed to each one. If you are talking financial performance, give specific details of facts and figures. This level of detail allows you to accurately show the reader exactly what you can be expected to contribute to their company in the future.

6.  Spelling and grammar

At risk of teaching people to suck eggs, this is absolutely essential. Poor spelling is a quick way to easy C.V. rejection. If you can’t get the detail right in your application, people will wonder quite how great you’re going to be at client letters and tenders. Make sure you’re consistent as well; if you capitalise the first letter of ‘Partner’, do it throughout your document.

These six tips should have you well on the road to creating a killer C.V. but remember that, in general, your C.V. will be best when it speaks articulately for you. You might never get the chance to explain inconsistencies, clear up confusion, or fill in the blanks. The C.V. is your ‘pitch’. Invest the time to make it exceptional.