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How to Write a CV

For each good position there will probably be hundreds of CV applications.  Often employers hire 3 or 4 recruitment agencies each of whom will supply 3 or 4 CVs to the company from about 20 - 40 job applications.  On top of this the company has a recruitment section on their website where they probably received dozens of CVs.  The process normally goes like this - filter the CVs down to an acceptable amount to present to a specialist, then get the specialist to select the ones they want to interview.  The specialist will likely be very busy (otherwise why would they be hiring someone else?) so they will most likely use gut-instinct to select the people they wish to interview.

  • Add a summary of who you are.  Include the keywords they're hunting for and try and paint a picture of the career path you are on.  Don't be afraid to include a statement about what/who you are aiming to be.  Target this summary primarily at the specialist - think of who they would like to work with.
  • Experience statements should describe things you have achieved, demonstrate skills/talents/characteristics you have and ideally be about how you made money, saved money or time, or made customers happy for your previous employers.  Put anything wooly in here and your CV will likely be skipped.
  • Tailor your CV for the position they are describing.  The best place to do this is in your experience statement.  e.g. if you have four or five particular technical skills in your area but their job advert is only looking for one or two then try and emphasise these skills by altering your experience statement to describe different situations you've experienced which show those skills in action.
  • Make sure you've included all the keywords agents are likely to filter for.  Try not to include more than they're looking for as this can look like spam.  Agency CV filters are like search engines so it's often better if the keywords are contained inside regular text but you should add a list of your key strengths (which match the keywords in their job advert) in your summary.
  • Include your education.  This is more important when you are younger, but even more experienced individuals should include a short summary.  If you don't include your education on your CV it leaves an unanswered question in the interviewers head which will likely make them filter-out your CV.  This counts even if you have very little education.
  • Include a short statement about stuff you like doing outside of work.  When researching the company, if you found that they regularly do social activities that you enjoy then include them here.
  • Include a summary of your key personality strengths.  If you don't know what they are, take our free personality test.  Feel free to keep your weaknesses out of your CV - they will instead be discussed at interview where you will get the chance to turn them into strengths.
  • Don't lie about skills you have on your CV, especially not if they are key skills the company is looking for.  You're just wasting everyone's time.  Any decent interviewer will probe deeper into your skills so if it's a key one you will get found out.  e.g if you only used a single Excel spreadsheet which someone else created and all you did was fill in the spreadsheet then when describing Excel Skills don't say you have excellent Excel skills - say you're familiar with it or better yet, leave it out of your CV altogether.
  • Keep your CV focused.  Aim for two pages and you should find that you only keep your best strengths and experiences on there which will make the interview far easier for you.

If you need more help with preparing your CV you should consider making use of our professional CV review service.


im looking for some assistance, im trying to do a CV for my Dad who has been out of work for more than 20 years due to health issues, he was on Benefits during this period and has no qulifications, I am struggling to make a start on his CV and was looking for tips on what I should include, his work life prior to the 20+ yrs consisted of working in a meat market and industrial cleaning for various supermarkets. any help is appreciated.

Thanks in advance
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

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