How to write a CV that gets you interviews is an important issue for most of our career coaching clients. The start point is to remember that the purpose of your CV is to tell the recruiter how well you fit the job for which you are applying. It is not to give a full biographical account of your life.
It’s a well known fact that most recruiters will make up their mind about your CV about two thirds of the way down page one. So that’s how long you have to communicate why you should get an interview. That is the main purpose of your CV – to get an interview. Look at it like the key to the door. This career coaching article describes how to write a CV that gets you interviews that you want. It includes an example CV that you can use as a CV template for your own. This CV approach has worked very well for many of our successful career coaching clients. So the guidance given is not based on theory but its practical use by our Career Coaches and their career coaching clients.
So your CV should be no longer than two pages long, three at the absolute most. The key information needs to be on page one so that it is clear to the recruiter that you have all the right attributes for the job. This does mean tailoring your CV for different types of job so that it clearly hits the mark. You don’t need to change the whole thing, but you may need to amend the profile and the key skills sections. Remember your CV says a lot about you so make sure it has an impactful layout, is punchy and has no spelling or grammatical errors. There are specific tips on format at the end of this article.
Writing Your CV
This section is written such that all the career coaching guidance and tips are used in the example CV at the end of the article.
You should not head your CV with Curriculum Vitae. It is obvious what it is and this wastes space. Start instead with your name at the top and centred below it your address and contact details. Make sure that your email address is business like, not something like BigNoise @………….
Your profile is very important it is a communication of what you have to offer an employer and should be tailored to the requirements of the job. Think of it as the three or four messages you want to get across about you. It’s a bit like a personal ‘elevator pitch’. It is this statement that can distinguish you from the competition for a job so it needs to be written with care. It should be no longer than four or five sentences long.
One good way to consider what goes in it is; who you are, what you have to offer and what is the right kind of challenge for you next. We sometimes ask our career coaching clients how they would like to be introduced at an informal event to a Director of a company at which they would like to work. One thing to avoid is extensive lists of meaningless adjectives. So rather than say highly experienced, why not say how many years experience that you have. The kind of thing that wastes space is a profile that reads ‘Highly experienced, motivated and proactive manager…..’
Key Skills/Major Achievements
This section is your opportunity to list around five or six key skills you have that make you suitable for the job, again they must be linked to the job requirements. They can also put a bit more detail on your profile. The best way to list your skills is to start with the skill or competency in bold. This format is used on the example CV below. When done well this quickly shows the recruiter how you meet the key requirements of the job.
Some people prefer to put major achievements instead of key skills. If you do this make sure they are written in the format which includes – what you did/with or to what/with what result, for example:
- Reduced overhead costs by £20m through the effective implementation of the people aspects of a major organisational change programme
The major achievements should act as an endorsement of all the claims you make in your profile statement.
At this stage you have probably filled half of page one so you need to have nearly convinced the recruiter you have the experience to be worth interviewing!
You should then list each company and the jobs you did in each company in date order. Start with the most recent job first. For jobs in the last ten years you need more detail than earlier roles. Under each of the recent jobs start with two bullet points that give the reader an idea of the scope of you role and its responsibilities. These may include things like; the number of staff reporting to you, budget responsibility, sales target. Following this list your achievements in each role. As far as possible they should be in a format which includes – what you did/to or with what/with what result. Each statement should start with a good positive action verb such as; developed, implemented, created, designed. Do not use more passive verbs such as; liaised and coordinated. Make each statement an expression of what you achieved not what you did as part of a team. So a poor statement would be:
- Team member of the group that designed the new customer service initiative which led to a 20% increase in ratings
Instead put in your role and what you personally contributed;
- Developed the systems design and implementation plan to accompany the new customer service initiative which led to a 20% increase in ratings
As you move from one job to the next, where possible use terms like ‘appointed to’ or ‘selected for’ this shows you were well regarded by previous employers.
Here you should include all qualifications that are relevant to the job. This would normally be the two highest level of qualifications e.g. Degree and A levels. You do not however have to list each A level or GCSE, or include the name of your school. The only time these things are relevant is if it is your first CV after leaving school or college.
In this section list the training and development since you started work. Again list those courses most likely to be relevant to the job for which you are applying.
There is no need to include on your CV your age. In the UK it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age. You do not need to include you marital status. Only include interests if in some way they may be relevant to the application. So reading, music and watching TV is unlikely to be helpful to your application. But if you work for a charitable organisation and this has given you some relevant skills you may want to mention at interview you should include it.
- Use Arial font 11 or 12
- Make use of bullet points
- Avoid jargon related to your company only
- Use bold for the profile at the start
- Make a margin of 2.5 cm
- Ensure good spacing for maximum impact and readability
Carl Pearson – Example CV
Home telephone: Number
Results focused Director of Human Resources with a 10 year proven record of success. Able to develop and deliver HR strategies to support the successful achievement of business objectives. Strong commercial skills with extensive expertise in change management, talent development, acquisitions and disposals
- General Management; Operating Board member and leader of award winning team of 70 HR professional staff
- Acquisitions and Disposals; established and led the HR aspects of a £500m programme of outlet sales and disposals
- Talent Development; implementation of talent development programmes to build organisational capability and succession by 30%
- Managing Business Change; led and successfully delivered major change programmes in order to reduce costs by £10m and grow sales by 5%
- HR Strategy; development and implementation of HR strategies to underpin the successful achievement of business transformation goals
Smothers & Lamb PLC 1990 – present
European Director of Human Resources 2000 – present
- Appointed to Lead a team of 70 HR professionals supporting a £3 billion turnover business with 50,000 employees
- Member of the Divisional Board responsible for the development and implementation of HR strategy and policy
- Improved levels of employee motivation and engagement by 14% over a three year period
- Improved staff productivity and service by implementing a sales initiative which resulted in £5m revenue increase and 20% increase in guest satisfaction
- Led the HR aspects of the acquisition and integration of 240 outlets
- Implemented industry leading development programmes for operational management to improve capability in retailing, supporting a 35% growth in volumes over a two year period
UK HR Manager 1994 – 2000
- Selected to direct all aspects of HR for 1,800 outlets and 30,000 employees
- Group wide responsibility for employee relations across Europe
- Managed the HR part of the estate strategy that resulted in the disposal of 1000 businesses and the acquisition of 650. The successful implementation of this programme led to an increase in average weekly sales of 60%
- Developed and introduced validated selection and assessment processes for retail management and corporate staff improving quality of appointments
- Improved the quality of retail management training and reduced costs by 30% by the introduction of a new company wide approach
- Increased independent customer service audit results by 20% through the introduction of retail staff brand audition events designed to match the values and attitudes of staff to target consumer groups
HR Manager – South 1990 – 1994
- Managed all aspects of HR for the South division of what was then called Concerto Stores Group
Orient Retailing 1988 – 1990
- Selected for the company graduate programme and completed one year of HR placements before being appointed as UK Training Manager with responsibility for 250 stores and 3400 Retail Staff
Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
MSc in Business Administration
Harvard Advanced Management Programme – 8 weeks
Qualified user OPQ, 16PF and MBTI
Qualified user Ability Tests
Keywords; Career Coaching, Career Coaching Company, Career Coach, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Services, Career Coaching Provider, CVs, CV Template, CV Example
Keywords: career coach, Career Coaching, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Company, Career Coaching Provider, Career Coaching Services, CV Example, CV Template, CVs, Drafting a CV, Successful CVs, Writing a CV
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