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CV Writing – Get the basics right

By Lizzy Caselton. Published on 10 January 2017


Lizzy Caselton, Candidate Manager for our Finance practice provides her tips and reminders here to help write your CV:

Although CVs can be long and tedious to write, and may seem superfluous in the days of the LinkedIn profile and online application forms, they’re still an essential document when you’re looking to advance your career. Because while most researchers working in recruitment will check your LinkedIn profile first, it’s your CV that is likely to be shared with the client and reviewed in most detail. So it’s still essential to fine tune yours to perfection.

This blog aims to give you a few tips and reminders that should help.

It’s vital your CV exudes professionalism and experience without too much ‘white noise’. It should complement your LinkedIn profile, providing greater detail and examples. Ultimately, your CV shows us a surprising amount about your personality as well as your business experience, qualifications and professional acumen.

There are a few key facts we always look for within a CV and whilst stating the obvious, they are commonly forgotten:

1 – Location: even if this is just the county you reside in, you do not want to be discounted automatically from an opportunity because recruiters are unsure of your residence. If you are flexible with regards to location, please mention this.

2 – Contact details: Email and contact telephone number(s).

3 – LinkedIn Profile URL: this should work in tandem with your CV (click here to read our blog: ‘LinkedIn – Get the basics right’) we welcome a link to this in your CV.

There is no need, however, to include your date of birth or age.

The Content

Qualifications:
Include relevant higher education qualifications, such as degrees, and any relevant professional qualifications and training (e.g. PRINCE2, ACA, CIMA).

Professional/ personal summary:
These are not always necessary, however if you do choose to add a summary, make sure it is specific to your goals and aims, highlighting your most prominent experience, functional capability and ideal opportunity going forward. This section can be adapted to the opportunity you’re applying for.

Business experience:
Ensure your previous roles or assignments are in chronological order (most to least recent) with greater focus and detail on the most recent; highlight relevant experience which will further your future progression.

  • Company information; for each business you have worked for, include a sentence or two giving some context of the size, scale and sector of the organisation, even if it’s a well-known brand name. You may also include the number of staff in the company or turnover to give an impression of their scale.
  • Break your roles or assignments down into ‘Key Responsibilities’ and ‘Key Achievements’. Use bullet points to make your experience eye-catching and easy to read, making it obvious what is important.
  • Key Achievements: make sure you illustrate your achievements with tangible facts and figures that evidence your key skills. Ensure you emphasise your personal achievements rather than those of the wider team.

The Layout/ format

  • Ensure you use the space wisely and effectively; do not worry about the number of pages it is as long as there is clear differentiation between job title, company name and a change in role.
  • Tables can be somewhat difficult to read and tend not to add value; they also make the formatting of a document much harder, and can make it look disorganised or difficult to read. Formatting can subconsciously create an impression of your personality so make sure it reflects your approach to work.
  • There’s no need to include company logos – a trend we have noticed recently. They can detract from your skills and experience, drawing too much focus onto brand names and adding unnecessary ‘white-noise’.
  • The same goes for photos. If you have a professional and up-to-date headshot on LinkedIn that is enough. Keep the reader of your CV focused on your experience and achievements.
  • Check your spelling and if possible get a friend or relative to do it for you. Spelling mistakes always leave a bad impression whether these be in the body of your CV, covering letter or any other communication. Creating a shortlist can be a very difficult process, and when forced to choose between two otherwise well-matched candidates, it’s likely the one who shows the greater attention to detail will win through.
  • Some advisors give hard and fast rules about how to write and format CVs. Our advice is simply to stay consistent. This may apply to the formatting i.e. line spacing, font size, font type, colour, headings/titles etc., or the writing style, e.g. whether you are writing in the third or first person. It is important to ensure your CV looks clean and professional.

 

Once you’ve created the perfect CV save it on your hard drive so that it is easy to find and keep it up to date with any achievements and qualifications. You never know when the next opportunity to use it might arise.

To discuss, please get in touch with me or the Research team.

 

Lizzy Caselton

DELIVERY CONSULTANT
INTERIM MANAGEMENT
CFO & FINANCE

Lizzy is a Delivery Consultant for the Interim CFO & Finance team, working closely with the Partners to deliver on interim management assignments.

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