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How to write a CV

over 5 years ago by Alex Hathiramani

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There is no set way to write a CV, no formula that will instantly get you a job, but there are things you can do to improve your case for a new position. 

Profile / Synopsis

A good profile isn’t essential but it can certainly help. Here is where you discuss your character and your skill set. It is a chance to also explain possibly your greatest achievement and the qualifications you hold. Be concise and clear, employers won’t read too much text so don’t make it any longer than 100 to 150 words.

Employment History

This is a fundamental part of your CV so it’s very important you get this right. The first thing you have to ask when writing this part is whether this is easy to read and is clear. Always start with your most recent role and follow in chronological order from then on. The most recent roles require the most attention. I would say the last 5 or 10 years worth of employment history require the most attention. My best suggestion for a clear employment history layout is as follows:

Employer Name

Position

Date from to Date to (present day if you are still employed by them)

Key Duties / Key Responsibilities:

  • Point 1

  • Point 2

  • Point 3 etc

Key Achievements:

  • Point 1

  • Point 2

  • Point 3 etc

I normally put key achievements in because that is what you have achieved in your role, big or small. This is really important because it gives an employer an idea of how you improved your current business or previous businesses and the initiative you have shown. Think of any projects you have been a part of or system improvements or cost saving initiatives or just making things efficient in general. Don’t worry if you don’t have many or any achievements, you can simply leave this out, however, it is a nice touch.  

On the key duties part, literally think of every task you have done and rank them by importance. Normally the first 5 or 6 are the ones an employer wants to see. My preference is to take out menial tasks such as “ad-hoc duties” unless they have a reason to be there such as tasks covering for a colleague from month to month. Once you have listed all of your tasks you will clearly see what you want to keep on your CV and what you don’t, this is a really useful exercise and sometimes is overlooked.

Education

This again is a subjective point; however, I normally like seeing things like this after your employment history. It can be really wherever you like, but that is my preference.  I would say you would want to state your GCSEs (or equivalent), A-Levels (or equivalent) and your higher education such as degree subject, university (or college) and the grade. If you have anything above degree level follow the same format and state it, such as a masters or PHD. I also add in dates on any level of education.

An example is as follows:

  • Sample School (Year Start – Year End) - 11 GCSEs (A-C )

  • Sample School (Year Start – Year End) - 3 A-levels, Maths (A), Physics (A), Chemistry (A) - 2001

  • University / College Name (Year Start – Year End) BA hons in Sample Subject, (2:1)

  • Anything higher, same process

Qualifications

The next one is your qualifications. You need to list out all of your relevant qualifications that satisfy your job industry (example: don’t add in qualified Rugby coach on this part that can go into hobbies). Also, include dates on this. For example:

  • Example 1. ACA (qualified 2005)

  • Example 2. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), (F1 - F3) Completed, F5 to be sat in December 2016

Key skills and Languages

Again this is the place where you put in your skills and languages or any other attributes you hold that are relevant to work. So your excel skill-set, any accounting systems you have used, any languages you hold and any other attributes on top.

System Skills:

  • Intermediate excel (pivot tables, v-lookups, what-ifs, sum ifs)

  • Xero

  • Oracle

  • SAP

Languages

  • English – Mother tongue

  • French – Fluent, Written and oral

  • Spanish – Basic

Any other attributes that you also think are relevant are fine in this section.

Hobbies and interests

It’s always good to add any hobbies you have. Sports or recreational activities are surprisingly important. It gets a feel for you as a person and makes you more than just a name on a piece of paper. It’s also a talking point in interview.

Synopsis

CVs are an extremely subjective topic, I have had 8 years in recruitment, however, there are many employers and other recruiters out there who are much older and wiser than I am and some of them like a CV in a different format. One concurrent theme between all of us, however, is clarity, so always make sure your CV is clear, in a good format and is easy to read and you can’t really go wrong.  Ensure you have spell checked your CV and have read it at least 3 or 4 times so you are happy with it before disclosing with any employer / recruiter.