Professional Guide to CV Writing

Before you write your CV. Do you understand what the purpose of having a CV is? Is it a legal document to outline everything you’ve done since you were born? Is it a list of what you say your key skills are? Is it about all the contracts you have worked on? Is it about your education? Is it a mission statement about what makes you tick?

It’s not any of them. A CV is a tool to secure you an interview so that you can speak directly with a company about a job. A fancy CV with graphics and dashboards everywhere will not increase your chances unless you are a graphic designer. Keep it clear and simple.

The only format you need is:

  • Most recent position first
  • Accurate dates
  • Clear and easy to understand.

A job application is hugely important for you. Picture 40 open roles on someone’s desk when you write your CV. Do yourself justice. Make it easy to understand what you did, how long for and when. Everyday people who could be the best person for a position lose out due to a badly written CV.

THE FORMAT:

It makes sense to be-spoke your experience to what the role is. Trust in Ariel 10 font for professional communications.  If you have been working outside of your professional career for a year doing up your house; Include one line 2020-2021 Career break to develop a house. Keep the key skills for the job you are applying for easy to understand and on page one of the CV. Do not list all of the duties you covered while renovating the house. Here is an example of what to do:

January 2020- June 2021 – Took a career break to renovate a property

April 2015- July 2020 – Financial Accountant at Global Consultancy

Duties:

  • Management Accounting
  • Budgets
  • Forecasting
  • Managing 4 direct reports including hiring and development

Coming back to the bespoke point. Use the early bullet points to outline the major experience you have for the position you are applying for. If the position is a Vice President role and you need to have managed a team of Directors as an essential skill list that as one of the first points.

Always remember. It may be a recruiter or HR professional who is not technical screening the CVs. If you use TLAs (Three letter acronyms) they may not know them. Use plain English. As a recruiter we need to know what you did, when you did it, how much of it and how long for. Cold hard quantifiable facts.

A list of all your skills and a list of all the positions you have worked in is unusable. Imagine someone looking through a list of all your positions trying to figure out which of the skills you listed were covered.

HOW TO COVER MULTIPLE CONTRACTS ON A CV

If you have been working on multiple contracts over the past year or two groups them together on your CV with a list of duties and systems. Again; It’s all coming back to the CV is a document to secure you an interview. Make it look clean.  Make it easy.

Jan 2017 – Dec 2019

Various interim contracts for companies such as Professional Consultancy, Global IT Business, Global Pharmaceutical Company

Duties:

  • Management Accounting
  • Budgets
  • Forecasting
  • Managing 4 direct reports including hiring and developments

Don’t list all 4 individually as it will falsely appear as though you have moved around a lot when it was all interim contracts.

 JOB TITLES:

The next thing to keep in mind is to always use industry-standard job titles. A purchase ledger clerk can be called, bought ledger, accounts payable but Purchase Ledger is the standard term. Use this. Some businesses call everyone a consultant. Use an industry-standard title that makes it clear what kind of consultant you were. IE Recruitment Consultant or Functional Consultant (Finance Systems). Those two words in the brackets are extremely important as Functional Consultants can also specialise in Supply Chain.

The golden rule when writing your CV is to never assume that the person reading understands your role technically. Never assume they have time to read in deeply to the detail. Make no assumptions at all.

Keep your information clear and concise with just the main relevant duties you covered. You can tie your experience up even more specifically for a role in a short cover letter.  I’ll write another blog on that but in a nutshell, keep your cover letter very short. Use it as a guide to your CV. “I would like to draw your attention to this part of my CV because”…

 COVERING PROMOTIONS OR COMPANY BUYOUTS ON YOUR CV

Keep them in the same position. As with the contracts, the CV needs to look good to the eye and outline the stability of your career. If you have had 3 promotions do not make 3 new positions on your CV. Use this format.

Jan 2015 – Jun 2020 International Global Computer Consultancy plc

Financial Director (May 2019 – Date)

  • Managing 4 management accountants
  • Due diligence and corporate buyouts
  • Attending board meetings
  • Promoted in May 2019 due to outstanding performance

Management Accountant (Jan 2015 – May 2019)

  • Management Accounting
  • Budgets
  • Forecasting
  • Managing 4 direct reports including hiring and developments

 Keep the positions clearly outlined under the same job.

To summarise use the CV to make it clear and obvious why you are applying for a particular position. Most recent position first. Exact dates with months, 2019-2020 can be one month or two years.  Dec 2019-Jan 2020 and Jan 2019-Dec 2020 are two different things.

The less work and figuring out you leave for busy recruiters the better for you. Skills listed under jobs only. This means we can see when and how long you worked on something.

That just leaves your mission statement. Feel free to add in 3 or 4 sentences on this if you like.

Hobbies & interests. I like them. It gives a good insight into what motivates someone but they are not completely necessary. Although if your main interests are politics and blood-sports best to stay controversy-free in that section.

Your education. List it but keep the CV visually focused on your professional experience. The experience at professional rather than graduate level is what employers will want to look at.

A good recruitment agency can advise you on all of this and will never send a CV to an employer unless it’s fit for purpose.

Career Advice