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Back to Basics: Where to start with creating a CV that your new employer will want to read

Updated: Oct 10

Is your CV in the same format as it was 20 years ago. just with some more jobs added at the top?! If yes, then read on to find out how to lay it out to sell your skills now.


! Before you start fiddling with your CV, you need to know what sort of job you are looking for. Working on the CV before you've done this is a waste of time and putting the cart before the horse, so take the time to do it. Having a base document with dates and titles is fine, but I wouldn't advise you to go any further without a job/jobs in mind. Also, it's a good idea NOT to have the idea that you're happy to do anything so will work with and send out a very generic CV. It just won't stick and will be clear to employers that you don't want THEIR job, just any job. It's fine to have and use a Plan A, B or C but doing the work to decide what these are is really important. If you're not sure of your next move, this post might help https://www.lauriemacpherson.com/post/how-to-figure-out-your-next-move !


Now here's how to lay it out and what to include and leave out:


Personal Details: Name, email, phone number, LinkedIn profile if you use it (Nothing else. No age, date of birth, marital status etc)


Personal Profile: This tells the recruiter how you fit the role that you are going for. Use the job description and tell them you have what they are looking for (as long as you do of course).


Key Skills/Competencies: Bullet point these and keep them industry specific and related to what the job description is asking for. Avoid good timekeeping, good at working as part of a team and good at working on my own/other generic skills. 

Key Successes/Achievements: These should be quantifiable where possible and show results. What changed as a result of you being there? If you are thinking about putting something in, think 'so what' to think of where it led or what it resulted in. 


Examples - Reduced sickness levels from 5% to 0.5% within the first three months in post.

Implemented new HR system saving 1 hour onboarding time per new staff member


Employment History: This should be in reverse chronological order so show your most recent job first. Quantify when you can and highlight key successes and achievements, rather than just listing responsibilities.

You only need to go back 10 - 15 years or around 6 jobs unless specifically asked for a full checkable history for jobs which need security clearance.


Education and Training: Should include industry specific training and university and higher level qualifications. If you don't have these, the name of your school and 'Educated to Higher Level' or whatever applies is all you need.


Voluntary Work: If you have it and it's relevant should go here.


Interests: Only include if they are interesting! Or demonstrate high levels of dedication or prowess.

General Tips: Keep it to no more than 2/2.5 pages (unless it’s an academic CV which should NOT follow this format)

Make sure the spacing, layout, font and size are the same throughout. Arial/Calibri 11 are easy to read.

Check and double check spelling (if this is not your thing, get someone else to read it)

If you’ve job hopped, clump similar types of roles together.

If you haven’t got much work history, discuss school/college/university projects and any teams/groups you were in and what you achieved there.

Avoid making it too chatty and the use of I where possible. 

Avoid negativity.


There is no one gold standard for CV's but this is a good place to start. If you need help with this, I can sort your CV in 60 minutes with a CV Sorted in 60 Power Hour. These cost £175 and you will leave with a CV tailored to a role and the knowledge to do this yourself in future. You can book here https://calendly.com/lauriemacpherson/cvsortedin60



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