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Create a Winning CV

1 January 2020 by Mitch O'Brien
Writing A Cv 01

There is lots of information out there about the best way to format and present a CV. Whilst I have taken some of the most useful, I have also based this on my experience working with candidates and clients in the built environment.

Firstly, make your CV easy to read – don’t overcomplicate it. Here are some basic tips:
  • Use Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or widely accepted fonts 
  • Try to limit your CV to two pages, with three being the absolute maximum
  • Use bullet points to highlight key aspects and avoid long paragraphs 
  • Don’t include your date of birth, sex, or marital status
Your CV should be clear and easy to understand. Here is my recommended structure:
Contact Details
  • Put your name at the top of the first page, followed by your contact details – make sure that you put your correct mobile number and only put an email address if you check it regularly
  • Use a professional email address
  • Front covers are not necessary
Personal Profile tailored to each role
  • Two personal qualities
  • Current role/last role
  • Your relevant skills
  • Aims: type of role you are looking for or type of organisation you would like to work for
Core Skills
  • These should be tailored to each job description and person specification. Look at the core competencies in each section and detail how you demonstrate these
  • Use the formula ‘named skill + demonstration’ – e.g. “Strong budget management skills evidenced through the management of a £10 million facilities budget in my most recent role.”
Work History
  • List these in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent first
  • Include dates of employment, employer’s name and job title
Alongside the positions themselves, detail two principle points in this section – your responsibilities and your achievements. Without the latter, you will not have any evidence of the competencies and skills that you have developed in each role. For example: 
  • “Responsible for coordinating the provision of comprehensive IT support service across two London offices totalling 500 staff.”
  • “Managed a team of four helpdesk support engineers –including performance and career management and recruitment.”
  • “Negotiated cost-savings of £30,000 through the creation of a PSL.”
  • Only list those that are relevant – i.e. your degree or chartership. Do you really need to record your GSCEs on this CV?
  • Like your work history, list these in reverse-chronological order with the most recent (or relevant) first 
Hobbies & Interests
  • Keep this section succinct
  • Can you match some of your interests to the company’s culture? For example, “I play football every week, and would be interested in joining the company’s team.” 
Double Check your CV
  • Check your CV carefully – always run a spell check over it and re-read to check it also makes sense
  • Give the description of the role that you are applying for to a friend, and ask them to review the CV. Response handling agencies will often not be technical experts – this will be a good way to see how easily your CV can be matched to the job description
Remember: your CV is the first impression your potential employer will have of you. Take the time to get it right. You may not have a second chance.