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How to Write a Good CV...


  1. 82% of CVs are rejected at sort stage!
  2. If your CV does not attract the reader's attention in the first 20-30 seconds then your chances of obtaining an interview are greatly reduced.

What are employers looking for in an employee?

Essentially, employers are looking for a person who can add value to their company! Adding value to an employer can only be achieved by getting results.  This is what you must demonstrate to a potential employer at every stage of the recruitment process…including your CV presentation.  In designing your own CV you have the freedom to decide how to present the material in the most effective way for you. It should also give a flavour of your personality – try and make it interesting.  If you are finding it boring to write no doubt it will be boring to read from the reader’s perspective.

Do you want to be a Sales Person?

Whether you do or you don’t, you are going to have to be a sales person…at least while you are looking for a job - you are selling a most valuable product – yourself and all the skills and expertise that you possess!

Your Curriculum Vitae will act as your brochure


It is essentially a selling tool. It’s design, layout, content and structure will create an image and impression for the prospective employer and will thereby determine if you get past the critical sort stage of the recruitment process.

Your brochure (CV) should outline the valuable service that you the salesperson can provide. This valuable service involves the company buying from you…

  • Your Time
  • Your Knowledge e.g. your education, Cert, Diploma or Degree etc.
  • Your experience
  • Your Expertise e.g. computing skills, Time Management skills etc.
  • Your Personal Characteristics e.g. assertiveness, wisdom etc.
  • Your Personal Skills e.g. your communication skills, organizational skills etc.

‘The Mirror Image’
Your CV must focus on those characteristics that are of interest to the employer. Therefore your CV should be adjusted to emphasise those skills that are required for the position being applied for.  The details in your CV should mirror those that the employer is seeking.   It is important to remember that most job applicants are typically only a 70% fit when compared with the original profile/job specification.

‘Mirror Imaging’ means finding out as much as you can about the company and the requirements of the role and thereafter focusing your CV appropriately. You should ascertain the following:

  • What are the company looking for? 
  • What key requirements did they include in the job description / job advertisement? 
  • How specifically are you suited for this particular role and organisation?

Some jobseekers ‘focus’ their CV’s by inflating their experience or qualifications and research has proven that 25% of jobseekers provide false or exaggerated information on their CV’s, ranging from innocent omissions to blatant un-truth’s.  The most common CV lie is about education. Other common lies include:

  • Stretching dates to cover up employment gaps
  • Beefing up salaries
  • Enhancing job titles
  • Embellishing job duties and achievements

It is very important to realise that ‘selling’ and ‘focusing’ your CV is somewhat different to ‘Lying’!!! 
Rather than exaggerating or mis-representing yourself, there are many tips and techniques that can be used to present the “real you” in a positive manner that will help to make you more ‘saleable’ to target employers.
The rest of this module will focus on developing a High Impact, Targeted CV that best represents you without compromising the truth.

How effective is your CV?

Use the assessment criteria below to rate your CV

    • Structure - Is it logical, relevant, and effectively ordered? Is there balance/clarity between the sections?
    • Style - Is the writing fluent & succinct? Is the style consistent?
    • Layout - Does it look attractive? Is it easy to read/skim? Is it a suitable length?
    • Relevance - Does the content emphasise skills and or experience needed by the job / organisation?
    • Self-awareness - Are the skills backed up with good examples and evidence that shows an understanding of the process behind the skills?
    • Persuasiveness - Would it convince an employer of your ability? Is there clear evidence to support your claims? Are all the statements positive? Does it communicate enthusiasm?
    • Mechanics - Are the sentences grammatically correct? Is spelling and punctuation correct? Is use of the personal pronoun kept to a minimum (e.g. I, me, mine)?

Scoring System:          5= excellent, 4=good, 3=satisfactory, 2=poor, 1=unsatisfactory

Overall Mark =                                 



Possible Improvements













Self Awareness










Content of the C.V.

The following is a sample of the content that could be included in a high impact CV:

 A. Personal Details
Personal details should include the following:
Contact Details – Tel. No., Fax No., E-Mail etc.
Date of Birth – if you wish to offer this information

B. Personal Profile
Your personal profile should give an insight to the type of person that you are. It is an opportunity to expressly outline some key personal characteristics that you may not get the chance to highlight anywhere else on your C.V.

C. Key Skills
This is your opportunity to expressly state the skills that you have acquired over the course of your career and your life that may be of interest to a potential employer.

D. Objectives
You should clearly state your career objectives with due consideration to the position that you are applying for.
E. Career Summary / Work Experience
Work experience should be presented in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent / current position. There should be a brief description of each company, the job title, the relevant dates and the Key Responsibilities and Result Areas. Details should be in bullet point format and each point should be made in terms of results or achievements. This will indicate that you are a “results focused” individual and that your key performance indicators are based on tangible achievements.

It is often appropriate to divide the description of each role (particularly more recent roles) into two parts…Key Duties and Responsibilities and Key Achievements

F. Key Achievements
Employers are interested in candidates who achieve results. Every employee is expected to get results and add value his/her employers company. This again is an opportunity to state expressly your achievements to date. This will also act as an important talking point at the interview stage.

G. Educational Details
Provide brief details of your educational details, starting with your highest qualification. Do not give details of individual grades in subjects.

H. Further Development
Detail any additional training / development that you have completed that may be of interest to your target audience.

I. Interests and Achievements
Your interests and personal achievements can act as an indicator to your orientation and ability in relation to people skills, interpersonal skills and teamwork etc. However, do not give too many details in relation to minor achievements that were completed in the distant past.

J. Referees
It is now commonplace to only offer referees on request.

More Practical Tips and Points to Remember...

  • The dates should be easily identifiable.
  • Your C.V. should make a High Impact and should be easy to read and digest.
  • Use the appropriate font types, font sizes, Headings and underlines, Italics etc. that make your CV attractive and easy to read. Make sure these are consistent throughout your CV.
  • Use strong headings.
  • Use bullet points - not lengthy paragraphs.
  • Your C.V. should usually be 2 - 3 pages in length (but it can be more if very necessary e.g. for senior professionals with many years of experience).
  • Ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your CV. Allow a friend or relative to “proof read” your C.V. and to check it for mistakes / errors. 
  • Use active verbs that describe your skills, abilities and achievements.  Use these verbs at the beginning of each sentence (managed, developed, created, co-ordinated, etc) to make them even more powerful.
  • Use ‘success’ language through-out your CV e.g. rather than saying: “Project managed the implementation of…”, try to incorporate success language e.g. “Successfully project managed the implementation of…”
  • Always try to provide details of your achievements, rather than simply recording tasks and duties completed.

Remember, when developing your C.V …..

Be Different – Not Unusual!