How to write a good CV

Firstly, ask yourself why are you writing a CV?

There should only be one answer – you want to send it to a company to get an interview for a job – keep that in mind the whole time you are writing your CV.

You should not just produce one CV, you need to adapt it for every role you apply to, pulling out and highlighting your key experience relevant to that specific role and sector.

It is incredibly important you spend time reviewing the Job Description (JD) for the role you are applying to. If it suits your experience or is an aspirational role that will build on your experience great, but if you don’t have the basic skills the company is looking for don’t waste your time, or theirs. You should be able to highlight relevant skills and experience, but do not worry if there are some obvious ‘growth’ areas. Some growth room is often appealing.

Your CV is a sales document – it needs to sell YOU and why you are perfect for the job. Some key tips –

  • Ensure the CV is clear and easy to read – do not make it hard for the recruiter to find your relevant experience.
  • Respect the power of the ‘first third’. Have you heard the phrase “eye line, is buy line” in retail? It is the same in a CV – the first third is the bit that shows up on screens. It needs to highlight everything relevant to the role you are applying to – the first third of page one must sell you and want the reader to read on.
  • A profile at the beginning works, if it is succinct and summarises your experience and qualifications relevant to the role you are applying to. This should be the area that changes the most per application.
  • Include key words that are included in the JD and give examples of where you have added value – often recruiters scan your CV looking for key words relevant to the role before actually reading it. Increasingly so, companies are using software to score your CV relevance before a recruiter/hiring manager even look at it by scanning for key words – in some cases automatically rejected candidates with a low match score.
  • List previous experience in chronological order, most recent first
  • Do not assume the recruiter knows what your previous role involved or what the company does or their sector, they may not be a specialist in your area, so ensure key words and detail of your experience are clear. Document the size and scope of your role – how many reports, customer population size, regional responsibility or one site, matrixed etc.
  • Be detailed and specific about your career achievements and the level of your involvement. For example,
    • What value/ ROI/ measurable results have your initiatives brought to your organisation?
    • Have you led or supported in a disciplinary process?
    • Do you have budgetary responsibility? If so, how much?
    • Have you designed, implemented or supported a L&D programme?
    • Have you implemented a new policy e.g. attendance policy, if so by what % has this improved absenteeism?
    • What have you done to ensure the HR function has improved the company culture?
      **these are all examples; the list is limitless
  • After your work experience list education and qualifications in chronological order, most recent/relevant first. There is no need to include grades for every exam you’ve taken, summarise e.g. 8 GCSEs grade C and above.
  • If you have work related referees add their contact details, this shows confidence in your knowledge of their positive feedback. Do not include your current company. Obviously, ask for their permission to use them as a reference.
  • Hobbies – some people like them on a CV, some don’t – personally I do, it shows a personal side and is a good opening conversation to break the ice in your interview. Up to your own discretion.


  • Generic phrases – e.g. I’m a good team player
  • Don’t lie or embellish your experience – you’ll be found out at interview stage.
  • Company specific jargon
  • Leaving gaps – if you had time out with children / went travelling, include it.
  • Using tables and graphics as they don’t always format properly when sent over email.

You may not be a salesperson, but you need to sell yourself in your CV.

Alternatively, you can leave it to people like us who will ensure your application is well represented and greatly increase your chance of securing those interviews

Good luck!

If you are a HR professional and would like further support with CV writing, email and we will help you to get your CV up to scratch.