10 'must haves' for your CV

10 'must haves' for your CV

 11 Jan 2018

    Career advice,
We all doubt ourselves when it comes to writing our own CV and more often than not this self-doubt holds us back from writing the CV that will get you that interview for your dream job.

The motivation for this blog came from a conversation I had with a friend in London before Christmas when he messaged me asking for help with his CV and LinkedIn.  He knew he was good at what he did but after 3 months of applying he had only had 2 telephone interviews.

These are the 10 things that we changed to make the CV become the man...
  1. It must be written in 1st person…never
A CV littered with “I am’s” and “I was responsible for” isn’t inspiring and it doesn’t really demonstrate the level at which you can communicate, it all feels a little elementary.  The chances are if you are going for a job that is related to your experience the reader will understand what your day to day responsibilities are. 
If there are some unique responsibilities that you had it would be wise to mention them.  Far better to highlight the successes you have had in your career.  For my friend, he was listing what he did without really demonstrating what his results were. 
A good tip when it comes to stating your results is to realise that whilst your results may be impressive to you the reader might be operating on a different level and might see your figures as low.  If you think this applies to you, instead of stating actual numbers you can show your performance in percentages, for example you might have billed £20,000 over your target, that is great but to some companies that might not mean much, instead you can say that you exceeded your year one target by 14% or whatever it works out to be.
  1. Your Language might not be Unique
This is probably one of the most common mistakes that we see.  If I pick out 5 CV’s at random they will most likely contain the following:
  • “Team player”
  • Ambitious”
  • “Responsible”
  • “goal driven”
Whilst these are all great attributes to have, they probably won’t set you apart from everyone else that has applied for it.  My friend had all the above on his CV, how did we change this? 
If he couldn’t back up any of his statements with examples or evidence, it simply had to go.  For the statements that survived they packed more punch as they were backed up with unique achievements.
  1. Relevance
This is the one thing that you must make clear in your mind.  If you send the same CV to 10 jobs without changing anything, then you’re going to have to get lucky to get the interview. 
People are impressed by candidates that make an effort, if you have taken the time to focus your CV to meeting the requirements indicated by the recruiter or the job specification then you will drastically increase your chances.
Again, if you have the relevant experience you will need to make sure that it is obvious right from the first paragraph.  I go through the summary in greater detail later, but this should highlight how you meet their requirements and using figures to highlight experience or success is always useful.
  1. Accountability
This one combines most of the points, it is important to always back up what you are saying with examples.  As above, you don’t need to highlight every task that you do in the job, instead of wasting time and energy doing this why not focus on what you have succeeded in or been a part of.  You can be accountable by highlighting any of the following:
  • What projects you have worked on and their success
  • Did you have KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)?  If so, how did you get on?
  • How many direct reports did you have? 
  • Did your team meet their goals?
This is what sets the best CV’s apart from everyone else. 
  1. Up to date details
You would think this is straight forward, it certainly should be.  Your CV must have your contact details on it, we’re not in 1974 anymore so you probably can do without your address.  So, what should you have?
  • Name
  • Email (bunny101x@hotmail.com or ravydavy@gmail.com might not be the best 1st impression)
  • Up to date mobile number
  • Location – City or City, Country if international
  • Skype Address – the email your account is under if your name is John Smith
  • Linkedin link if your Linkedin is up to scratch
  1. .doc
Stick to a word file (.doc or .docx), your CV is easier for the scanners to check for keywords and it will be easier for your recruiter to use if they have to reformat or add your CV to a cover letter to submit.  Avoid sending a PDF if you can.  There is nothing wrong with a nice clean CV that is easy to read, and all information is readily available.
  1. Dates
There are many people that don’t put their dates of employment down for each position.  We can’t determine how much experience you have in a certain field without this. Make sure that you put the real dates in, don’t have them all overlapping as it’s another red flag. 
  1. Achievements
Everyone has had achievements in their career that they are proud of, not many are comfortable with bragging about them on their CV though.  For my friend, I knew that he had several achievements that were pretty impressive, especially in his field but he only briefly mentioned one of them but never took the credit for it. 
This needed to change.  We added an achievements section below his summary (see next point) where he highlighted some of his achievements from his career.  They weren’t just random achievements, they were all related to the position he was going for.
  1. A USEFUL summary
This is the first impression that you make to your potential new employer.  You only get one chance to make this first impression, if you utilise all the above you should be able to write a summary that demonstrates why you are right for this position, it should demonstrate your overall experience in the sector, maybe highlight some of your best KPI’s from below and mention any of the high-profile projects, companies or events that you have worked on or with. Be accountable, be proud and do it all in about 4 or 5 sentences.
  1. Its Unique and Fits with this one job and company
Now that you have done all the above, checked it over and then sent it you can redo it all again.  For every position you go for you should have a unique CV that is focussed on the requirements of that position.  It is a great habit to get into and it helps you avoid sending your CV to jobs that you don’t really want.
Stay focused and make it happen.
You might want to know how my friend got on after the above.  Well, one of the agencies that he had previously went through a couple of times with no reply has been calling him repeatedly. He has had 2 agency interviews, 3 phone interviews lined up and one face to face interview lined up for next week.  He achieved this all in a week and a half compared to three months of nothing.
You have undoubtedly put in a lot of work into your career, there is nothing wrong with shouting about it in your CV. 
Best of luck on the hunt.
(by Gordon Rennie)


I found this blog really helpful. It’s been a long time since I updated a CV and didn’t really know where to start. I will be recommending this blog to others who are looking to do the same. It’s valuable to understand what the recruiters are looking for.
Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 13:29 by Laura MacDonald
Dear Gordon, I must say this is a great article and a reference. I am sure it will help a lot of job seekers. I am keeping this text for myself. One never knows! Cheers Fernando Costa
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2018 12:20 by Fernando Costa

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