How to write a winning CV

A CV is your personal marketing document, designed to ‘sell’ your skills and abilities to a potential employer. Research suggests that readers scan CVs within about 20 seconds, so it’s important to show them at a glance why you are the best fit. To write a winning CV, ensure it is:

Matched to the job description

Make the reader’s job easy by showing a clear match between your skills and the job requirements. Clearly demonstrate how you meet the key skills, experience and attributes the employer is looking for. Emphasise your most relevant strengths and eliminate details that are unrelated to the position. Use similar key words in your CV to those used in the job description to create a link in the mind of the reader.

Focused on achievements

Highlighting key responsibilities is important, but don’t list your daily workload. Your CV should focus on the unique accomplishments that make you stand out. Show how you contributed to the organisation; did you save money or time, exceed targets, solve problems, improve processes, or attract new customers? Where possible, quantify how you added value with numbers, percentages or amounts.

Compelling reading

The tone of your CV should be enthusiastic, upbeat and professional. Put your strongest and most relevant points first, using action words such as ‘completed’, ‘developed’ and ‘managed’, and superlatives such as ‘completing’, ‘developing’ and ‘managing’,. Presenting your accomplishments honestly but confidently using high impact words will help them stand out and make your CV more compelling.

Structured correctly

Place your contact details at the top of your CV. Include your name, address, phone number, mobile number and email address. Next, list the relevant education and training that you have undertaken, starting with your most recent studies. After this comes your career history in reverse chronological order. List your job title, name of the employer, a short description of the company (if appropriate), and the dates you worked there. Then outline your key responsibilities, skills and accomplishments for each role. End your CV by naming your referees, or stating that they are available on request.

Formatted appropriately

Keep the layout of your CV simple with lots of white space, bulleted information and a plain, readable font. Two pages are usually sufficient, so choose clear, concise language. It’s a good idea to have it proofread by a family member or a friend.