How to Create a CV: Your Comprehensive Guide

Crafting the perfect CV is an art. Given that it’s often the first impression an employer gets of you, its importance can’t be overstated. If you’ve ever pondered over how to create a CV that stands out and tells your professional story effectively, this guide is for you.

What is a CV?

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is a detailed document highlighting your professional and academic history. Typically used for job applications, a CV provides recruiters with an overview of your experience, qualifications, and skills. Essentially, it’s your professional biography.

The Evolution of CVs Over Time

Over the decades, the style and content of CVs have undergone considerable changes. Originally, CVs were straightforward, text-heavy documents. With advancements in technology and changing job market demands, they’ve evolved into more dynamic documents, often with elements of graphic design, links to online portfolios, or even personal websites.

What Should Your CV Focus On?

A modern CV should centre on your:

  1. Skills: Highlight the skills that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  2. Experience: Detail your professional journey, focusing on achievements rather than just roles.
  3. Qualifications: Showcase your academic and professional qualifications that make you suitable for the role.

Best Practices to Create a CV

  1. Be Concise: Ensure your CV is clear and to the point. Two pages are usually the recommended length.
  2. Tailor Your CV: Adapt your CV to match the requirements of each job you apply for.
  3. Use Action Words: Words like ‘achieved’, ‘managed’, and ‘designed’ can make your CV more dynamic.

Choosing the Right CV Format

The format you choose can play a vital role. The most popular formats include:

  1. Chronological: Lists your work history in order, starting with the most recent.
  2. Functional: Focuses on skills and qualifications rather than work history.
  3. Combination: A blend of both chronological and functional formats.

Making Your CV Stand Out

  1. Personal Profile: Begin with a compelling personal profile that summarises your key attributes.
  2. Achievements: Highlight notable professional achievements.
  3. Design: Use a clean layout, readable fonts, and consider using subtle colours.

Understanding ATS Systems

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is software used by companies to sift through thousands of CVs to identify suitable candidates. To ensure your CV is ATS-friendly:

  1. Use Keywords: Incorporate keywords from the job description.
  2. Avoid Graphics: Many ATS systems can’t read images or graphics.
  3. Use a Standard Format: Stick to Word or PDF formats.

Common CV Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Spelling and Grammar Errors: These can make you seem careless or unprofessional.
  2. Being Vague: Be specific about your achievements and roles.
  3. Including Irrelevant Information: Your CV should be tailored to the role you’re applying for.

The Importance of Proofreading when you Create a CV

Always have someone else proofread your CV. A fresh pair of eyes can catch errors you might have missed and offer invaluable feedback.

The Debate: Are Cover Letters Extinct?

While the importance of cover letters has diminished in some sectors, many employers still value them. A well-crafted cover letter can provide context to your CV and further highlight your suitability for a role.

To Include or Not: Photo, DOB, and Address

Traditionally, CVs included personal details like photos, DOB, and addresses. However, modern best practices advise against this due to equality and discrimination laws. Unless specified, it’s best to omit these details.


Crafting an effective CV is a nuanced process. By understanding its evolution, focusing on the right aspects, ensuring ATS compatibility, and avoiding common pitfalls, you can create a CV that truly resonates with potential employers. Remember, your CV isn’t just a document; it’s a reflection of your professional self.


At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

How to stand out from the crowd with a commercial and impactful CV

So, how do you stand out from the crowd with a commercial and impactful CV? Given there are over 400 applicants to each job advertised, I wanted to rehash one of my old blogs to give some updated tips…

There are lots of differing opinions out there on how to write a CV. It’s up to you to make your own mind up on what works for the role you are applying for – but the thing is, you need to have impact and quickly.

Writing a killer CV is all about selling your experience better than everyone else who sits in that pile on the recruiter or hiring managers desk! How do you expect to differentiate between yourself and all the other applicants who have all likely done a similar role to you?

The past 5 years of experience are typically the most relevant, this is the experience that employers will want to discuss and should form the bulk of the CV:

Focus on outcomes rather than inputs

Every project manager manages key stakeholders, but a great project manager influences them to ensure delivery of the project on time and within budget.

Great people make a difference in their role

Yes, businesses hire people to do a job, but what gives you the edge? Having an impactful CV is important. Think through what have you done in past roles that has added value? Use business metrics to quantify the impact and to demonstrate your commercial understanding.

Tailor your CV for the role

Make sure you have read the job description for the role you’re applying for and highlight relevant areas of your experience that match this (yes this is basic stuff, but it often gets missed). You can do this in a cover letter (I don’t think many people read them these days) so my advice is to ensure you put it in the CV (it is okay to have more than one CV that focuses on different aspects of your experience).

Get someone senior to critique your CV

Before you send it anywhere, get someone more senior than you to read your CV, would they hire you based upon it? Make sure you allow them to be critical. If not, why not? What’s missing?

A CV is not a job description

Don’t just copy and paste it in there, people can tell!

Do not write recruitment clichés

No one likes cliches so leave them out of your personal statement i.e. team player/can multitask.

Be conscious of the length of your CV

2 pages is a myth but any longer than 4 pages is a bit much… if you’ve only been working for a few years it doesn’t need to be very long (remember less is often more) and if you’re an interim with multiple contracts or have a long career history – limit yourself to the past 5 years (and summarise the rest in one-liners).

Finally, get yourself out there

There is no point writing a killer CV if no one’s going to see it. A lot of the best jobs on the market aren’t advertised, ensure you are tapping up your network and people you ahev worked with previously (LinkedIn) is an awesome non-intrusive tool for this)

To discuss further or to get help with your impactful CV you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

How to lose friends and alienate people…

How to lose candidates and alienate people
How to lose candidates and alienate people

We are in the 21st Century and candidates SHOULD be at the centre of what we do. Let’s be real for a moment. Candidates are key to our success – they are the one thing that stands between success and failure as a recruiter.

But I would be bold and say 40% of recruiters treat their candidates like shit. Treating a candidate badly can destroy the reputation of you/your business. Any press isn’t always good press and trust me candidates talk. And they talk even more when they have had a bad experience.


So, here’s what not to do:

1.   Sell them the dream…

I get it…recruitment marketing is a hot topic right now, everyone is getting training on how to write engaging job adverts, how to be witty and get candidates attention etc. That doesn’t mean you have a to be a billy bullshitter. Don’t sell the candidate the dream – unless of course, the job is Chief wine taster at an exclusive hotel in the Bahamas – because who would turn that down?

Anyway, my point is, be honest with a candidate when talking about a role. Yes, tell them all the good things about the role, but tell them all the bad things too! Talk them through the client’s challenges and shortcomings.

Jobs aren’t all about flexible working and table tennis tournaments, sometimes companies are in a bad situation, don’t have the best brand etc. and that’s ok, in fact, some people like that about a job!


2.   Force a candidate into a role they aren’t sure on

Picture this. After hours of searching on LinkedIn and your job boards, you come across the holy grail of candidates. Your purple squirrel, glittery unicorn, whatever you want to call them. They are the perfect candidate for your role.

You pick up the phone, excited to tell your candidate about their dream job. But to your shock, they aren’t keen.

Newsflash. Just because they are perfect for the role, doesn’t mean the role is perfect for them. Respect their decision.

Don’t try and push them into going for an interview. Don’t even push them to apply if they aren’t keen. You look desperate and pushy.

You risk them being offered the job and turning it down, or worse, you risk them leaving in that elusive rebate period. You also risk them thinking you are a bit of an idiot and that you only care about your fee.


3.   Drag your candidate into an ownership war with another agency

It is the most frustrating thing in the world when you spend time qualifying, meeting and briefing a candidate on a role, send them over to your client…only to get the dreaded email response.

‘ We have already received this CV from Cowboy Recruitment, sorry’.

The candidate has not been spoken to by Cowboy Recruitment about the role (they claim!) so doesn’t know how her CV is already in the process.

There are two ways of dealing with this:

–       Politely step away from the situation and allow the candidate decide how they wish to proceed in the process.

–       Demand that the candidate calls the other recruiter immediately and tell them how terrible they are, whilst simultaneously emailing you to confirm that you have the right to represent them on the role.

I advise the first. Step away and allow the candidate to decide how they process. Naturally, there is some subtle influence you can have on this, but doing the second option makes you look like a petulant teenager.

Candidates also don’t need the reminder that they are simply just a fee to you – it makes you look greedy. Show them you are supportive and have their best interest at heart.


4.   Call your candidate in the morning on the day they are due to start their new job and then every day for the next 3 months

Your candidate isn’t an 18-year-old teenager who may or may not turn up to work, depending on how pissed they were the night before (apologies to any sober, reliable 18-year-olds).

You don’t need to ring them the day they start their job. A simple call the afternoon before, to check they have everything they need or the following day will suffice.

Candidates are intuitive, they will sense that the fact you are calling them every day means they are a flight risk. Also, their first few weeks are really full on. Give them some space and allow them to settle in, then check in with them.


5.   If your candidate doesn’t get offered the job….ignore them

In my opinion, this is the worst possible thing you could do to a candidate and it is the most damaging thing for your reputation.

Nobody really likes to tell a candidate they didn’t get the job…but it is not acceptable to ghost them. Other unacceptable ways of delivering feedback include emailing, leaving a voicemail, or getting your resourcer to give the feedback instead.

Don’t be a terrible human being. Your candidate has worked hard for you, they have understood the brief, done their research, spent 2-3 hours of their time with your client to represent you to the best of their ability. The least they deserve is some honest feedback.


6.   Give vague feedback

Almost as crappy as giving no feedback, is giving vague feedback. If you are giving feedback on your opinion to a candidate, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.

Think their CV needs some work? Tell them.

Don’t think they interview well? Tell them.

They don’t have the right skills for the role? Tell them.

You get the gist.

A separate challenge is when a client gives vague feedback about a candidate. It is ok to push back on your client and ask for further detail or examples of what the candidate did.

Feedback should be constructive. Tell them what they did well, where they fell down and how they could improve.

Candidates may not always agree with the feedback, but they will be appreciative of the feedback nonetheless.


7.   Only communicate by email

If you are afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a candidate, you are in the wrong job. Pick up the phone and speak to them, what is the worst that could happen? It takes as much time and effort to speak to someone on the phone as it does to type out that email.

Contacting people exclusively by email is impersonal, impractical and to be totally honest, just bloody lazy! I don’t care if your candidate isn’t based in the UK and there is a time difference, or if they are travelling, or you are ‘super busy’…pick up the phone!!

Now I’m sure some of you are reading this, thinking it all seems pretty obvious. I’m also sure a lot of you reading this are guilty of doing one of the above things.

We are all guilty of letting standards slip from time to time, but let’s do our best not to become one of the clichés in those recruitment bashing posts we see on Linkedin!



For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on


You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Shared Services, want to attract the best talent to join your business?

Shared services
Credit: The Office, NBC

I recently published an eBook called “Why Top Performing Shared Services Talent Won’t Join Your Business & What To Do About It”. In this eBook, I explain why it is that big reputable brands (which have world-class shared services centres) still find it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent. Even though these brands may believe that “everyone loves our brand and it’s a nice place to work…” this isn’t necessarily the truth.

Is that the message you are giving off to a passive candidate market?

With over 75% of shared services professionals passively looking (and not actively seeking) a new role, then it’s no wonder that it’s difficult to attract and retain the best talent!

Delivering the right message to shared services professionals

Candidates are being increasingly selective over their future employer, and considering that Monarch Airlines, Carillion, Toys R us, House of Fraser, and Maplin (just to name a few!) have gone into administration during the past year, why would you want to leave your cushy job where you’ve worked for years, and where Betty knows how to make the perfect cup of tea, for somewhere that isn’t as secure and may be at risk of joining all of the companies mentioned in the previous sentence?

It’s important that shared services give off the right message, follow the right process and keep up with their competitors when it comes to recruiting.

The most desired Shared Services assignments in the past 12 months that I’ve managed have been within newly created roles. But why is this?

Is it because there isn’t an expectation there, or because they feel the company are performing well by creating these new roles?

Newly created positions offer a chance for candidates to put their stamp on a role and make it their own. As these positions are created due to demand for a certain skillset within a business, they also provide candidates with a sense of feeling wanted and allows them to see these roles as a challenge and the chance to pursue something new.

It’s all about how you deliver the message, and how this message is perceived by your potential future employees!

So the big question is, how do you excite people to work for your shared service centre if the role is replacing someone who lacked motivation, was bored and didn’t enjoy coming into work….

It’s all in your message.

How you get this right in your Shared Services team!

And I have just the thing that can help you with this… In my free eBook, I examine the steps you can take to stay ahead in the field.

If you would like your free copy, email me at

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here

How do you tailor your CV to a job?

Tailoring your CV

Job hunting can sometimes feel like an odious long-winded task. Everything is questioned, from how you dress at an interview, to why there is a gap on your CV, to why you may have decided to go to university to study Zoology, but are now looking to focus on a career in marketing. Before the stage of being questioned is reached, however, it is always good practice to alter your CV to suit the job role that you’re applying for, as it outlines your passion for the role. But how do you do this efficiently?

1. Is it unique?
To ensure your CV and cover letter is unique for each role you apply for, it is a good idea to have a master copy that you then use as a starting point for each role. If you are applying for two different industries, then have one master copy for each. Alter the order of your sections to suit the role, it allows the recruiter to scan the CV to see that you do have all they are looking for quickly. If you are applying for a role that requires a university degree, then give this section priority and put it towards the top.

2. What words are you using?
Think about the words, especially the adjectives, which are used within the job specification and mirror them in your skills section in your CV. Put it in a different order to ensure it is not too obvious. Try to use some technical jargon that is relevant to the sector you are working for, for example, if you are applying for an HR role, ‘blue-sky thinking’ may be beneficial to use. Using these words envisages experience, as well as understanding of the sector. Also, try to not overload the CV with jargon or “fancy” words, it can cancel out your understanding and can look a little desperate.

3. Have you carried out a search?
Have a look online for job adverts that are similar to the role you applying to, so you can ensure you have an in-depth understanding of what is required in the position you are applying for.

4. Done any research?
Do a little research into the organisation you are applying for. Find out about their reputation and how they present their culture. This would be beneficial when looking at the ‘interests’ section of your CV. If the company has a ‘work hard and play hard’ culture then there would be no qualms in talking about your social interests. Whereas, if the organisation is one that concentrates on remaining professional at all times, you would then only include a select few of your interests that would suit.

5. Be Positive
Try to not be negative in your CV, it can show that you are lacking self-belief or confidence. We all have something we are working on or want to improve, turn that into a positive on your CV. For example, a job seeker may have basic spoken communication skills when applying for a HR Officer role. It can be stated that the job seeker has a basic set of spoken communication skills but with the passion to learn more.

If you think this role is perfect for you, this will show in your CV and cover letter, so ensure you apply for roles that work for you. As well as making sure your CV is concise, intriguing and interesting, the pointers above should help you to get you that dream job or least get you into the right direction. Make sure no exceptions are made, you never know when luck will strike. Good luck jobseekers!

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.