Help writing a CV – that won’t leave you cringing for years to come…


Help writing a CV – that won’t leave you cringing for years to come…I recently received an email from an online job board that I hadn’t used for many years informing me that my account would be permanently deleted if it wasn’t reactivated again soon.


It had been 8 years since I had last used the site, and after logging back in I quickly realised that I hadn’t thought my old CV through at all, I’d just thrown as many responsibilities as I could onto a document without considering tailoring it to each company that I was sending it to!


Now, looking at recruitment from the other side of the fence as a recruiter, here are my guidelines for creating a CV that won’t embarrass your future self…


Think about the job you are applying to, and not just the job you are doing.

After your name, phone and email, you need to write 3-4 very punchy lines describing your key strengths in a style that will also give a flare of your personality.


You could also include your LinkedIn profile, providing that it’s up to date and you’re using a professional profile photo. A list of key skills can also be useful, as recruiters may search for keywords within your CV.


Don’t worry too much about throwing in lots of clichés or buzz words, instead, write a paragraph that tells people about your skills.


For example:

“An accomplished chartered accountant, trained from a big 4 accountancy practise before moving into a blue-chip manufacturing business. Experience of working in a fast-paced, commercial environment, and more recently within a shared service centre. Fluent in 4 languages with excellent analytical skills.”


After a section on education and languages, you’ll have a summary section which should be divided into 3 elements: roles, industries, and competences. Often recruiters won’t carry on past this section if these don’t correspond to the brief, so it’s crucial that you clearly lay out all of the necessary information in this section.


Following sections of your CV could include:

  • Tools & technologies (if relevant for your job)
  • Career history with your title, company, and years of service highlighted in bold
  • Relevant roles or projects (I used to just list in order the jobs I had done with a description, but now I only list relevant information and tailor it to the brief)
  • A list of some responsibilities in bullet point form. These can be elaborated on at the interview stage.
  • Results and achievements.


Also, other important things to consider are:

  • Email address – ensure that this is a professional address, and not based on a previous nickname
  • Just use text – sometimes recruitment portals won’t display images, so using a logo may change the layout of your CV.
  • Formatting – ensure you use the same fonts, bold headings and bullet points.
  • PROOFREAD – ensure that you have read your CV more than once, as correct spelling and grammar is crucial. Your CV states you have strong attention to detail, yet you can’t spell ‘liaise’ correctly!


It’s important not to worry too much about the length of your CV! As long as you keep a clean, well-structured and easy to navigate layout, then having a CV that is more than two pages long won’t be a hindrance.


To discuss further, you can email me on

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

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