How to write a winning CV

Marine People

Pretty much all of us have a CV that we have written in the past, you may even have recently written your CV, potentially thinking about your next role, but is it representing the absolute best of you? Do you really know how to write a winning CV?

How can you condense years of experience in to a 2-3 page document? How can you pull out the key relevant information for the job that you are applying for? How can you stand apart from the competition? You have all of the right experience for the job, but who is reading your CV? It may or may not be someone who understands it- so sometimes, as annoying as it is, you need to highlight your suitability for a job.  You can’t rely that the decision makers will read between the lines!

The purpose of this blog is tell you how to write a winning CV; sharing some of our experience from 15 years in the employment market, including feedback directly from hiring managers in what they look for in a good CV.

1.       Layout

There are lots of ways that you can format a CV.  Our advice is to stick to a basic template design which is easy to read and runs in reverse chronological order.  You may want to stand out from the crowd, but often it results in a difficult to decipher CV, or a CV that doesn’t format correctly when you open it from different devices.  The way to differentiate yourself is in the content.  Keep the layout clean and professional. It’s also important to add a profile, and tailor this to the job.  This serves as a quick snapshot which the reader will use to decide whether they continue reading the CV.  Like in person, assumptions, rightly or wrongly, are made in a matter of seconds.  We also really like a key skills section (again tailored to the role), this instantly confirms your suitability for the role that you are applying for.

2.       Buzzwords

We can’t stress enough the importance of buzzwords.  As the recruitment world has become more automated, your CV will go through several processes before it reaches the desk of a hiring manager.  It is likely to be read and deciphered by people who may or may not have detailed technical knowledge of the role, requiring them to match your CV to the job role to determine your suitability.  Pick out the relevant buzzwords from the job profile and include them on your CV.  Adding them in to your profile is also a fantastic way to quickly showcase your suitability and ensure that the reader keeps reading.

3.       Experience

Add your experience in reverse chronological order.  This is important as people are most interested in your recent experience.  If you have lots of experience created over many years, be selective with what you include and make sure it is relevant to the role that you are applying for.  Remember a CV should be a maximum of 3 pages, so if you can’t fit everything in, make sure that the relevant skills and experience are included.

4.       Soft skills

Including soft skills is so important and a great way to differentiate your CV.  Most interviews are competency based which looks for certain behaviours.  Include these in your CV such as team working, leadership, communication, commercial success and problem resolution.  This is important when applying for senior or leadership roles, but actually should play a big part in everyone’s CV.

5.       Interests

A lot of people don’t realise the importance of interests on a CV.  Hiring managers are really interested in what you do outside of work, try to decipher a bit about your character, and how well you would fit in to a team.  I know of many hiring managers who read the interests section first! A fitting example is for engineering or technical roles, hiring managers want to know that you are interested in engineering or technical projects outside of work, it helps them to understand that your chosen career is a real passion which sets you apart from other applicants.

6.    Proof Read

Having spent so much time and effort on your CV, check, check and check again that all spelling and grammar is correct.  Suitable applicants often get rejected due to a lack of care in checking their CV.  Check dates for overlaps and make sure that your contact details are correct.  Also make sure that your experience is up to date and matches your social media.  Potential hirers will cross reference against LinkedIn.  Make sure you are presenting the best version of yourself across all channels.

 We hope that our top tips have been useful in explains how to write a winning CV.  Good luck with that new job!!