How to write a great CV

Corvus job search

How to write a great CV

A sharp, well written CV is essential when starting your job search. You only get one chance to make a good first impression and your CV or cover letter is your chance to grab your next employer’s attention in a good way. Get it wrong here and you won’t get even to interview stage even if you’re potentially the best person for the job.

As professional recruiters, we see hundreds of CVs every month so we know what makes a CV stand out, not just to us but to hiring managers and HR professionals too! Here are some of our top tips for making sure your CV stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons


Presentation is everything

  • Ditch the fancy covers and title pages. Your CV needs to be succinct and all about you!
  • Don’t include a photograph unless specified at application stage.
  • Use a clean, common typeface such as Arial or Calibri and ensure it’s consistent throughout.
  • Use bold, italics, capitals and bullet points as visual indicators to make it easier for the reader’s eye to find section headings, employment details and responsibilities or achievements. Make it super easy for whoever receives your CV to quickly scan it with their eyes and establish that it’s what they’re after!
  • Don’t stick to exclusively bullet points on each job though.  It’s nice to have a short intro for each role which sets the scene and highlights what your achievements were there.
  • Always check thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors - then check again. A spell checking tool won’t always pick up errors e.g. manager could become manger!  It’s a good idea to get someone else to cast their eye over it for you too.  Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will spot something that you’ve missed.
  • Ensure correct dates for all roles and education, making sure to include months rather than just the years.
  • Ensure your contact details are on both the cover letter and CV – make sure you include a mobile number, your personal email address and ideally your LinkedIn URL.
  • A simple, traditional Word document is still the preference for most recruiters if formatted correctly. However, for some of the more creative industries employers will want to see a more innovative design.


What to include in your CV

  • A strong personal profile is essential. Make sure your strongest skills and achievements stand out and shine at the very beginning of your CV.  Make sure though before you send your CV, that you tailor this section to best reflect what the employer is actually looking for.
  • Key achievements should briefly outline your successes in previous roles/education or in your personal life. Again, you can tailor these to reflect the position you are applying for.
  • Always try to give quantifiable achievements. For example, instead of saying you implemented a change to reduce costs, include details of what the change was and what % number this initiative saved the company. Or if you work in a sales role you could say something like, “Received recognition for up-selling a range of products, resulting in a 10% increase in weekly sales.” The employer wants to know how you add value to their company, so keep your tone confident and provide relevant facts that really showcase what you’d bring to them as an employee.
  • Include any awards and recognition from your present or previous employers. For example, “Committed to going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction, resulting in being awarded Employee of the Month in November 2014 and February 2015.”
  • Try to avoid jargon and overused clichés – they’ll just end up as the equivalent of white noise.
  • Education: state all educational and training achievements in reverse chronological order.
  • The main body of the CV should focus on your employment history. Start with your most recent role and work back in reverse chronological order. The main focus here should be on what you achieved within each role, not just your duties and responsibilities.
  • Hobbies and interests is entirely optional.  If you’re just starting out in your career this may be more relevant to include as depending on what type of role you’re applying for, things like sporting achievements, voluntary work or university societies may round out your profile. If you’re just adding things like, “socialising with friends” or, “going to the cinema” it’s probably best to leave this section out as it won’t really add any value!
  • Add in referee contact details – it’s ok to state that they’re available upon request if you’d prefer not to include them at application stage.


Update Regularly

  • For each role you apply for, it is vital that you research the company. Understand the organisation and its brand and know what they are looking for in a new employee.  Tailor your CV to reflect this, so that it is noticed by the person hiring.
  • When it comes to your CV, one size doesn’t fit all. You may need to bring out different elements of your skillset for different roles. Make sure that your CV is tailored to reflect that you have all the skills listed in the job spec as well as demonstrating that you have the personal competencies required.  For example, if they are looking for someone with strong influencing skills, instead of just saying you have this skill make sure you give an example of how you’ve used this skill to deliver results.


Cover Letter

  • Outline the role you are applying for and why you feel you meet the requirements.
  • Include a brief synopsis of your skills and experience.
  • Always include your contact details.
  • Address your letter to a specific person.
  • Remember to sign and date it.


Your Corvus consultant will work with you to find out what your key strengths and achievements are after your first meeting with us and we can help you to develop a knockout CV.

Get in touch on +44 (0) 28 9091 8529 or click here to contact our specialised recruitment team today. We’d love to hear from you.