How to write an effective CV

How to write an effective CV

How to write a CV

What Your CV is For

With lots of candidates applying for the same job, your CV is Your Sales Tool. It gets you through the first phase of the job process. It is also very important for us (if you’re looking for a Permanent Job) as it is our ammunition and gets you in front of your potential employer. Keep it simple, keep it clean, and keep it punchy and straight to the point. Don’t use jargon and don’t give a potential employer any reason to make negative assumptions about you or to not take you seriously.

The Style of your CV

Large responses to a current position advertised in the press need to somehow be filtered. Imagine if you were the person having to dredge through 100 of CVs and covering letters. Make sure that your CV is short, sharp and full of relevant facts rather than over the top descriptions of why you like going to the pub with friends. This will ensure it is not thrown on the unwanted pile. The most common format of information on a CV (and therefore the easiest for a recruiter to quickly gain relevant information about you) is as follows:

The Layout of Your CV

  • Name, contact and current status information
  • Personal Profile, Career Goal or a Personal statement, e.g. “Head Chef With Rosettes”
  • A List of your main Relevant skills
  • Education/Qualifications
  • Professional Qualifications/Membership of Professional Organisations
  • Career to date/Work Experience (Most recent first)
  • Training Courses, Other Skills and supplementary information
  • Interests/Hobbies
  • References
  • Summary

You can find some sample layouts here. If you have little experience, consider volunteering.

Name, contact and current status information

Name and contact information at the top in the order of Name, Address, Daytime telephone, Night time telephone and Date of Birth. This is the order that most recruitment agencies software ‘auto reads’ details – making it much simpler for us and other Agencies to import your details onto the recruitment database.

  • Details of driving license/own transport if applicable.
  • EU, UK or other citizen and details of current visa. (If applicable)

Personal Profile or Personal Statement

Of all the above sections, perhaps surprisingly, the Personal Statement can be the most important. This is what we consider to be the ‘make or break’ section. When employers are reviewing your CV, they will usually use this section to quickly assess your suitability.

If you should choose to write a profile – make it short and don’t use over technical words or abbreviations. The personal statement isn’t anything like the one you might have written when applying to college or university. It’s a lot shorter and more to the point, really setting out how you are perfect for the job by reference to the job requirements/advert.

A personal statement is a concise paragraph or summary, which details what you can bring to a job or company. It’s also known as an opening statement or executive summary. Sitting at the top of your CV, it’s your opportunity to really sell yourself to employers and to highlight the relevant skills and experience you possess. While effectively and succinctly convincing recruiters that you’re a good fit for the role, a personal statement gives you the chance to show off your strengths and share your career goals.


Main Skills

This is extremely relevant for roles where specific skills are imperative, such as within Science, engineering or computer programming.

Don’t be too specific with your career goal e.g. SME New Business Professional seeks a role within a dynamic expanding company” could mean that you are disregarded from an excellent Account Development role for you.


  • Detail your highest level of education first. Don’t worry about detailing your grades, unless a good grade on your degree.
  • Unless you are specifically looking for a graduate position do not waste space by writing a novel on the details of your O-Levels/GCSE’s/A-Levels/CSE’s, etc. Explain that you are a recent graduate; detail your core subjects and the title of your dissertation only.

Career History/Work Experience

  • Detail your work history with your current/last job first and go backwards. Most of this section should deal with your most recent career (5-10 years).
  • Choose your words carefully – do not waffle on about rubbish! Be factual and concise, this is your sales tool – use it to sell yourself and get you in front of the potential employer/Agency.
  • If possible use statements – these could be bullet pointed for ease of reading. The average recruiter will speed read CVs looking for relevant points and experience. Use facts and figures throughout your whole cv. This is especially important for sales jobs were “increasing turnover by 200%” would be very impressive. Some other examples could be “I was personally responsible for reducing our average bad debt. by £50,000 per year”. Whatever statements you use, never ever lie – you will be found out if asked to see evidence of these achievements at a later stage.


  • We will often probe into candidates hobbies/interests to find out about the “Real Person”. List your genuine interests/hobbies because they can sometimes be a consideration when it comes to choosing applicants. For example, an employer may specify that they want someone with a genuine interest in Music for their record shop.
  • Remember to try and include one thing you like doing by yourself, one within a team and one that uses your intelligence. Examples: swimming could translate that you like working on own, Rugby could equal a team player and reading non-fiction could equate to a willingness to learn new things.


If you do not wish to detail your references don’t even waste valuable space on ‘References: Available upon Request’. You will probably have to supply details of referees at some stage though.

Creative CVs

Generally it’s best to follow a simple, two page CV format that doesn’t use any special graphics or layouts. This is because many employers use automated software to read CVs nowadays. However, for some roles you may need to showcase your creativity as part of your job application, and may need to take a more creative approach!


Basically, why are you the person for the job? Change this for each job you go for if you’re looking at more than one job sector.

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