How to Write a Successful CV

By Allen Recruitment Consulting

The sole purpose of your Curriculum Vitae is to get you an interview. Once your name is on the interview short list, your CV has done its job. A CV means 'brief account of ones life or career'. Remember what you leave out of your CV is just as important as what you put in.

Your CV is the only part of the job selection process over which you have 100% control. You can control how you look on your CV.

The CV should be:

  • Error free
  • Impeccably neat
  • Easy to read

CVs should cover four areas:

  1. Contact Information
  2. This includes your name, address, date of birth, contact phone numbers (mobile, home, work) and if possible you're personal and/or work email address

  3. Education
  4. Education, like experience should be set out in reverse chronological order. List third level and secondary schooling. When listing courses you did in college or during your commercial career, list in order of relevance to the job you are applying for or in chronological order, most recent first.

  5. Career, Technical and Business Skills Summary
  6. The career summary is the most important part of your CV. It is a simple statement and summary table which encapsulates your career to date and career aspirations. It also helps you get a clear picture of your own skills and abilities in your own mind. To help you write, imagine you have only 30 words to convince someone to hire you.


    • An effective thinker and achiever, offering proven leadership and communications skills.
    • Able to communicate complex technical topics to non-technical audiences.
  7. Work Experience and Achievements
  8. This is where you list:

    • Previous Employers (plus a sentence or two which explains their business)
    • What YOU did, Why (business drivers), Where, When
    • Some indication of HOW you approached the piece of work or project including use of particular skills, technologies, methodologies, tools, etc. and an indication of your actual deliverables
    • Who you did if for
    • When you did it
    • Put this in reverse chronological order.

What you produced and your input / contribution are the most important information. In many cases your job title or the industry job name that most accurately reflected your role should convey this also, so make sure your job title stands out on the page. Note: the job title does not have to be the exact job title but does have to reflect accurately the job that you did.

Employers know that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, so emphasis your achievements. When listing them, remember that a responsibility is different from an achievement. Selling IT solutions or products is a responsibility while increasing sales of IT solutions by 22% in the first 12 months is an achievement. Rule of thumb question is: does the achievement clearly explain how I added-value to this company and does it give an indication of / quantify the value brought by my own contribution.

Looks and Content Matter:

Depending on your experience your CV can be up to 4 to 5 pages - relevant detail is vital

  • Use wide margins and plenty of white space - never clutter
  • Avoid excessive use of bolded text, bullets and underlining
  • Use a spell checker or dictionary
  • Choose positive words and use short, clear sentences
  • Use active voice - 'managed' instead of 'the management of', 'designed' not designing
  • Make sure your CV meets the requirements set out in the job advertisements

Covering Letter:

A covering letter is a requirement. It is the packaging for your CV. If your covering letter does not command attention, then why should potential employers read your CV?

Tell The Truth:

If you cannot justify every part of your CV, you will instantly lose your credibility. This does not mean that you have to confess everything; it means you have to be honest about the appropriate items you have listed.

Published with the kind permission of Allen Recruitment Consulting

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