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How to write a winning CV

Everyone needs a good CV.  From Junior Marketing Assistants who are just starting out on their journey, to established Senior Marketing Directors and Heads of Marketing. So, even if you think your experience and LinkedIn profile speaks for itself, please consider the importance of a strong CV!

The CV is a summary of who you are, where you’ve worked, and it needs to convince the reader very quickly that you are worth investing more time in.

Remember, the purpose of a CV is to get you an interview, not the job.  It needs to be easy to digest and quickly match what you have to offer with what our clients are looking for.

A good CV

  • Is totally typo free and grammatically correct (if you’re a content specialist or copywriter please take particular note of this!). Check, check, and check again… proof read and ask friends and family to proof read it too. A poor CV, full of typos, will often be rejected immediately - even if you have everything that the job requires!
  • Is no more than 2 pages. Our clients are looking for your most relevant (and recent) experience, which will be your last two or three jobs (if you’re a Marketing Manager, we don’t need to know that you worked in a bar when you were 17.
  • Starts with a summary. In a nutshell; what are you, what are your strengths and what are you looking for?
  • Organises the information into manageable chunks: Summary - Experience (job by job) – Education – Interests.
  • Provides details of all relevant qualifications. No need for long lists of GCSE’s! Simply include the number of qualifications, with associated grades (e.g. 9 GCSE’s grade A-C).
  • Organises the employment section to include Key Responsibilities and Key Achievements within each job listed. Try and get some numbers/quantities/timeframes into this section, but keep succinct! If you are going for a role that requires a commercial focus, include commercial successes in numbers, e.g. helped increase x by y, provided a 50% uplift in sales over 3 months, etc.
  • Is ‘light on the eye’. Reserve bold fonts for sub-headers – avoid bold or dark fonts for main body text.
  • Sells!  If you can’t market yourself, how can a future employer expect you to market their goods or services?
  • Includes buzzwords.  For example, if you work in digital marketing, and you have a solid understanding of SEO, PPC, Social and email marketing, make sure your CV reflects this!

Common mistakes on a CV

  • The photo! First impressions count, so even if you have your best pout on, remember including a photo is high risk, not to mention against recruitment ethics.
  • A CV that is not kept current and where dates don’t add up. Check them!
  • A CV that does not match information on your LinkedIn profile. This can be checked by our clients so make sure all your dates and job titles are aligned.
  • Overly designed CVs. A simple white, portrait CV with a nice typeface and good spacing over 2 pages is perfect. CV’s on a slant, with butterflies etc., or landscape are high risk. Make life easy for your reader!
  • Obvious job hopping. If you have an employment history where you have only stayed a short amount of time in a few of your jobs, the perception will be a lack of focus or stability. If there are genuine reasons beyond your control, do add your reason for leaving, be it redundancy, company relocation, insolvency, contract only etc.
  • Irrelevant interests. Interests are good when they demonstrate attributes that are required, in the job you are applying for, but they can be off putting. Try to avoid, ‘I love my cat’, ‘I enjoy socialising with friends’, or ‘I like to spend time with my Grandma’. These may well interest you but are they helping you communicate something important to the reader? Perform a sense check and put yourself in the readers’ shoes!

by Emma