How to write a great CV

How to write a great CV

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Summary
Keep your CV short and snappy, pick the structure that best displays your skills (we outline a good structure below), always write a personal summary, make sure you mention the results of your work, and – most importantly – always ask a friend to proofread your CV!

A lot of CVs get sent through applications via Movemeon. Especially CVs from consultants and former consultants (given our membership)! Here are a few tips and tricks.

Make every word count

In the UK, your CV should ideally fit nicely onto 1 page. If it’s a real squash, go for 2, but never more than that. You’re probably past needing to write about being a school prefect or captaining the tennis team. Companies receive a huge number of applications and typically your CV will be read in less than 60 seconds. Remember, your CV is a conversation starter. It’s a tool to get you to interview, where you can share more details. It should leave the reader wanting more. If you write too much detail, you may make it more difficult to strike up interesting dialogue at interview.

Don’t structure your CV by project

If you are a consultant, writing a few lines/bullets about a selection of projects is NOT a reader-friendly format. You are thereby requiring the reader to draw their own conclusions about your key skills. Instead, try structuring your CV by key skill (‘analysis’, ‘team leadership’, ‘finance’, ‘stakeholder management’ etc) and writing a few / lines bullets to substantiate each of these – drawing from a range of projects for each skill. Put the skills in bold as mini titles. Even more, adapt the skills you list to reflect the exact skills – even the language – of the employer’s job post. That way, the reader can scan through your CV and tick all their boxes in seconds.

Write a personal summary

This is 2-3 lines at the top of the page saying “this is me, what I want to do and why that’s a perfect fit for this job”. The combination of personal summary & the bold list of skills is all the reader needs to know.
Make it easy to navigate: first impressions count, so it needs to look attractive. A “busy” CV intimidates the reader while a good, clear format is your best friend: use section titles and bullet points to divide into bite-sized chunks and avoid long passages of text. Resist the temptation to reduce the size of your margins – whoever reads your CV will want somewhere to make notes. The reader will have specific “boxes that you need to tick” so the easier you make it for them to find this information, the better.

Talk about results

Don’t just describe what you did. Your achievements – particularly at work – will seem more impressive if you get across the impact that your actions had. Use numbers where possible (e.g., generated 9% sales growth YoY, delivered £92m efficiency savings).

Don’t miss off your interests

Often what you do outside of work is what can differentiate you from another consultant/ex-consultant with similar experience. It shows you’re an active, interesting person and often provides a comfortable ice breaker at interview.

Get friends to proofread

Your CV is very personal, so you will find it impossible to be objective. Send it to a few friends and take their advice. Headhunters will often have useful tips too. It might involve a few iterations but it will get better with each one.

Never send your CV to a headhunter or recruitment agent without a DRAFT NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION watermark

You may not know this but recruitment agencies may blanket email out your CV to loads of companies without your knowledge. If they get a bite, they will then contact you and try to talk you into applying for a role. This can make you look really uncoordinated if you’ve applied for a role at the same company directly in the mean time. If a recruiter asks for a copy of your CV, say no until they provide you with an exact job description that interests you and is live. Even then, send a pdf version of your CV clearly stating exactly which role and company this CV is to be used for.

Even a great CV benefits from a cover letter

If you think a job sounds amazing, you can be sure that others like you think the same. Your application will not stand out unless you write a compelling cover letter. What’s the point in spending hours revamping your CV for it to be overlooked as your application lacks a cover letter?! For help on this, why don’t you have a look at our article about the importance of cover letters?
Good luck and don’t rush – why not put your CV into action by registering at Movemeon?

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