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Career Advice Series Part 2: Writing a Winning CV

Employers will only spend 5-7 seconds on average glancing over your CV, so it’s imperative that you impress them from the get-go. Is time to give your CV a complete overhaul? Read our top tips for ensuring you give the best possible first impression to employers...

In this week’s instalment of our Career Advice Series which will help you find and secure your dream job, we’ll take you through one of the most important things to spend your time on – your CV.  


Writing a Winning CV

Your CV is the first tool at your disposal to market yourself to prospective employers and help you get to the interview stage. It’s vital that your CV is of high quality, set out in an easy to read and logical format to help highlight your best qualities in a very limited space.

The truth is that each job receives so many applications that on average, employers only spend 5-7 seconds glancing over each of them – therefore it’s likely that at the screening stage, hiring managers will only have a cursory glance at your CV.

To help you stand out from the crowd during this process, we’ve put together a few tips on writing a stellar CV that will catch the eye of prospective employers.

Sell yourself!

People need to know what they are buying into; therefore you have to sell yourself as the best candidate for the role – otherwise why should employers hire you? Your CV is your marketing material – so it needs to be honest and effective marketing.

Your CV should list your best-selling points in an easy to read format – it’s imperative that your CV is well presented and clearly structured, with the most relevant information on the first page readily identifiable.

When writing your CV there is an obvious need to ensure a good standard of spelling, grammar and punctuation. The overall layout and format of each section should be easy to follow and interpret.


As a rule of thumb your personal details should be on the header of your CV. Your name, address, telephone number and email address are all that is needed. Having these at the top of your CV will help employers to contact you with more ease. Ensure that you always have your up to date information before sending over your CV to any company – you don’t want to miss a job interview because a potential employer was contacting you via an old email address or mobile number.


Next up should be your career history. Think about the job you are applying for and the skills and knowledge needed for the position and link this to your work history and how you have gained relevant experience to the job you’re applying to. These can be any number of professional, personal and technical attributes – listed as short bullet points and statements. Highlight your individual contribution to each role to emphasise your work ethic, initiative and achievements.


Your personal achievements are paramount to marketing your worth to prospective employers. Have a careful think about what experiences and achievements you have that are relevant to the role you’re applying to.

Keep them recent though – maybe steer away from mentioning your primary school achievements. If your employer reads you did something impressive five years ago, they might wonder why you haven’t done anything more since then.


It’s imperative to include your education and qualifications history. It’s preferable to list them from your most recent qualification back to your GCSEs. Listing the full title of your qualification and university, along with any significant exam results should suffice, although any modules or projects of particular relevance to a specific job application could be included.

Don’t forget to include your secondary school and A/AS Level subjects and grades along your GCSEs - subjects and grades.

Provide brief details of any relevant courses you have attended or completed online. You can also list other qualification such as First Aid and driving licence.


Any skills and knowledge you have outside your education and qualifications that are relevant to the role should also be included. For example, this could include a list of any IT systems you have working knowledge of, foreign languages, or any particular skill the employer may be looking for such as time-management, communication skills etc.

Hobbies and interests

Employers are always interested in learning about your interests and hobbies as they give a huge insight into who you are as a person. It should be kept short and to the point but can include any sport or extracurricular activities you take part in, whether you play an instrument for example, or anything that shows personal initiative and development.


Coming to the end of your CV it is usual to include your references – however, unless they are requested you do not need to include these. A simple “references available on request” should suffice. Employers will ask for references if and when they need them.

Design and Presentation

There isn’t a ‘perfect’ way for CVs to be structured, as CVs with certain biases will suit particular formats - the CV of a recent graduate and a professional with several years’ experience will look different due to the amount of information which needs to be on there. The main thing to keep in mind is to have a clean, tidy layout with section headers.

Different industries can also mean different CV formats and presentation - a creative role might mean you have more options on how you can present your CV and even have a little bit of fun.

Honesty is the best policy

One final point to remember is that your CV is likely to form the framework for any interview and expect to be asked to elaborate on, justify, or defend any statements made in your application. Therefore it’s important that you feel comfortable with your CV and ensure that its contents are both honest and accurate. 1 in 4 UK jobseekers lie on their CV – however with thorough vetting, employers are very savvy and can quickly uncover anything suspicious. Whether it be through interview questions, a previous job reference or social media, businesses will find out so whilst you should always aim to present information in a positive way, be careful to avoid exaggeration or any fabrication whatsoever.

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