How To Write a Successful CV

Advice from a trained recruitment manager

During my previous job I spent a lot of time recruiting. On average for our company we would have at least 120 applicants each time we advertised a position, this after they had passed an online test to submit their CV. As you can imagine we had neither the time not the man power to interview every applicant and THIS is why your Curriculum Vitae is the most important part of your arsenal.

I’ve put together a very basic guide on what to/not to include. *Please note, some points may be UK specific.

Personal Details

I’m going to assume you all know to head a CV with your full name, home address, email address and telephone number. You don’t have to mention date of birth and I advise you not to, let the employer work it out when they meet you face to face.

After the usual contact details always open with a personal statement, one small paragraph is enough. Employers are going to look for coherence in the writing and skip through to key words. This isn’t the space for a life story, it’s a short insight to your work ethic and personality.

Don’t tell any lies, an employer might see through them at your interview.
For those who feel uncomfortable praising yourself on paper, look at how your qualities can fit their business needs. For example;
You’re not bossy, you’re confident.
The anxious among us tend to worry about every little thing, I’d call that detail orientated or analytical. Are you loud or jittery? I think you mean fast-paced and passionate! Do you prefer to be left to work alone? Then you’re self motivated. If you need others to help drive you then say ‘works well in a team’. There’s a business spin on every aspect of your personality, you just need to frame it that way.


Start from the most recent and work backwards.
For school/college qualifications try not to leave a long list, sadly most of them might be irrelevant. English, Maths and ICT are core along with any you have that are specific to the job you are applying for.

For example, in school I obtained 14 GCSE’s but nobody cares about my A grade in Music! So I say this;
English A, Maths B, ICT Distinction and 11 other high grade GCSEs.

In college your grade doesn’t matter so much as long as you passed, so I say; A Levels obtained in English, Business, Citizenship and Media.
If the employer wants to know more they can ask at interview. You’re trying to limit your CV to a maximum of one double sided A4 page.

As a university drop-out I can’t give an example for my unfinished degree! But I’m sure you got the gist.


Use a two line description to summarise each job you’ve held and bullet point the key responsibilities/ tasks beneath it. You don’t need to mention every single thing you’ve done, leave yourself something to cover during the interview.
My rule of thumb here is to include either your previous THREE jobs, or previous THREE years experience, whichever comes first.
If you’ve held several jobs within the past year you won’t seem as reliable to an employer. Temporary contracts or re-locations are fine, but too much jumping around without cause could make you seem unreliable or hard to please.
You do not need to explain any breaks in your employment, especially if they concern health, but you may be asked at interview so prepare your answer. The same applies to reasons for leaving previous employment.

Interests/ Hobbies

These are so much more important than you realise. Sometimes your hobbies can say things about you that your work experience might not.
Please don’t put socialising. That doesn’t tell an employer anything about you.
Are you creative? Blogging, writing, crafting, cooking, photography, music, any kind of hobby that results in product is always worth mentioning- this shows dedication, motivation, focus and drive.
In fact, according to my boss, the knowledge that I run a blog swayed them into hiring me so DEFINITELY mention yours.
Do you holiday abroad? Say you enjoy travelling, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been away recently as long as you could talk about places you have been before.
Do you play a sport or belong to any sort of club? Always talk about that, it shows good communication and teamwork. Volunteer work or fund raising is obviously a huge YES.
And again, anything relevant to the position you’re applying for, especially in retail or entertainment sectors.


Now for the bonus content! Short, simple bullet points.

If you have no dependants (children, care responsibilities) then say so. Note- you don’t and shouldn’t express if you do, that’s not their business and they cannot ask. But, mentioning if you don’t will show them you are fully flexible.

Always mention if you have a full and current driving license.
If not I suggest adding a note e.g- NB I do not hold a driving license but am willing to commute via public transport. This will save you valuable time or lost hopes when recruiters contact you with opportunities.

To 90’s kids and younger it seems natural to assume everyone is able with a computer. This is not the case.
Windows is still the most popular operating system in business so I’ve always simply stated ‘Adept with Microsoft Office’ in my closing bullet points.
I’m mediocre at best, those of you who can work a basic spreadsheet, make a presentation slide, send an email and write a letter are safe to make this claim.

Take a first aid course if your current workplace offers it. First Aid cover is a legal requirement for all employers and can be a ball ache to maintain. Having this service to offer could be a useful extra tick in your box.

Always end a CV with
‘References available at request’
Have the full contact details of at least two references to hand when attending an interview, include your most recent place of employment if possible, and note that email addresses are often preferred.

One last note. Pay attention to your font! NEVER EVER use Comic Sans MS in a business communication. Pick something generic and professional, the standard choices include Arial, Calibri, Tahoma or Times New Roman. NOW SPELLCHECK IT!! I once had a CV from ‘Miss Stpehanie X’ – If you can’t even write your own name how am I supposed to hire you?

That’s it!
Now you’re ready to start the search.
If you found my tips useful stick with me while I cover the next steps..

How To- Prepare For An Interview

How To- Dress For A Successful Interview

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

One thought on “How To Write a Successful CV”

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