We know that self promotion isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and at the beginning of your career you have less of a story to tell. Every Assistant/Executive level candidate we meet ends up with CV homework… And we have our red pens at the ready!

How to shine

So if you’ve been putting off writing yours and are overwhelmed by the amount of advice online, here are six key tips to get you on your way (and a bonus tip at the end):

Tip 1: Set out your stall

  • An opening ‘profile’ paragraph acts as your product statement. What do people get if they buy you? Summarise yourself. Make it unique and strong. You could include level of qualification, industry and country experience, and what skills you have.

Tip 2: Put experience upfront

  • Already got some work experience? Then don’t put qualifications at the front of your CV. New graduates do because they don’t have anything else. If you’ve got experience, put qualifications towards the back and focus on the evidence.

Tip 3: Be clear and concise

  • Imagine a manager has 15 CVs on their desk. They’re busy and they’ve got two minutes to take an initial view. Don’t give them extra work to do. Include a brief description of each company/firm you’ve worked at (underneath the company name). You may lose out if they don’t have time to Google!

Tip 4: Stand out from the crowd

  • Key achievements are more powerful than lists of what you do. They’re evidence of how good you’ve been in your role. Think about what your objectives were and that should help you articulate your achievements. It’s all about evidence and differentiation.

Tip 5: Don’t leave gaps

  • Been on some adventures? Had some gaps in your career? Don’t hide them. Date gaps cause concern. Whether it was for travel, a country move, family issues or studying, be honest and include it. Oh and use months, not years, so people know exactly how long you were in each role or career break.

Tip 6: Be proud of who you are

  • Keen hand glider? Interested in sheep farming? Practice campanology (bell ringing to most of us!)? Interests are conversation starters and give a sense of the real you. They’re also a great attitude promoter if the interest requires significant commitment and hard work.

Oh and…

Bonus Tip: Why not keep a ‘live’ CV?

  • Rather than having to remember what you achieved two years ago, keep a note. Every time you think ‘ooh that was a great achievement’, jot it down. You’ll be very pleased with yourself when you’re ready for your next career move.

Like many people, you may feel awkward when it comes to selling yourself. But if you follow these tips, your CV can actually act as a great confidence boost – reminding you of all the skills and good experience you have acquired. Not only will a good CV secure interviews, but it will also help get you in the right mindset for interview success. And that’s when you know that your CV has indeed made all the difference.


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