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And, what to include on your CV

When you’ve worked for the same employer for a number of years it’s fairly common not to have a CV.  If you’ve worked in the public sectors it’s highly likely you’ve only over had to complete application forms.  So, when you start to consider alternative jobs or change sectors you need to write a CV from scratch.  

Long gone are the days of the “job for life” in the UK.  Research shows that employees change jobs anything from 7 to 15 times throughout their careers. Most people like to have a solid employment history or at least remain in the same job for a couple of years.  Staying in the same job for a few years shows commitment and loyalty and employers still like those qualities.

However, a lot can still happen in the labour market in a couple of years.  It’s surprising how even little changes can mean your job search and CV are out of date, dull or just doesn’t stand out from the crowd. We’ve pulled together some points that are being discussed by the recruitment professionals out there at the moment.  These points are well worth considering if you’re back on the job market for the first time in a while.

What to include on your CV

When you are looking at a blank piece of paper it’s often less than easy to know where to start.  Personally, it’s a good idea to get the structure down initally and then fill in the content.

Contact Information:  Today the only contact information you need to include on your CV is your name, mobile phone number and email address.  There’s no need to includre all of your address.  If it’s relevant to the nature of the job just include the town and county.

Profile or introduction:  It’s best practise to first give the reader an idea of who you are (characteristics and values) and some highlights of what you bring to the job (qualifications, skills, experience and knowledge).  This introduction is just a summary and probably between 5 to 7 sentences.

Key skills:  Again, this is expanding on what you may have mentioned in the introductory statement (the profile) and adding just a little more detail to let the reader know how you have implemented the skills and knowledge you have.

Career history:  This may sound obvious however, there are a few suggestions to keep in mind.  The most recent or relevant job or position should have the most detail.  Any job over 10 years ago doesn’t need lots of detail.  A job 10 or more years ago can just be one or two sentences.  Don’t leave any unexplained gaps between employment history.  If you have been with the same employer for many years, it’s advisable to add a couple of promotions.  Otherwise, it looks like you’ve had the same job for many years.

Education and Qualifications:  Include your education in reverse chronological order.  Meaning, the most recent qualification at the top of the list.  For example, PhD, Degree, Diploma, Certificate, A Levels, GCSEs.

Training Certificates and Professional Memberships:  Include relevant training certificates and memberships.  If you have changed sectors and have lots of in-house training to add, just be mindful to only include training that is relevant or transferable.

Hobbies and interests:  This is a personal choice to include hobbies and interests.  Some hiring managers like to know the person they are hiring and others are more interested in the skills and experience.  Be mindful to include hobbies that enhance your credibility to the job.

Create a Personal Brand

Most people know the importance of using LinkedIn in their job search.  Today having an up to date LinkedIn profile goes hand in hand with your CV. With the advancement in technology, it’s not only easier to find someone’s professional profile but they have easy access to a candidate’s personal life too.

PC Friendly CV

It’s now better to save your word document as a PDF file.  Once you’ve converted the word document to a PDF version it will maintain its original format, unlike some word versions that distort the look.  

Technology capability

There’s an assumption that everyone knows how to use systems these days. However, there are still lots of candidates that will fall short of the technological requirements of a job. Therefore, it’s important to include your specific IT and systems skills and knowledge as this could give you a very real advantage in the screening process.  I’ve seen absolutely thousands of CVs and most will say, IT literate.  It’s a bit vague when you want to understand the capability of an individual. 

For example, if you use Excel, explain how you use this application.  V-Look ups, H-Look ups, Pivot Tables, Pie charts, able to manipulate volumes of data and collate information.  See, it’s not obvious! 

Include your achievements

Today it’s important to list your achievements and accomplishments on your CV, however, there’s a slight change in the way these achievements are presented. A more effective way of writing an achievement is to put the result at the beginning of the sentence:

  • The costs saved, the percentage of additional revenue generated or how much time was saved by automating a process.

Then follow the result with a brief and concise description of how you achieved it.  For example:

  • “Reduced the cost of stationery by 30% by sourcing a new supplier, educating the business on waste reduction methods and introducing a company-wide Waste Reduction & Recycling policy”.

Soft Skills

If you are going to list your softer skills ensure you back up the generic statements with how you have applied this particular skill. For example, don’t just put “Excellent Communicator”.  Instead, consider this example:

  • “Responsible for all communication to senior managers relating to financial management information to facilitate strategic decision making.”

Be honest

Another point that should go without saying but unfortunately the percentage of candidate’s that lie or exaggerate on their CVs is still surprisingly high. Screening methods, selection techniques, interview processes and background checks are getting more and more sophisticated and candidates who cannot back up the information they claim on their CVs or application forms will be caught out at some point.

Professional Format

The style and format of a CV is going to be very different between sectors and industries.  Some industries don’t use CVs – they only use application forms to ensure a consistency of information gathered. Some industries don’t use either CVs or application forms it is still word of mouth – the construction industry for example.  Be mindful and do some research about the style that’s right and current in your sector.


It still remains really important for you to double check your spelling and grammar. Remember it’s so much easier to spot someone else’s spelling mistakes than the one’s you’ve made yourself!!  So be aware hiring managers and recruiters will notice these errors at a glance.

CIPD shared a great example recently of a candidate missing just one comma in a sentence describing his interests “Cooking dogs and interesting people”.  Oops!!

It has been said before that relying on MS Word to check for mistakes is not a full-proof way of ensuring it’s accurate, so take the time to double check.

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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