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How To Rewrite Your CV

Your Questions Answered By Our Experts

Leigh Gillatt  •  Careers Advice

How To Rewrite Your CV


Now more than ever it is important you have a CV that gets you noticed and secures your move to the next stage in the recruitment process – the interview! Research suggests that most people looking for their next career move are not confident about writing and submitting their CV for a new job.

With that in mind here are our top tips to help you review and rewrite your CV to make sure it showcases your skills and experience in a clear and simple way!

What Basics Need To Be On A CV?

The first thing to check are the basics. Despite how obvious some of them are, here are the basic all CV’s should include:

  • Up to date contact information
  • A personal statement or summary
  • Employment History – including relevant skills and achievements
  • Education & Qualifications

Some of the information we see included on a CV that we would recommend NOT including would be a photograph of yourself, your date of birth, your marital status or referee details.

What Should I Consider Leaving Off Of My CV?

Your CV should include only the most essential and relevant information about yourself in a concise way, so avoid things like giving it a title such as "CV" or "curriculum vitae".

Treat your name and contact details as the title and put it clearly at the top of the page.

Remove any interests and hobbies section you may have included in your previous CV if you haven't got anything in the section that is relevant to the job that you're currently applying for.

No offence, but a recruiter doesn't care about what mountains you’ve climbed unless you're applying to be a mountain guide.

The same goes for including part-time jobs that are no longer relevant to the position that you're applying for.

For example, if you're applying to work in an admin job in 2020, there's no need to talk about that summer job you had in 2002 when you worked in a garden centre cafe.

What Format Should A CV Be In?

Your CV needs to be easy to read and so a clean, simple style is considered best practice. Don’t be tempted to use fancy fonts. Calibri, Tahoma or Arial are our top 3 choices, but whilst you’re at it make sure the font size isn’t too small, remember the easy to read bit! Unless you are applying for a creative role where your creative-design flair needs to be showcased on your CV don’t add colours or logos. Stick to black on white and create your CV in MS Word to ensure it looks good when being viewed on all types of operating system and software.

To ensure you’re increasing your changes of getting to the next stages of the recruitment process, make sure that your CV has the ability to grab the attention of the first person who reads it, even if that isn’t necessarily the hiring manager. It’s important to remember that a HR Department may be made up of several team members, with someone in a lower level position perhaps being responsible for the initial shortlisting of CVs to pass over to the HR manager for review.

The same can be said to be true for a recruitment consultant, that is shortlisting CVs to pass on to a client for review and selection, so its really important to ensure that your personal statement gives all the right information, reflecting the skills and experience you have, in as concise and well written manner as possible, to quickly highlight your ability to do the job. Try and use language and words that reflect the job description of the specific role you are applying for and remove any ‘jargon’.

Usually, 2 sides of A4 is long enough and if you review the information each time you apply for a job to ensure it’s only the relevant experience and skills that you are showcasing your CV may be even shorter.

What Content Should A CV Include?

Your personal statement or summary is your first chance to show the reader why you are the best candidate for the job so it’s important to get this part right. Briefly explain your work experience and skills and the type of role you are looking for – this is the critical area of the CV where you need to adapt and change things depending on the job you are looking for and the value you could bring to the business. For example, if you say you are looking for a software developer job but applying for a SEO manager position your CV is unlikely to go any further in the process.

Your work experience should include the companies you’ve worked for, the job title you held whilst in the position, and the dates you worked there by month and year. As you go further back, to early work history, years alone can be sufficient but if you do that for the most recent jobs it can seem as if you are hiding the actual length of your time working for a company. Which brings us on to accounting for gaps in your work history.

Explaining gaps in employment history is a must as not explaining them or trying to cover them up will likely lead a hiring manager to fear the worst. Be honest and explain. If you were made redundant in the past it is fine to say that and to explain that during the time before starting your new job you did some travelling, re-trained or were doing some voluntary work.

Give a summary of each role and outline responsibilities that match the duties listed on the new job; leaving out those that are irrelevant. For the majority of job applications, you should also focus on the key skills and achievements you acquired/utilised during your time within the role, giving more detailed examples of your achievements.

What Keywords Should I Include In My CV?

Deciding on what keywords to use within your CV can be a bit of challenge, especially if you are not someone who has a strong vocabulary.

Generally speaking, the best types of words to use are predominately action verbs, but at the same time, you want to avoid clichés such as "always go the extra mile" or "works well independently or in a team".

Action verbs help describe the skills you've highlighted to employers in your CV. Having an action verb at the beginning of a line in your bulleted list also helps keep the descriptions of each, short, yet powerful.

Appropriate keywords for your CV could include:

  • Achieved
  • Analysed
  • Built
  • Coordinated
  • Created
  • Designed
  • Developed
  • Increased
  • Launched
  • Marketed
  • Organised
  • Reduced

How To Write The Education Section Of A CV

The education section on a CV is always one where we see a variety of approaches. It really depends at what stage you are at in your career as to the information a potential employer will want to know.

A college leaver for example needs to list the subjects they have studied and grades for each subject, whilst later on in your career, school and college based qualifications are less important and employers will be looking for recent training, or courses that show you are up to date with industry changes and technology.

Honesty Is Best Policy

We mentioned being honest earlier and your CV should reflect your true skills and experience. In the digital world we all live in now, it has become much easier for employers check out potential new employees online, via their social media and other more formal background checks, so if you have told a few white lies or bent the truth in your CV, you will usually get caught out at some point.

And if you have been truthful and know you would be perfect for the job but get an email letting you know you have been unsuccessful in being shortlisted for the role, then why not reply to the hiring manager politely asking if there were any particular reasons as to why? It may help you get some constructive feedback you can keep in mind before submitting your CV for the next available job vacancy!

If you’d like further assistance with CV writing be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on How To Write A CV, its stacked with tips and template examples.