The experts’ have their say: How to write a great CV

No matter how much of a seasoned pro you may be at writing, re-writing, editing and updating your CV, we can all be guilty of make the odd slip up. That’s why it can be hugely useful to get advice from someone else – and who better to give that advice than the recruiters who could be reviewing your CV?

We spoke with the Anne Corder Recruitment team to get their thoughts on what makes a great CV – and some of the common mistakes they see. Have a read of the below advice and make sure you keep your CV to hand too, so you can make those all-important updates that can make your application stand out of the crowd!

Provide the most important information from the first glance

The first look a recruiter takes at your CV is crucial – they’ll be looking for some key information and to get a quick impression of what your skills are and if fit a role they’re actively recruiting for.

We asked our recruitment experts: When you look at a CV for the first time, what is the first thing you check?

For recruitment partner Rosie, a clear and concise CV is a priority: “I’ll first be looking for dates, job title(s) and company for each previous role, so these need to be clearly indicated.”

Recruitment partner, Judith, agrees that a clear and concise CV is really important. Judith recommends that job seekers review their CV to see here they could use bullet points or summaries to get across information quickly and in an easily-read manner: “bullet points are always really good for listing skills and experience and a short, sharp personal statement or summary introducing yourself can be very helpful.”

For Emma, our business management support at ACR, spelling and grammar is what stands out to her first: “a well-written CV which has clearly been proofread with the job seeker taking care over spelling and grammar always stands out to me.”

Yet recruitment coordinator, Camilla makes an interesting point too – if she has a role in mind when reviewing CVs she will be looking closely at the location of a potential candidate: “location is so important when it comes to matching up candidates with jobs, so I will be looking to see whether a candidate is in a good commutable location for a role I am recruiting for.

“It’s so important for candidates to very clearly state if they are willing or planning to relocate for a new job. If relocation is on the cards, I need to know about it straight away.”

In summary, to make sure your CV makes the right impression to recruiters, make sure you:

  • proofread your CV and triple check for any spelling or grammatical errors;
  • use bullet points to list your skills and experience;
  • include a clear personal statement,
  • and always clearly state your location and whether you are intending to relocate.

Avoid these common CV pitfalls

At the other end of the spectrum, as much as there are things recruiters will actively look for on your CV there are also a few things that they hope to avoid – but if you’ve never been in a recruiter’s shoes before it can be tricky to know what these are!

To help you know what to avoid when putting together your CV we asked our recruitment experts: What is a big ‘no’ for you on a CV?

Anne, owner of Anne Corder Recruitment, Judith, Emma and Camilla all unanimously agreed that photos on CVs are very much a no-go for them. Including a photo of you is considered old fashioned in the modern world of recruitment, particularly as it’s so important for recruitment to avoid any kind of discrimination.

Camilla even added: “we see some CVs with selfies included. Although these are the norm for us in our everyday lives, from social media to taking photos with friends, they come across as very unprofessional on your CV.”

Recruitment Partner - Rosie HareRosie also flagged up the importance of knowing the line between professional and unprofessional. She added: “your CV isn’t the place to be sharing lots of personal information. Keep it professional and focus on your career, skills and experience.

“Although many choose to include information such as hobbies, which may add extra soft skills to your CV, there is a fine line between that and over-sharing. For example, it’s not necessary for us know about your family or pets – we want to know about you and your professional experience.”

From over-sharing to not enough detail, a niggle for Emma is missing information on a CV. She said: “It’s frustrating if you are trying to establish whether an individual has relevant experience for a role but dates are not included for when they were in particular jobs.”

Even if you have had a career break, it’s best not to try and hide that on your CV. Be upfront about it, provide a short explanation and remember – many of us develop new skills whilst on career breaks that are applicable to our jobs, so why not mention these?

Camilla elaborates on this even further. Working as part of the temp team at ACR, recruiting for temporary roles, Camilla noted: “it’s really important those looking for temp roles say if they are immediately available or not. If they haven’t said they have left their most recent role, it can be difficult to establish if they need to work a notice period and as a result cannot be immediately available.”

All together, to make sure you don’t make these mistakes on your CV:

  • avoid including a photo of yourself, particularly any selfies;
  • make sure you focus on professional details and information applicable to your career,
  • and always include dates for different jobs on your CV.

Look at the bigger picture but the smaller details too

Think about how your CV comes across both at a quick glance and when someone is reviewing it in detail – because both really matter when it comes to a recruiter considering your CV.

Anne advises that job seekers think carefully about how they format their CV: “a clear layout that avoids any big blocks of text is very important. We need to be able to pick up on your key skills and experience quickly, without reading long blurbs of text.”

Yet it’s the smaller details that count too. As Judith already flagged up, good spelling and grammar are crucial and Rosie explained further: “your CV is your chance to show your skills and if your spelling and grammar aren’t correct then it does bring into question attention to detail and literacy.”

If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong point, ask a friend to read through your CV for you and suggest changes.

Camilla also noted some of the smaller details that can still be very important to particular roles: “a great example of this is stating on your CV if you can drive and have the use of your own vehicle, particularly if a role requires travel.”

Anne also flagged up tweaking and changing some of the details in your CV depending on the job you are applying for: “revisit your CV for each separate application you make. Gone are the days when you could get by with one CV that you used for everything.

Make your CV work really hard for you by picking up on particular skills or experience that match each job description – you’ll make yourself stand out and show great attention to detail.”

Emma agreed, adding: “Make you CV short, sweet and to the point. Focus on the skills and experience you have to fulfil the specific role you are applying for and put your most relevant experience at the top of your CV to make it really stand out.”

With that in mind:

  • review the format of your CV and make sure it is legible, easy to pick out highlights and appears professional
  • check your spelling and grammar,
  • and tailor your CV to each new role you apply for – one size does not fit all when it comes to job hunting!

More advice on getting the best from your job search

Hopefully our advice helps you to put together a stand-out CV, so you can be confident you are doing your skills and experience justice.

Of course, there is much more to the job application process than just your CV – with meeting recruiters, interviews and getting settled in to your new job. With all this in mind we have put together a job seekers resource centre with articles, tools and advice tailored to help you from choosing a career path through to getting the most from your recruitment agency.

Visit the resource centre

If you have any questions about your CV and how you may be able to improve it, why not leave a comment below?

About the Author

Camilla Mitcham

Camilla Mitcham

Recruitment Partner

Camilla is a recruitment partner at Anne Corder Recruitment. An expert in spotting a great CV, Camilla blogs for Anne Corder Recruitment offering tips and advice for job seekers on standing out, managing their job hunt and more.