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To CV, or not CV

7 Tops Tips to Craft your CV

Last week we jumped the gun, got carried away and wrote about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and how they play their part in you securing your next job. The world of the an ATS can be described as the “Dark Arts" with many people not have an awareness of their existence, let alone a working knowledge of them. However, we did skip a rung on the career ladder and wanted to rectify that in this week’s blog post. That rung being, how to write your CV/Curriculum Vitae or Resume for our American readers.

In terms of page length for a CV- a good starting point is 2-3 pages. Perhaps Page 3 lists your references, although we have seen companies specifically request a CV to contain 2 pages only. For aesthetic reasons, some candidates only submit a single page resume, again this is a personal choice, but consider that you may not have enough detail listed to be shortlisted.

I was helping a friend with a re-write of their CV last week and as I was going through my tips on the sections to include, I thought, this could be useful for a wider audience. You may need to re-write your CV for each job you apply for, so be mindful of this.

1. First, sit back and reflect

Have a think about your career, the jobs you have had, any promotions, any time you covered for colleagues, projects that you owner/contributed on. Make a list of each job and then break them down into what you did. Was your role expanded in your tenure? Did you ever move to a competitor/customer/supplier? Were you headhunted by a specific company for a core competency that you have developed over your career? It can be easy to forget about some elements from your career, so invest time to ensure you capture everything. One point you write about could stand out for the hiring manager and get you the job.

Get a clear picture of your job history, your wins and write down the numbers as supporting evidence. If you are going for a sales role, make sure you talk about Sales Closed, revenue generated in your roles. Similarly, if you are a programming ninja, list the languages you can program in, don't assume the reader knows anything about you.

2. Personal Statement

Boom! This has to hit the reader right between the eyes and send them into a biz of action to pick up the phone/drop you an email to continue the conversation, it has to be well written, succinct and honest. Write this in a positive tone, think of an executive summary from your Uni dissertation days, listing your relevant skills, years of experience etc.

You are selling Brand-You

Nobody else will sell you, or emphasise your career triumphs as well as you will and for some people (me included), it can be a tricky thing to do so invest the time to get this area right and get feedback from people who have worked with you.

3. Soft Skills

Soft skills include: "collaboration, team work, communicator, friendly, creative, problem solving, adaptable." Please remember to include these in your personal statement and throughout your job history. Companies typically do not want any "lone wolfs", they are looking for candidates who can fit seamlessly into the team.

4. Job History

I remember working with a marketing agency and talking about the hiring process; what skills did they look for when hiring their staff. One of the founders said he only hired people with “Customer facing roles". It didn’t matter if they were not in a customer facing role for his business, but at some point, they could be and their experience would be important to deal with colleagues and customers in high-stress environments. Our point here is, do not discount some early jobs you may have had, this could be the one that helps you secure an interview. Perhaps group together a series of jobs from your school/college days into a paragraph that highlights the skills you developed.

Our advice to frame each job is as follows:

MM/YY - MM/YY Company Name, Location, Title


  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

Key Responsibilities

  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

Key Achievements/projects

  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

  • Xxxx

5. Education/Training

This is a suggested way to write about qualifications completed during Secondary school:

Name – Dates Attended (to-from)

Subject – Grade

We would suggest you use this convention for third level achievements:

Qualification – Grade, Name of Institution, year

6. Interests and Hobbies

As someone who has hired people, I do like to read what people do. It gives some context to your job history and can fill in some blanks. Have you ever done volunteering, charity work, pro-bono activities for groups? Do you take part in team sports, now or historically? These activities are often where we have developed our soft skills, that are so applicable to the work place, virtual or in-person. I talk about building Lego in mine and having recently taken up DJ-ing. A future residency in Ibiza is unlikely, but it a new hobby for these lockdown times.

7. References

It is common for at least references to be requested for your future employer. We would suggest you list the names, contact details and job titles for 2 people who can talk about you from a professional standpoint, obviously asking their permission and checking their compliance in advance. A third reference can be a personal referee, maybe from one of your hobbies/post school activities. You should expect a company to complete their due diligence and contact your references.

HappyJobsNI wishes you the very best of luck in your career and choices in 2021.


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