Writing A Winning CV

Around 12 months ago I posted a blog called CV Writing Tips. I still get a lot of questions about writing CV’s. Should it be a short or long form CV? How much detail do I put on my CV? How far do I go back in my career? How many pages should I have on my CV? Etc…


You will get a lot of people giving their views on what makes a winning CV. These views can vary which is confusing. This blog is designed to answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding CV writing.


The First Page Effect:

If your first page is not engaging then you are making things harder for yourself. You want the reader to be keen to read the next page. This is very important. The first page should be clear and concise, I suggest the following format:

Personal Profile:
Start with a paragraph explaining what you will bring to any prospective employer. My view is that your personal profile should both encapsulate what experience you have and should align with the roles that you are targeting. There is no point mentioning things that are not aligned to the roles which you are applying for. (This can potentially come later in your CV).

Core Competencies Section:
This is where you talk about your strengths.

In a Project, Program or Change Management CV I would be looking for evidence of stakeholder management, Organisational Change Management, Organisational Design, understanding of Project or Change Methodologies. I would also be interested in size of teams which you have managed, your leadership style, the budgets which you have been accountable for and whether you have worked on local, offshore or global initiatives.

Achievements Section:
This is my favourite section of the CV. This is what can be the catalyst for interesting conversations in your interview. I see a lot of CV’s where people tend to have their responsibilities and achievements under the same heading after each role on their CV. My suggestion is not to do this. Your responsibilities and your achievements are different so make a distinction between them. Think of examples of what your delivery meant to the business unit/company/stakeholder that you worked for? Did you save the organisation money, increase revenue, build capability, create efficiencies? Was there a Change or Transformation implemented and if so how well? Did you deliver something that was a first for the organisation? Did you and your team receive or get nominated for an award?

Career Summary:
Put the relevant dates, companies which you have worked for and job titles)


First Page Completed Second and Subsequent Pages:

Employment History:
I often get the questions around how far back should someone go in terms of experience on their CV? Which companies and experiences should they list? I am generally interested in the last 5-10 years of what a candidate has done. This is where I am looking for the detail, this does not mean everything else that you have done in your career is not relevant. Let me give an example If I was ever to apply for a job it is unlikely that I will go into detail about the jobs which I had when I was a student. I am 39 years old now and I have been in the workforce for a while so what I did in my first job is not relevant to the sort of role that I would apply for if I was on the market. I would ensure that the detail on my CV aligned to the role which I was applying for.


Other Sections:

Contact Details:
This can be included on the first or last page. I prefer to see this on the first page (it saves me time)

Education & Training Sections:
If you have enough space put this on the first page. Your education, qualifications and training are very important but can always be put at the end of the CV. It really depends on how your first page looks and can you fit them on.

Put on last page, unless mentioned in achievements section.

Put on last page. It is surprising how one of your interests can become an “icebreaker” in an interview. I hope that this answers some of the questions which people have.