Guide to Writing a CV

Everyone in sales knows that first impressions count. You never get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure your CV is giving the right first impression, accurate, professional and intelligent.

As a recruitment business we have seen it all when it comes to CV’s. People of all ages and all levels make mistakes and it is worth rechecking your CV each and every time you put yourself out in the job market.

Whether you are graduate seeking your first opportunity in the job market or a Sales Director looking for a new challenge your CV is the most important part of your job search. It is that all important first impression and in these competitive times you need to make sure that your CV stands out for all of the right reasons.

If you are applying directly for a job, sending your CV out speculatively or uploading it onto a jobsite it is imperative that your CV is factually accurate, grammatically correct and shows you in the most positive light. You also need to ensure that what is on your CV matches your LinkedIn profile and any application forms that you may fill in. Discrepancies will be picked up and you do not want to give a potential employer any doubts or concerns.

Employers and agencies are flooded with CV’s on a daily basis. When we look at CV’s we are looking in the first instance for reasons to turn candidates down. Why is this person NOT right for the job.

CV’s that have spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, are all in upper or lower case will be put in the no pile straight away. CV’s that are poorly laid out, are difficult to read, have no dates on will be declined. CV’s with gaps and no explanations could be rejected without giving you a chance to account for the time.

When there is a wide choice of candidates, employers and agencies can be fussy. We are looking for good strong CV’s of candidates who are relevant to the job.

There is a lot of advice out there on how to lay out your CV. Word Processing programmes have templates that you can use. Just bear in mind these golden rules:

  • Make sure you have the dates (month and year) for all of the jobs on your CV and make sure all of the dates are correct. If you have a gap in your employment put in an explanation.
  • Put employers names along with a line about what the company do. Make it easy for the reader to know what products you have sold. Do not use large blocks of writing, use bullet points
  • Do not do your CV in a rush and then send it out or add it to a job board.
  • There is never an excuse for a CV with mistakes and once you’ve sent it it’s too late. It is better to take the time to get your CV done right than to get it done quickly only to discover that you have made mistakes.
  • Tell the truth – there is a lot of information out there on the internet and employers will do searches to see what they can find out about potential employees.
  • This is your chance to sell yourself and if you are on our website that means that you are a sales person, you must be able to sell yourself! Talk about targets, achievements, goals, shout loud and proud about your successes. A word of caution though, you must be able to back up everything you say so make sure you stick with the facts.
  • Some sales professionals talk without saying anything. Make sure that your CV is telling your story and not just a lot of words that mean nothing. Avoid jargon, abbreviations and acronyms.
  • Check, check and recheck your CV for spelling and grammatical errors. When you have checked it ask one or two other people to check it for you as well.

At Wheeler White we use a standard format for CV’s that we send out to our clients. It is simple and it works.

Start with a Personal Profile. A couple of paragraphs about yourself and your skills. A line or two about what you are looking for. If you are posting you CV on a jobsite make your profile quite general. If you are sending it for a particular job then tailor it to that job.

Whatever you do make sure it is relevant to the job you are sending it for.

We receive numerous CV’s that have clearly been put together for a particular job. For example if we advertise a new business role we may get a CV saying, I am looking for a role in account management. You may not get a chance to explain that you are keeping your options open.

The next part on your CV depends on whether you are recently out of education or not. If you are then put your Education section next. The place you studied, the dates and your subjects and grades. If you are awaiting results, say so and put down your anticipated grades.

If your education is further back in time then your career history is more relevant so put this next. Career History should be most recent first. You should put the company name along with a line explaining what the company do/sell, job title and dates (month and year). Then you should bullet point aspects of your job, your achievements etc.

Next, if you haven’t already, should come your education and training; again most recent first.

Next you can put your hobbies and interests, any voluntary/community work and extra activities that you take part in. It’s the part of your CV when you can give someone an idea of the real you. Remember you may be questioned around this so be truthful and up to date. If you used to be a runner but haven’t put on a pair trainers in twenty years, don’t put it on your CV you may be being interviewed by a marathon runner!

Lastly you can put your personal details. Now this section is very much a matter of personal choice as to the information that you include. Due to employment law you do not have to give details of your age, marital status and whether you have children. If you want to then that’s fine, if not that is also fine.

CV’s ideally should be on 2 pages. If you are struggling with this look at the font and spacing you are using. If you are finding it impossible then make sure your CV is no longer than 3 pages.

Some people use the words Curriculum Vitae at the top of their CV. I think this is unnecessary and a waste of precious space, it’s obvious what it is and also shocking how many people spell this wrong. Leave it off and you know it’s a mistake that you’ve avoided.

Remember, once you have done your CV you need to learn it ready for interview, you will always be asked questions around you CV so make sure you can back up every claim that you have made and most importantly before you use your CV check it recheck it and then ask others to check it!!