Creating a winning CV

You apply for a role, your CV arrives on the desk of the HR department... along with at least 100 others. What can you do to make sure your CV makes an impact for all the right reasons?

Hiring managers can often be inundated with applications for a vacant role, and the best way to grab their attention is to provide a tailored CV.

Circulating a generic CV around potential employers is unlikely to bring you success. Hiring managers want to be sure each applicant has a genuine interest in the role they have applied for, and see that they have clearly spent time on their submission. Otherwise it can give the impression you have been applying for jobs indiscriminately, and this is simply one of many applications.

‘You should always strive to position the most relevant details – your key qualifications, experience and skills – high up on the CV,’ says Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK. ‘Depending on the role you are applying for, and its varying demands, this information may change slightly.’

When writing about skills and experiences, it is important to use the present tense – these are attributes you have, not those you acquired in the past but then lost due to lack of use. It is important to give the impression that you have a bank of skills, which can be called upon when required.

Potential value

Hiring managers will be interested in your professional and higher education qualifications, along with information on your school exams. They may also be interested in where you studied.

Activities you undertake in your leisure time may still be worth including, if they help demonstrate the potential value you could offer to an employer. But, as always, be selective.

‘The most effective method of ensuring your CV stands out is to present your key achievements at the top of your CV,’ says Andrew Wilkinson, a senior manager at Venn Group. ‘Where possible, quantify these as finance and accounting are obviously focused on numbers and hirers will want to see examples of where you’ve made a real difference in your career so far.

‘This is particularly important when highlighting achievements in three key areas: process improvement, cost saving/profit growth and business partnering. Professionals who can outline that they helped their employer to save money over a three-year period, for example, are considerably more likely to be noticed than those who’ve simply outlined their achievements in writing.’

Of course, not everything will be quantifiable, particularly when it comes to successes in business partnering, but look to frame your accomplishments in a numerical context where you can, as this is what eagle-eyed hirers will be looking for.