How to produce a world-class CV

Along with your birth certificate and passport, a CV is perhaps one of the most important documents you own.

Thu, July 25th, 09:23


It’s fair to say that the course of your career is largely determined by how effectively you are able to present your past working experience and highlight your skill sets. Everyday recruiters and employers reject a significant number of well qualified candidates on the basis of an underwhelming CV. Job seeking success is predicated on being able to effectively showcase your career experience and skills to the utmost.

The following is a list of 5 important steps to help you optimise your CV and make it stand out from the competition.

1.     Incorporate a personal statement:

Many candidates employ the use of objective statements in their CV; however these fail to give the recruiter any sense of your character. An example of an objective statement would be something like this: “Highly motivated technician seeking to obtain a position as an engineering specialist in the field of maintenance”. With space at a premium on your CV, the opening line should be a personal statement, which allows you to outline your character, experience and skills.

The following is how the above statement can be reworked as a personal statement: “Target-driven technician with over 5 years’ experience in the field of engineering maintenance”. As you can see, this approach makes for a more concise summary with far greater impact.  Personal statements are better than objective ones because they demonstrate what you as a candidate can offer the employer.

2.     Build your experience around achievements:

All of your past experience should be written as a list of achievements and not as a long list of duties and responsibilities. Responsibility-based CVs fail to show the recruiter or hiring manager how you went above and beyond the basic requirements of your role. An achievements-based CV allows the employer to quickly see what sets you apart from everyone else and what you will bring to the company.

3.     Use condensed sentences:

Your achievements should be written in bullet points using professional shorthand. Do not write whole sentences like: “I coordinated and managed all of the day-to-day operations of the west coast sales division”. This statement should read: “Coordinated and managed day-to-day operations of west coast sales division”. This sentence now makes more of an impact while also saving you valuable space on your CV.

4.     Integrate keywords:

With large volumes of applications being received from job seekers every day, recruiters have had to enlist the assistance of automated keyword search algorithms to sift through CVs. Make sure that you optimise your CV with appropriate keywords related to the job you are applying for. You can find many of these keywords within the job ad description.

5.     Don’t cram your CV onto one page:

Not all CVs need to be kept to one page. Sometimes jobseekers can take this guideline too far and can use elaborate means to squeeze their professional experience onto one single A4 page. In some instances they achieve this by simply reducing the font size. Such tactics are counterproductive and will only make your CV difficult to read. If you have considerable experience, qualifications and achievements, trying to compress your professional career is only doing you a disservice.

The ideal maximum length of your CV should not exceed one and three quarter pages. One quick way of reducing the word count would be to remove extraneous detail like your date of birth, hobbies and such things as closing statements, for example: “References available on request”. Employers and recruiters already know they must request your references, this sentence has come to mean: “This is the end of my CV”.


Dave Cullen

The Irish Times