How to write a great CV

Any Google search will present thousands of results for tips on writing a great CV. But no-one understands how to present yourself on paper better than recruiters. After all, we see hundreds of CVs every week and hear direct client feedback to get insight into which ones stand out. And if you’re an Information Management professional, no-one understands how to present your CV better than KDR Recruitment. So read on for our top tips, learnt through years of experience.

Sell yourself

A CV is no place for modesty. It’s your chance to grab a potential employer’s attention with what you can offer them. Don’t make them work hard to understand how good you are. Selling yourself comes easily to candidates in some industries but we tend to find Information Management professionals are an unassuming bunch. If you find it hard to translate what you do into a benefit, ask a colleague or family member to give you an objective viewpoint. When you are describing your work experience, explain how you contributed to a wider business objective or helped achieve a target. Provide evidence of your successes. Here’s an example:

Don’t do this: Responsible for data quality throughout the business.

Do this: Improved data quality throughout the business to 95% completeness through changes to data collection techniques.

We’re not talking about using hyperbole or padding your CV out with superlatives. Just be focused on the skills you have and why they are useful to employers.

Edit, edit and edit again

We recommend that even the most experienced job hunters should try and get their CV down to 2 pages. This means being ruthless with the information you include and deleting superfluous words or sentences. You may have achieved a lot in a previous role but edit your list to the most impressive or relevant points. It’s generally better to avoid listing lots and lots of skills as they can overwhelm the reader and blend into one. Focus on the skills that are most sought after, are the things you do best or deliver the most benefit to employers.

If you are writing a personal statement or profile summary (and yes, we recommend that you do), avoid the trap of becoming fluffy or stating the obvious. We see so many CVs with empty statements like “now seeking my next opportunity to use the skills I’ve gained to develop my career.” Your personal statement should sell you and why you are worth interviewing in a concise way.

Think of the future, not the past

Really great CVs will translate your existing experience into how you could benefit an employer in the future. If this is tailored to a specific job opportunity, so much the better. So for example, if you have great project management skills learnt from upgrading your company’s portal to a .net platform, you could talk about project management skills that deliver a more flexible development environment to enable faster changes to company websites.

Try to think creatively about how you could apply what you know to different companies and paint a picture of what you could have delivered after 12 months in a new role.

Demonstrate some personality

This is slightly contentious because many CV writing advisors now warn against including a ‘hobbies and interests’ section on your resume. However, our belief is that how you fit into a corporate culture is becoming increasingly important to hiring managers; showing a bit of personality through your CV might make the difference that gets you the interview over another similarly qualified candidate. Many interviewers even appreciate having an ice breaker to start the interview with.

So how do you inject personality? It can be done through the language you use or by the subtle use of humour. Don’t go overboard though and don’t use exclamation marks. If your interests are going to the gym and eating out, why not write that as “I train hard at the gym and then undo all my good work with a pub lunch and the Sunday papers.”

Presentation matters

Get the basics right when formatting your CV:

  • Stick to one simple font like Arial, Tahoma or Verdana
  • Use bold, italics, underlining or bullet points to help readability
  • Proof read and spell check your CV – typos are just unacceptable
  • List your work experience in order of most recent first and unless you are a graduate, place your education details at the end
  • Write in the first person rather than third ie “I am an experienced Programme Manager with proven experience in delivering business transformation …” rather than “Programme Manager with experience of … etc”.
  • Don’t label your personal information – it’s obvious what your name is. Include your physical and email addresses and any telephone number/s you are happy to be contacted on. Remove your date of birth and marital status as your recruitment consultant will have to do that anyway

We hope this advice on writing your CV is helpful but if you want us to review your current CV and provide some personal tips, you can upload it here or call us on 01565 651 422.

KDR Recruitment is the home of the best data, technology and analytics jobs. For more career advice follow KDR on LinkedIn.

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