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9 Steps to a Successful CV

When supporting candidates through the recruitment process, I always advise them to never underestimate the importance of the quality of their CVs and that a factual and a concise approach is by far the most effective one.

It’s a little-known fact that it can take less than 9 seconds for someone (namely a potential employer) to make a decision as to whether or not they are going to continue reading your CV or simply move on to the next one.

Whilst this may seem rather brutal, in order for you to help your resume to shine, it’s perhaps worth putting yourself in a potential employer’s shoes -  you have a vacancy that requires a specific set of skills, plus you have a demanding day job that you are undertaking alongside this particular piece of recruitment so lack of time can become a big issue. So, with these factors in mind, if you don’t spot something that relates to the skills you are looking for in the first paragraph or two, you are unlikely to invest more time in it so it’s really important to spend time perfecting your ‘hook’.

You of course want to promote yourself in the best way possible so it’s imperative that your CV is engaging from the outset in order to encourage the reader to keep going and see what you’re all about!

Top Tips:

  • Have a personal profile at the top of your CV that is full of fact about your experience however try not to fill it with generic statements - they mean nothing to the reader plus you’d be surprised how many other CVs out there will all say the same thing!

For example

An ACCA qualified Accounts Senior currently managing a portfolio of 80 sole trader and small limited company clients, providing accounts and tax services.

is far more effective than

An excellent communicator and problem solver who works well in a team.

  • Try to keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages – as much as you have to offer, no one really has the time to scroll through 4 or 5 pages of information plus it can dilute all the good stuff in there if it becomes too wordy.
  • Include all professional qualifications at the top of your CV, perhaps just under your personal profile so they jump out at the reader – don’t put them at the bottom as there’s a risk they will never be spotted!
  • Be specific about your achievements when talking about each role, for example any major projects you have worked on, cost saving you have achieved, new systems implementations, staff development, positive changes you have made to make a business more productive/profitable etc. You have done well in your career so far so you need to shout about it!
  • Don’t use fancy fonts, pictures and tables - you’d be surprised how effective keeping it simple can be.
  • If you have any gaps in your CV for whatever reason, it’s always best to explain to them so the reader doesn’t make any incorrect assumptions.
  • Try to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for – if you have experience in a certain area that’s appropriate to the vacancy, make sure that it’s prominent and not tucked away on page 2 somewhere.
  • Never embellish the truth on your CV – there’s always a risk that you will be found out plus it does little for your credibility and can become stressful if you’re challenged about it at interview. Always tell the truth, if they don’t want you for what you can truthfully offer then it’s not the right role or environment for you anyway.
  • SELL YOURSELF! This is the most important tip of them all as often we feel shy or uncomfortable about selling ourselves but this is your moment to really showcase your strengths and achievements so go for it!

Emma Taylor is the Operations Director at Rolf Berryman Consultancy LLP who specialise in the recruitment of Legal, Accountancy and Finance, E-Discovery and Construction professionals, across the UK. If you would like any additional advice on how to perfect your CV, please do get in touch via 01273 900 733.

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