How to Write a CV That Distinguishes You  


The Internet houses a wealth of articles proving advice about preparing a CV so what's so different about this article, well as an ex recruiter I have had first hand experience of reviewing literally thousands and thousands of CV's and have a good understanding about what's important to employers.

When should I write a CV?

I'm not just interested in offering advice to help you in your job search I believe that whether you are actively looking or not you should always update you CV at least once a year. After all it is much easier to update your CV at regular intervals than it is to write one from scratch and trying to cast your mind back to exactly what you have done in the last 20 years!

The approach I adhere to is continuous improvement and anyway it's fun to look back over the year and assess what exactly you have achieved, what training you have completed and how your skills have grown during that time.

Personal Statement

As an introduction to any CV I always encourage people to write a short paragraph (no more than a few sentences) about themselves and what type of person they are for example,

"I am an enthusiastic career driven individual with a strong team emphasis who excels in embracing tough new challenges and is able to motivate others towards achieving a common purpose."


"I am a hardworking, calm and problem focused individual who is adept at working alone to create innovative solutions to complex situations through the application of scientific criteria."


How far should I go back? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive and can only be answered with another question, ask yourself how relevant is my school history to the job? For example as a school leaver it is absolutely essential that you include all of your education history and grades because you are likely to have less experience to draw upon and therefore your educational abilities will be important to a potential employer. As a seasoned professional with 20+ years in the industry does a new employer really need to know that you went to "Ashford Primary School" ?

I can't answer the question about what is or isn't relevant only you can do that, but think about what stage your career is currently at and address your education accordingly.

My personal format for educational background is date from - to , institution and grades for example;

1985 - 1989 - Mouse Secondary School, 8 GCSE'S grades A-C, including English and Mathematics.

Also think about other educational experiences since you left school and include any of the following in this section

- Professional Qualifications i.e. CIPD, PHD, PGSE - University, College courses - Professional Training in your job that is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

Work Experience

This is a critical section as it details the skills you can bring to the job drawing on what you have done in the past, so don't worry if you don't have lots of educational experience, some of the most successful business and professional people learnt all their skills through work experience.

Try and break down your current employment into key skills think about some of the following headings and try and building your CV around these particular areas to demonstrate your abilities;

- Time Management - Delegation Skills - Line Management Responsibilities - Budget Management for example Profit and Loss responsibility - Motivation, are you a self starter you do you need structures to follow - Organisation Skills - Report Writing/Letter Writing Skills - Communication and Listening Skills - Working as part of a team.

Don't worry if you don't have a formal education background there are still lots of skills that you can offer to a future employer, these skills can often be more relevant.

The most important thing to remember is to give specific examples of how you have demonstrated these skills in your work, draw out one or two per employment history for example;

1989 - Present Blogs Ltd, Senior Training Manager

Blogs Limited is a multinational corporation employing 20,000 people and with an annual turnover of 54 Million pounds. Within this role I reported directly to the board and had line management responsibility for 10 employees. My primary responsibility was to ensure the identification and strategic planning of training requirements across the organisation which required a significant level of organisational and time management skills in co-ordinating team roles and responsibilities to achieve this objective.


This is always the first section that I used to read as it gave me a flavour of the person who had applied but be warned it can also be your downfall. Once again think about who your CV is targeted and considered what you include in this section.

CV Length

There is a myth that any CV should not be longer than 2 pages. This is absolute nonsense I have read CV's of professional contractors (particularly in the IT industry) who due to the short duration of contracts have CV's lasting 10 pages, but the information which they contain is both succinct and relevant. This is the key, employers prefer to see short work histories in which you have demonstrated specific examples of how you have used your skills than page long summaries that talk about who you sat next to and how good you were in the company golf team.


- BE Specific - BE Positive - BE Confident in your skills.

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About the Author

Having worked in the recruitment industry for over five years, I now write extensively on the subject of job search, interview tips, Resume and CV advice. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like and get it answered online. Visit my comprehensive blog dedicated to the Job Search process The Jobsearch Expert Blog