A well-written and presented CV can make all the difference to your chances of success and while the internet is overflowing with lists of top tips for turning your CV into a winner, the quality of the advice is often questionable. We suggest you start instead by asking yourself some basic but crucial questions.

How can I make sure my CV actually gets read?

If you are applying to a particular advertised vacancy that is reasonably easy to answer – just send it to the right email address. But what if it is sitting on a web based database, or in the system of a recruitment agency? Make sure the industries you have worked in and the functions you have covered are prominent.

Does this CV actually sell me?

“Curriculum Vitae” in the original Latin means “the course of one’s life”.  But a CV is nothing of the sort. It’s a personal sales document and should always aim to answer the question of why you are the best person for the job.

Can someone from outside my industry understand what I have done?

Don’t overestimate the sophistication of the people reading your CV. Even if you are applying for a very specialised role there is every chance the first screening will by a generalist HR person or a recruitment consultant. Our advice is to use as little industry specific jargon as you can.

Can I really justify the length of my CV? 

There is a lot of truth in the old saying, “If I’d had more time, I’d have written less”. Simply including page after page of information isn’t what selling yourself is about.  Keep it pertinent, keep it snappy.  However, you can ignore the near universal assertion that a CV should only be two pages long.  It’s a reasonable guide but two pages of listing facts is not the same as two pages of effectively selling your skills and accomplishments.

Am I proud of the person this CV portrays?

You should be. You should read your CV back to yourself and feel that it is a strong description of the best of you. You should want to meet that person.

And last but not least:

Why am I not using a professional to get a professional result?

Your CV matters and it needs to ensure you stand out from the crowd.  So our advice is to talk to someone who has spent years recruiting people and knows exactly what recruiters are looking for.  Someone with a track record in executive CV creation and the ability to create a genuine selling piece which will open doors for you. We give our clients one-to-one attention so that our CVs deliver their career goals.

For further helpful hints, visit our handy hints and tips section.

Watch our video offering five top tips on writing a great CV