The devil is in the detail: CV tips

Posted in Blog on 31 Oct 2019

Usually your CV is the first opportunity you have to impress a prospective employer. Your CV is a great way promote yourself and is the easiest way to outline your career history, experience, key skills, and motivations in one place. Throughout the screening process, HR managers are often inundated with similar and generic CVs and it can be hard to for them to evaluate the person behind the paper. 

To the untrained eye, these documents may appear simple to create, however, they follow some unspoken rules that are important when it boils down to selling yourself as the ideal candidate. By following guidance listed below you can ensure that your CV is in tip top condition which will help maximise your chances of landing an interview, and perhaps your dream job!


The content of your CV is vital. Check, Check and re check, spelling and accuracy are everything here. If it doesn’t read well, fix it. Hirers spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing your CV before making the initial yes or no decision.

Technical knowledge is important to include if you are applying for Niche and Senior positions. It can illustrate that you are knowledgeable in specific areas and can reassure the hiring manager of your experience. However, you should be wary of overuse. Using too much technical language, or worst applying it in the wrong situation, can act counterproductively by making your CV unreadable. Details from job description should be reflected throughout the content of your CV as a way of signposting to the recruiter that you are a match for the position.

Another golden rule is to try and tailor your CV to every application you make. You should keep a general copy up to date and use this as a template to work from. In doing this you should be made aware of any enhancements your CV may need or if there are any gaps in your experience that you may need to talk around (or begin fill) in the meantime.


Keep it concise, in a tidy format and include relevant information– under 2 pages is the gold standard. You should generally follow the format of;

  • Personal details - Name, address, contact details (number/ email address), and links to social media profiles such as LinkedIn 
  • Short Snapshot - Usually 1 or two lines that set out your objectives, your envisioned career path and emphasise any key skills and attributes
  • Education and Training - You should always start with your most recent qualifications and work backwards. It is good to list if you have attended any relevant courses and to cover any language proficiencies in this section
  • Achievements - Accreditations and awards are always a great selling point; they help you stand out as an individual and indicate high performance
  • Employment history/ work experience - This should also take a chronological approach listing your most up to date positions with all of the core responsibilities of the role and experience gained included. Detail of your development when reading through your CV chronologically makes for good reading. If you are working in a similar role to a previous one, employers are keen to understand where you have progressed in your latest role. You should demonstrate how you have excelled in each role preferably in quantifiable measurements if possible
  • Interests - Only include relevant interests… a hiring manager will not qualify a candidate based on their water skiing experiences for example
  • References - Normally adding the tag line of “references available on request” will suffice, unless it is otherwise specified that they need to be included


Ensure you stand out by removing or reducing generic cliché’s like ‘hard worker’, ‘highly motivated’, and ‘enthusiastic’. Your CV should represent you and not a google search. See our article from last year for more information. By injecting personality into your CV you can make an application entertaining yet professional – a healthy balance needs to be maintained to enable your CV to outshine other competition yet for it not to burn your chances of gaining an interview.

Many people believe that having a creatively designed CV or including a photograph of themselves helps them stand out as individuals rather than just an applicant. Hirers are not looking for fancy presentation and regard substance over style. We would always suggest that keeping your CV to the point and presenting it in a plain, neat and methodical manner trumps the more “out there” CVs that grab attention for the wrong reasons.

For more insight on CVs tips check out our advice page and infographics. You can view our latest vacancies to send your newly updated CV directly to one of our expert consultants. Contact us on 0161 233 6360 for more information.

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