How to write a killer CV

  • Published on 03/10/2022

With the ‘war for talent’ well publicised in the insurance industry, and with employers and recruitment agencies receiving dozens of CVs for each vacancy, it is vital that you stand out from the crowd. The tips shared here will help you make an impact in your career with a professional, interesting and relevant CV that will leap off the page!

10 tips to make an Impact with the Perfect CV:

1. Make the First Impression Just Right

At first glance, your CV should be neat and professional. Formatting and font should be unvarying throughout. Don’t overuse bold and italics, ensure you use regular margins, consistent line spacing, and an easy-to-read, formal typeface such as Times New Roman or Calibri. No retro bubble fonts or kitsch faux handwriting!

 2. Be Clear

The layout should be simple, with key identifying details, (name, address, and contact information) stated near the top of the CV. There is no need to include information such as marital status, date of birth or add a photo of yourself. Main topics should include skills, current, and former employment, qualifications, and references. As an introduction, consider featuring a personal statement that summarises your professional focus and background. There are lots of good examples of CVs available online to give you an idea of what to include.

 3. Streamline Your Qualifications

While it might be tempting to inform potential employers about the “home baking certificate" you got in Year 7, you really need to leave that out. Start by listing your most recent qualifications, ensuring that any certificates relevant to the job are clearly noted. As you move down the list to less recent activities, condense what you write. Aged 16, you may have been taught to list each of your GCSEs by name, examination board, and grade. But if you did your GCSEs 15 years ago and have acquired university degrees, A Levels, NVQs, and other certificates in the interim, then writing, “5 GCSEs including Maths and English at grade C” (or similar, as appropriate) will be more than enough for a potential employer.

 4. Be Job Specific

If you’re applying for more than one job, save a prototype CV with the basics; name, address, and qualifications; and tailor the rest according to the job you’re aiming for. Research the company you or your recruitment agency are sending the CV to and make sure you know their ethos and values. Are they a “fresh and innovative” business? Then give examples of how you have instigated new ideas at a previous company. Is the job “team oriented?” Does the company require flexibility from employees? Make sure you evidence that you have shown a willingness to adapt your schedule as required – inside or outside the workplace.

Some companies also ask for specific formatting, word counts, a passport photograph, or for information to be input directly into a standard portal – ensure you check that you’ve fulfilled all the criteria to be in with a chance to impress them.

 5. Be positive

Speak positively about everything you have done. Negative events and experiences can either be left out – or – if it is necessary to include them (for example, to explain periods of absence from work), they can be used to show your “resilience”, “character” or “ability to adapt to changing circumstances”.

 6. Be Succinct

Aim to keep your CV no more than two A4 pages. A recruitment agent or employer, scanning through hundreds of CVs, does not want to read six sides of descriptive writing. An overview of qualifications with recent work experience relevant to the job will be ideal. Given this, keep in mind point one – don’t pack too much in, and if in doubt, take it out.

 7. Make No Errors

Check, check and check again. Then give your CV to someone else to check. The CV is “you” on paper, so make sure it is the representation that you want people to see. There should be no spelling or grammar mistakes. If you don’t have a friend who can check it through for you, there are companies that will do this for a small fee.

 8. Be Specific and Focus on Achievements

Potential employers want to know what kind of positive impact you can have on their company. Back up your claims by focusing on achievements with solid evidence. If you have previous experience of working in sales, how many people did you speak to per day? How many sales did you make? If an innovative idea saved a previous employer money or time, be precise about the details. Percentages and figures have an impressive impact – so if you can show that you “increased customer retention by 3%” or “were able to make contact with an additional 7% of prospective clients per day” then get those statistics in there wherever possible! Be prepared to talk further about these details at the interview.

 9. Tell the Truth

You might feel tempted to add an extra qualification or life skill to your CV – but remember these are easy to check, and HR teams will research your background as part of their regular procedures. You are also likely to be asked to bring in evidence of qualifications and discuss what you have written in your CV at the interview. So, avoid embellishing your CV with untruths and instead focus on highlighting what makes you interesting.

 10. Social Media

Remember your CV is out there and present your “best you” on social media. Once an employer has received your CV, it is standard practice to look you up on search engines and social media. Those photos of your recent holiday in the sun might be something you want to share with your friends… but do you want prospective employers to see them? If not, take them down, or change your privacy settings to the maximum level.

 If you follow our ten tips, you’re well on your way to making an impact with your CV, and we hope you find them useful and relevant as you explore your next career options!