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Top tips to writing a winning CV

Posted on 15/04/2020 by Bita Heffernan

CV on keyboard

A good CV will give you the best possible chance of securing an interview or a new job with a prospective employer. It is important to demonstrate why you are the most suitable person for the role, showcasing your skills, experience, and why you are interested in the position. CV’s are often the first direct communication with an employer and is an opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself. Here at TPP, we understand the importance of a winning CV, so we have put together some of our top tips and frequently asked questions on CV writing.

Personal details: Name, email, telephone number, address.

Personal statement: Use this to highlight who you are, your suitability and experience for the role and career aspirations and goals – keep this brief and professional.

Education & professional qualification: Start with your most recent, include institution, what you studied and dates.

Systems/IT experience: Include databases, Microsoft skills – avoid using subjective works such as “intermediate at Excel” instead briefly list what you can do on Excel “Sort, formulas, Pivot Tables.” 

Work history: Start with your most recent, include the organisation, the dates you worked there, and job title. Where relevant under each role include key achievements outside of your daily duties – try to include initiatives and processes you introduced and highlight the impact of these initiatives, where possible with facts and figures, if relevant.

Interests & hobbies: This is a good opportunity to reveal a little bit of your personality but avoid irrelevant things.

References: Avoid listing names and contact details of your referee’s and instead write “references available up on request.”

Helpful tips:

Spelling and grammar check: Remember your CV is representing you so use a spelling & grammar tool for a thorough check.

Language: Use consistent language, so if you refer to yourself in the third person, do the same throughout your CV. Avoid using generic words and instead use active verbs such as created, devised, implemented and give yourself credit for the work you have completed – instead of saying the team delivered a particular task write about your contribution and involvement.

Headings and space: Use each new heading to section your CV, ensure there is enough space between sections and bold new section headings.

Programme: Use a popular programme such Microsoft Word to write your CV, that way the finished document will be compatible with most computers and easily accessible.

Fonts & size: Avoid using really unique fonts, and make them neither too big or small. Choose something clear, and easy to read. A commonly used option is Arial, size 12.

Keep it professional: Ensure that your personal email address is a professional one – remember this is a professional document for your perspective & future employer.

Be honest: Do not mislead or lie on your CV – Not only will you seem dishonest to your future employer you can also face more serious consequences.

Always include facts: An example of this is a job title that’s not commonly used by other organisations or reflective of the role you did – do not change the title instead include a brief line outlining this under the relevant role.

Commonly asked questions:

“Does my CV have to be 2 pages or less?”

Whilst you don’t want to include the details of every task you’ve completed in your employment history, it’s important not to lose or leave out valuable experience and skills related to a role you’re applying for. It’s good practice to review your CV for each role you’re applying for and adapt some of the details in relation to the specific role.

Common mistakes that contribute to a lengthy CV include;

  • Too much detail about jobs earlier in your career, although you should note this experience of course, your more recent roles should have the most detail in terms of duties, responsibilities, and achievements.
  • In similar level jobs the same skill set and duties are listed for ease – instead of this try to include a variety of key achievements in each role.
  • Avoid listing every module studied in your professional studies – For example: rather than listing each GCSE subject you studied you can write: 10 GCSE’s obtained, grades A – C including Maths and English.

“Do I need to include details of my referee’s on my CV?”

Whether you are applying for a job directly or through a third party such as a recruitment agency its commonly recognised that details of referee’s can be requested from the applicants. There is no need to include details of referees at the end of your CV. 

“Should my CV include my photograph?”

Even though we live in the modern day of social media such as Instagram and LinkedIn which gives access to someone’s photo at a lick of button it is widely uncommon in many professional industries such as HR, IT and Finance to include a photograph on your CV although some industries may in fact welcome this.  If you are applying via a recruitment consultancy you may want to check with them.

Should my work history be the first thing on my CV?”

There really is no one size fits all with regards to the order you should write your CV in, our advice would be to think about what is most relevant to the role, and start with that.

For example an applicant applying for a role that requires a specific qualification will want to highlight their education/qualification at the start of their CV, whereas another who is applying for a role where practical experience is more relevant will want to first include there practical work history and will put education & qualification at the end of their CV.

If you would like further advice on CVs, applications or interviews, please get in touch with the team on
020 7198 6000 or email and we will be happy to assist you.