How to write a great CV

tips for writing a great cv

So, you’ve made the decision (or a decision has been made for you!) that it is time to look for a new job. One of the first things you’ll probably do is dust off the old CV and simply add on a new section covering your latest job.

This may work but you need to be mindful that CV writing style changes and adapts over time so a suggestion I’d have is temperature check format with a few recruiters and it may be necessary to completely start again.

Having been in recruitment for over 20 years I’ve seen styles change, the number of pages that are acceptable go from 2 to 1 to 3 to 5 to 2 to 1 and then all the way back again.

Prepare your CV for the role in question

Getting your CV right for the role you are applying for is important but here’s the kicker – everyone has different likes and dislikes when they open up that document. Key for you to keep in mind is that it is widely accepted that most line managers, recruiters and HR professionals spend around 6-8 seconds looking at a CV so it is imperative that key information is where the eye of the reader is naturally drawn to.

More information on what recruiters look on this can be found here.

Personally, the length of the CV has never a bugbear of mine but making sure that the layout highlights relevant details early on and that the formatting is clear, professional and easy to absorb is much more important. A few quick searches on the internet show that most people are in favour of:

CV Header with Contact Information

Some people are reluctant to put full address details on due to concerns around identify theft – I fully understand that and if you fall in to that camp then not a problem, I would however try to include town or part of a postcode. Most recruiters do radius searches when looking for people for a role so if there isn’t a way of even approximating where you are then you’re unlikely to come up as a potential match. NB – as there are more work from home roles coming through as society changes then this may change but for now, it is important.

Personal Profile with CV Objective and / or Summary

Be careful here – too much detail on what you want could be a problem. If you state, I’m looking for an IT Support role within the Pharmaceutical Industry in Hampshire and then you’re applying for a job in Dorset for Retail company then that won’t go down too well. Summarise key information about you and why someone should hire you.

Key skills

Technical – demonstrate here what products and technologies you have knowledge of. Bullet points are fine if there is the detail that backs this up in the work experience section.

Work Experience

Reverse chronological order is key.

Bullet points is fine

Focus on achievements and outcomes – i.e. what did you achieve in your role. Try and avoid “we” and focus on what you did.

Cover the relevant technologies and projects to demonstrate expertise.


Basic details here – unless you’re a newly qualified graduate (in which case it may also be more relevant to add this above the work experience section)

Additional Information

Security clearance, hobbies, interests, charity work etc are all things that could be listed here. Please note – everyone in the UK is a keen badminton player, swimmer and karate expert so we can just take that for granted! Something that is relevant to your application would help – i.e. if you do lots of volunteer work in the care sector and you’re applying for a job in that then it could be relevant although stating you won the Champions League with Leeds Utd in Football Manager may not quite land you that dream job…

Examples and Templates

There are some great templates and formats readily available and generally free, here are a couple of sites you could try:

There’s also loads of ideas on social media sites like Pinterest. One thing I’ve seen writing this and doing a bit of research is that there are lots of advice blogs out there and the one thing that is consistent is that everyone does have a different view (the blog on the Independent say right at the top to make sure you stick to 2 pages!) so you’re trying to appeal to the masses – you can’t get something that everyone is going to love!

Contact JLA Resourcing for advice

I hope this helps and if you do want further advice or a quick run through of your CV then feel free to reach out to us. We are an IT recruitment company based in in Southampton with a wide range of roles across the South.

Picture of Ben Leeds
Ben Leeds
With over 20 years’ in the recruitment industry Ben has seen quite a bit and hopes that by sharing some thoughts he can help you to either hire the best person or find the right job!
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