For professionals working in a new culture, it’s crucial that employers can easily grasp the value of your past experience to them and their company.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of terrible advice on the internet and some terrible ‘standard’ formats. The Europass CV template is the most common and probably the worst and most out-dated – it’s guaranteed to make HR Directors and Recruiters groan.
Below is a basic guide to writing a great English language CV. The key emphasis is on including commercially interesting information, to which a reader can relate in a tight format.
The most common mistake for professional changing the country where they work is that assume the reader has knowledge of other markets. It’s vital to state such basic things as what the company does, it’s size, it’s market position and what your rough position in the management structure was, budgets etc.
Profile: A basic intro to professional you: Change this according to each application. Aim for, 2-4 short, punchy sentences. No superlatives. Explain what job you want & why…
E.g. Bilingual, Masters Graduate seeking an Analyst role in Management Consulting. Don’t say. Outstanding and infectious personality driven to succeed towards my goal as Partner in your Management Consultancy
(most recent to longest ago)
Date What. E.g. Chartered Accountant (ICAS)
Anything notable? Specialism?
Repeat as necessary.
Date Where, Subject, Result. E.g. Bath University, History, 2:1
Anything notable? Scholarships, Prizes, Dissertation Subject
Date Which School, Where
A Levels: Subject (Result), Subject (Result) e.g. Physics (B)
A/S Level: Subject (Result),
GCSE’s: Summary of number of A’s, B’s, C’s etc.
Languages: Just here, only high levels of fluency
Technical Skills: A simple list of what your professional competencies. No adjectives. No prose.
Latest Company Name, Where When
What does the company do? Who were the clients? In which markets? What turnover? – Give the reader a chance to understand the business.
YOUR JOB TITLE
- Describe your core job. Using short sentences and paragraphs.
- Make it clear what you do, who you report to and who you work with (are you alone or one of ten doing this job? Give some specific numbers, budgets, costs – they assure the reader it’s grounded in fact.
- Use industry standard terminology, not internal. E.g. European Management Accounting not Strategic EUHO IT Cost Planning. You need to clear to a non-specialist reader.
- Avoid the first person. Say, Responsible for negotiating new sales with major supermarkets. Not,
I was negotiating new sales with supermarkets.
- Use some technical buzzwords it will help HR teams to establish if you are relevant to their recruitment problem. Mention the exact technical keywords of the spec where possible.
- Sell yourself in this section. Talk in the 1st person. You are trying to give evidence, not empty statements. Do say; I identified a new potential market. With management approval, I led a small project team and secured three new customers.
Don’t say, I’m a commercially astute person, able to spot opportunities and work with all stakeholders
- Avoid saying we did this. Your CV is about you. If you were one of team, say so and be prepared to identify your contribution, not just the collective achievement.
- Blow your trumpet. Make your achievements explicit & quantifiable
- Say what you learned & what challenged you
Previous Company, Where, When
What does the company do? For whom? In what markets? What turnover? Keep it short.
YOUR JOB TITLE
- With older / non-professional jobs, be very concise. But include them, as they are part of your history. Previous jobs can show you are self-reliant or understand the value of hard work. Not everyone can say that!
- CV’s are often built up over time- older sections are often written badly. Don’t say, utilised my
exceptional customer service skills, under pressure to deliver speedy cocktail distribution service. Do say, Enjoyable bar-work to help fund my Masters
Your Personal Interests:
- About sports, hobbies, interests. These are an ice-breaker at interview and indicate your personality. Write in short form, not prose. Steady on the clichés.
- Don’t be boring, reading newspapers & shopping aren’t hobbies
- Don’t stretch the truth. You might meet someone who knows the sport!
- If you led things or played a pro-active role, say so. It shows personality.
What else they need to know:
Contact Details: Email, Phone, Address
Nationality: plus clarification of any right to work / visa
Availability: how long is your notice period or other mitigating circumstances?
- If you have under 2 years of corporate experience, aim for a 1 page CV
- If you have under 6 years of corporate experience, aim for a 2 page CV
- Don’t include your earnings
- Don’t include a picture… if you wish to, make it small and black and white
- Don’t use font smaller that 11
- Don’t use funky text
- Don’t use colour
- Don’t use text boxes – they tend to confuse the database software recruitment teams use
- Don’t use complex language that shows just how smart you are
- Avoid skill based CV’s if possible – explain skills in the context of the jobs you’ve done.
Olivier Vidal is MD of Go.Show.Do
At Go.Show.Do we know that being great at your job doesn’t mean selling yourself is easy.
We personally coach ambitious professionals to tell their story to employers – online, on paper and at interviews.