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Mark Shortall Founder

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CV Tips & Template

Some simple tips to help do yourself justice and a downloadable CV template.

Your experience of reviewing thousands of CVs doesn't make it any less painful when you need to update your own. It's everyone's least favourite task, but do yourself justice by spending more time here. You'll have 5-10 seconds to make a first impression, but it'll make your life much easier during the interview process as well. 

Here are some simple tips to help and a downloadable CV template below:

Easy on the eyes

It comes down to personal taste, but I follow some straightforward rules when tailoring the layout of a CV:

  • Two pages maximum. It's ok if you need more space, but you could likely cut back. Try to make it as compelling as possible and remove anything generic that's not highlighting your unique experience.
  • Clean layout, plenty of white space and no boxes. There are lots of flashy templates you could use, but I think you can't go wrong with a classic clean and simple design.
  • Use Calibri 11 font with minimal pops of colour to draw the reader's eye and frame each section. Italics, boldface, or uppercase letters should be used very sparingly. Don't be tempted to decrease the font size to squeeze your CV into two pages.
  • No photo or company logos. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile instead.
  • Opening elevator pitch. This should be no more than 3-4 lines to highlight your experience and why you're an obvious fit for the role you're applying for. The aim is to grab the reader’s attention to continue reading so avoid generic descriptive words like “Highly motivated, dynamic”. Take a look at the key requirements section in the job advert and try to answer these points in your opening statement.

Concise content

The biggest mistake is to list bullet points that read like a job description. Be ruthless with your editing. If it's not impactful, cut it out. The content should be achievement-led and unique to you. You'll have 45 - 60 minutes in an interview to talk through your examples, so the bullet points are just conversation starters. Cut the daily responsibilities that are assumed in your role and use this space to demonstrate tangible achievements and the impact you've had. Be selective and highlight approximately five accomplishments to sell your experience. Try to quantify your achievements where possible to show you're fluent with data.

Set the scene

Ask yourself if the potential similarities in organisational structure and growth are crystal clear to the reviewer. Insert a line to describe your company if you're not working with a household brand. Include your reporting line and the size of the company/office/organisation/region you support.

Focus on your recent roles

Only give detailed achievements for your last few positions to save space. It’s unlikely that the older experience will be as relevant, so you can just list dates and titles.

Hobbies & Interests

Only include this section if your hobbies are genuinely interesting :) This is usually the last chance to impress on a CV, so don't close it out with generic interests like travelling and socialising with friends.

                  Attention to detial

This typo is intentional. If your CV is messy, the interviewer might assume your communication with stakeholders will be the same. Avoid typos and easy-to-fix formatting problems. Share it with friends or trusted colleagues to proofread and get their constructive feedback. Save a Word copy but send it as a PDF, and don't forget to fix the file title - MarkShortallCV2020(2) isn't ideal.

I'm hoping this advice is helpful, and here is a downloadable template to follow. If you're still struggling, feel free to send your CV to me, and I'll give honest feedback.

Download a CV template (.docx)