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How to write an attention-grabbing CV in 7 easy steps

Take the pain out of CV writing

That dreaded time has arrived to write or update your CV. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t relish the idea of writing about yourself, your skills, and career achievements. 

Well, don’t worry.  In this article, we'll break down the CV into manageable sections, advising on layout and encouraging you to think about each part slightly differently.  

Read on to find out how to focus your writing on what’s unique about you and how you can get a hiring manager to stop in their tracks! 

1. The one-page mindset 

First and foremost, adopt a one-page mindset. Your CV could be four pages long, but if a hiring manager only reads the first page, what impression of you will they have? That first page is the prime real estate. Make it count. In this instance, shorter is definitely sweeter. 

2. Influence from the very beginning

Including a title under your name like Marketing Leader, Senior Digital Transformation Professional or Communications Specialist immediately influences a hiring manager. They’re thinking, OK, Mark is a Marketing Leader and that’s what I’m looking for. It's a very simple win but an important start. If the first time you write what you do comes halfway down the first page, then it might just be a little too late.

3. A powerful opening summary 

Don’t let this be the place where you just reel off your experience and a never-ending list of skills and attributes. This doesn’t differentiate you. Think about your softer skills too. What makes you a great team player, the working environments that leave you feeling engaged and energised, etc.

Particularly with senior hires where you’re influencing several people, hiring managers will want to know more about your workplace attitude, what motivates you and how you deliver, over a list of skills they probably expect from you already.  

4. Key career achievements 

A critical section allowing you to share some of the biggest achievements in your career to date. I like to call these WOW moments. Some will break their role down into 5 key areas (strategy, people management, leadership etc.) and share an achievement against each one, whereas others will just go for the best of the best regardless. There is no right or wrong. Just think about the challenge you were faced with, the solution you put in place and the outcome. Outcomes are key!

5. Career history

Keep this simple. You do not know who is reading your CV at the other end. You should be able to clearly follow titles and the organisations that you’ve worked with on one side of the page, and a timeline down the other side.

Next up, make sure you deliver a one-liner explaining who your company is and what they do. Whilst you might know and love your company, not everyone else does, yet.

Now onto what you’ve achieved. Whilst sharing all the responsibilities you’ve been delivering on is important, these become less important when you start to take on more responsibility. The focus then shifts to what you’ve achieved. You need to focus on tangible outcomes here. These examples, where you’ve had great success with your delivery, fill a potential employer with the confidence that you are the right person for the role and that you're worth the investment.

6. Core competencies, professional development & education

Core competency examples might start with analytical thinking, client service, creative thinking, decision making, stakeholder management, leadership, etc. Continual professional development can be included as part of your education section and an example of this would be attending and completing the Google Squared Online course for digital marketing. And education, that’s wherever you’ve had the opportunity to study prior to and during your career. This section is typically defined by schools and universities.  

7. And finally, your interests

Sharing what you like to do outside of the workplace is the ultimate icebreaker and an easy opportunity to drum up some often much-needed rapport at the start of an interview. It also acts as an early indicator for the hiring manager on cultural fit. 

We hope this acts as a helpful guide to building a persuasive, powerful and focused CV. Read this oldie but goodie if you want more tips on how to improve your CV

If you’re looking for your next career move or for new talent to join your team, please do drop me a message through the form below. 

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Author: Mark Burrett

Associate Director of the Marketing practice at Hanson Search. With 10 years of combined experience across sales, marketing and recruitment, Mark brings real industry insights into the hiring process and of the skills required to be successful.

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