How to write a perfect, winning CV!

Simon RoderickJobseeking and interview process, Resources for candidates

How to write a good CV

A refresher before the looming hiring bonanza.

The reality is a perfect CV doesn’t exist. If you ask ten experts on how to write a perfect CV, you will get ten answers and sometimes you meet candidates who have perhaps struggled to find a job, who’ve written an enormous amount of CVs. Having a couple of versions can be good, as it’s always good to tailor your CV to a role, but having ten versions (and some have more) I’m afraid doesn’t help. If you find yourself in that situation, your time is best spent understanding the skills you have and who would need them the most. However, there are some general rules and guiding principles I think people should follow when writing a CV. An experienced headhunter or recruiter can help you and certainly most would be happy to review a CV you’ve produced.

Reverse Chronological Order!

That means putting your most recent role at the top. Hirers are most interested in what you’ve done recently – particularly as your career develops.


Be accurate! A survey from Checkster, a reference checking company, shows that 78% of candidates who applied for a role admitted to misrepresenting themselves. A small error or inaccuracy can cost you the role and often the thing you worry about wouldn’t have stopped you getting the job anyway. It’s very rare for financial services professionals to lie in my experience – very. They understand that references will be taken and grades verified, but it’s worth stressing the need for accuracy.

My personal preference is to see education near the top of a CV, as it gives the hirer a basis for reading the application, but of course there’s nothing wrong with it being near the bottom. My preference for what I find easier is a good example of differing opinions.

A small description for each employer is useful

Most firms aren’t as well-known as Goldman Sachs.

What have YOU achieved

What employers are trying to always work out in an interview is what they are getting for their money. It’s quite a crude way to put it, but it’s true. They don’t want to hire the worst person from the best firm. They want to hire people who have added value to an organisation and who can add value to their business. Therefore, you must quantify your achievements and they often boil down to time, money, or peace of mind. Improving a process to save time, making or saving money, or making a business more compliant or robust. You MUST quantify these achievements. A £1 million saving would be material for a small firm, but only a rounding error for Apple.

Legislation, products, geography….be specific

People hire experts. Your specific knowledge of relevant legislation, a product, and/or geography sets you apart and must highlight any specialist knowledge you have in these areas.

Length of CV

Long CVs don’t impress anybody. Actually they can show the hirer that you struggle to summarise situations into a concise format. So, I’d try and limit your CV to two pages. This can be hard when you’ve been working for 20 years+ like me. However, you need to focus on the most recent roles, as this will be why people hire you.

Ask for help!

As mentioned, most reputable recruiters will be willing to give a view on your CV. They may not have time to write one for you and for reasons I mentioned around accuracy I wouldn’t recommend this anyway. However, one of the reasons you work with a recruiter is to increase your chances of getting your dream role and good advice around your CV can really make difference.

We feel that once restrictions are lifted there will be a hiring bonanza, as individuals evaluate what they want from their careers. It could be a great time and you need to be prepared for it.

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