Career Coaching – Starting with your CV

What does your CV say about you?

What is the FOCUS of your CV – and is it the one you want to put forward?

I know people who hid their key skills and qualifications in the second page at the bottom, amongst a lot of lists!   Why? ‘Not relevant to the jobs I’m going to get’ or can get now…

Still, the achievement of that one qualification in art (degree for example) demonstrates

·         Your commitment to a course

·         Your values and aims

·         Your abilities and even flexibility!

You never know who might just need that, see it and relate to it and build the rapport required to get a job, or find a job you’d love but the employer scans the CV and misses that key point!

So highlight it!

Think about when you need to read a lot of information – from a lot of people – and decide what is relevant to you.   The recruiter needs to do the same and they need to see who MIGHT meet their criteria quickly and easily.

·      Highlight in bold or CAPITALS

·      Colour (keep colour subtle rather than garish or hard to see on white!)

·      Bullet points with key points they can pick out to read more about …


Well, that depends on the role you’re applying for and using it to gain.   Each role is unique even if it’s in the same line of work and your CV should be tweaked accordingly for each and every job if possible.   It should also have an individually written/tweaked covering letter to accompany it unless specifically required not to include one (on occasion and always when you apply online application processes).

Applying using a CV – a Curriculum Vitae which should be the heading for yours too – means checking that you:

(a) Have the appropriate qualifications

(b) Have appropriate skills and experience

(c) Identify any additional and helpful training or experiences you have to add value here

(d) Cover any gaps need to be commented on and covered adequately to express your ability to be able to do it with training and support e.g. specific systems that will be used can be learned

(e) Ensure Essential Criteria in the Person Specification is met by you but on occasion can be learned and developed other than qualifications you don’t have

(f) Highlight any Desirable criteria if you have them in hand or similar, or even better than – e.g. relatively easily attained on the job or before taking the post e.g. in training already

A Functional CV

This is a CV where your initial role was different to this one and yet you have transferrable skills to bring to this new role or career.   Perhaps you’re an older applicant with different qualifications but relevant to the job.

This is about highlighting what you have that may not fit with today’s job market requests and requirements but you could do the work.

It focuses more on skills, relevant qualifications and experience than on the step by step up the ladder to where you want to go next – a new company, the promotion ladder, moving area where the step to this role is clear cut and forward moving.

Sometimes, life has taken you off track for a job and this can be a good thing if you promote it correctly and the employer wants the initiative and experience that you bring with you.  However, not all employers are forward thinkers or out-of-the-box believers.

Personal Achievements – Skills & Experience – Additional Training can be additional or replacement headings here.

Employment History might be off-putting (too long in the past, too many of the wrong roles) and this need not be included here if so, but key ones need to be highlighted or put several similar roles together in periods:

Sales roles in The Company between August 2000-2003 – Key duties include …

Sales Manager September 2003 – April 2006 – Key duties:

Project ‘Alter’ Manager March-April 2005 – Key responsibilities were…


The Standard CV

A standard CV headings and content should run along these lines

Personal Details – Under the CV heading at the top of page 1

·      Name, Address, Contact Telephone, e-mail


Personal Summary

Covering what you are looking for, what you have to offer in brief and what you can bring to the new job/company.


These are formal qualifications – exam results, professional and certified achievements and level of education e.g. level 1 entry to level 6 and above degrees.


Any courses in and out of work that could help show you’re willingness to learn, improved your knowledge and skills and things you wouldn’t otherwise bring to their job and company. Can show commitment, variety, interests and direction

Key Skills & Experience


·      Natural talents and tendencies – organised, eye for detail, conscientious

·      Developed skills such as writing content, building relationships or project management


·      Sectors you’ve worked in – public, private, third

·      Clients and customer care you’ve proved yourself in or enjoy

·      Drive and focus perhaps

·      Leadership qualities

·      Personal achievements in other roles – projects, increasing outcomes

Employment History

Start with the latest and work backwards down the page.

Include month & year from and to if you can;

Company name and minimal address unless relevant;

Role title and two lines maximum of key tasks and responsibilities

Change the order for company as the heading – dates at the end of the line (from/to)

Key duties underneath or running on from the title …

Bear in mind what the role involves but most will want some initiative, self-motivation, team working and independent working in part for most roles and projects.

Hobbies & Interests

Breaks up the facts and figures, gives employers an idea who you are outside of work too and what you could bring additionally to the role.  This can also be a talking point to build rapport in the interview if they know something on it or know nothing, or it’s ‘different’


For past jobs where your previous boss will be happy to provide a reference, include it.  If not, and you need to check each time, or you’re still employed say “Available on request”



Practical CV writing service available on request from £15 from Clear Mind

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