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Posted by
Mark Shortall Founder & Leadership Talent Partner

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CV Template

I know 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 slowing down and spending more time here before you start applying.

You're the product, and this is your ad. You have 5-10 seconds to make a strong first impression, but it'll also make your life much easier during the interview process as well. You can avoid giving unstructured, long-winded examples by spending more time reflecting on the impact you had and including it on your CV.

Here are some simple tips to help, along with a template guide you can download:

View CV Template (PDF)   Download CV Template (Word doc)

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 if you were more strict with your editing. Try to make it as compelling as possible and remove anything generic that's not highlighting your unique experience. Using ChatGPT is good for content inspiration, but don't outsource selling your experience to AI.
  • 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. If you want something flashy, use tools like Canva or Teal after you spend the time focusing on the content first.
  • 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, company logos or graphs rating your proficiency in something. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile instead.
  • The opening elevator pitch should be no more than 3-4 lines to highlight your experience and explain why you're an obvious fit for the role you're applying for. Think about how a tech company communicates. It's usually very concise, backed with data and conversational in tone. 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 are lifted straight from your job description. 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. Be ruthless with your editing. If it's not impactful, cut it out.

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 and inconsistent formatting is intentional :) If your own CV is messy, it's fair to assume your written communication with stakeholders will be the same. Avoid typos by using Grammarly and review easy-to-fix formatting problems. Share it with friends or a trusted colleague 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.