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How to Write a Perfect CV/Resume in English | Business English

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

This is a first blog of many where I will be focusing not only on how to write you CV or résumé (as it is often referred to in the USA) but also about how to get a job, how to keep a job and progress in your career. Writing a CV in your native language can be a difficult task but writing one in English can seem impossible. Hopefully this blog will help you understand what your CV needs to have and how it needs to look like which should ultimately lead to employment you deserve to have.

What does a recruiter want from a CV? It is important to note that a CV does not get you a job, a CV actually gets you a job interview. So it is important to know what to include in it. Most people want to include everything they have ever done and achieved, however, it is often better to priorities and highlight relevant information. Make sure it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

It is claimed that employers spend on average 7 seconds looking at your CV, so please bear this in mind when you are writing a CV and try to look at it from an employer's perspective. You have 7 seconds to make the positive impact.

Some of the first things that will jump out of your CVs is grammar and spelling mistakes. I have revieved many CVs throughout my career and as soon as I see grammar or spelling mistakes my mind was made up. There is absolutely no excuse for any mistakes on your CV, you need to double, triple check your draft CV and ask someone else to proof read it for you. Especially if you feel tired because you had to look at it so many times. You are very likely to miss a word or two. You can even find professional proof readers online just to make sure. Especially, if you struggle with English spelling and English in general, think of it as an investment in your future.

The next important element of your CV is of course skills and experience and they have to be relevant skills and experience to the job you are applying for. Recruiters will be very likely scanning and skim reading your CV rather than reading everything on it.

Recruiters will also try to get a flavour as to what kind of a person you are and your character. You cannot put too much but you need to find a good way to demonstrate your personality and show off your character that will encourage recruiters to call you and arrange for an interview.

You may be asking now so what types of CVs there are and what my CV should look like. You have two types of CVs, a chronological CV and skills based CV. There are some other types as well that I mention below.

It is important to choose the one that is most appropriate for you, your personal situation and jobs you are applying for. I would also like to add if you are applying to the UK organisations, there is no need to have your photographs on your CV, no need to add your date of birth, no need to add your gender and no need to add your full address (just a name, phone number, email and city/country will do). You are not required to do it. It will most likely add extra space on your CV and make it longer than it needs to be. Diversity and Inclusion is quite big in the UK and most large organisation even do blind CV sifting these days. This means all of your personal data will be removed, including even your name and recruiters/hiring managers will only be able to review your CV based on your experience, skills and knowledge and shortlist CVs on this basis. This is to reduce any unconscious bias in the selection process. If you do not know what unconscious bias is, you can find more information HERE.

You may have also heard of Ernst and Young (E&Y) organisation. They are a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom. EY is one of the largest professional services firms in the world. Along with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY is considered one of the Big Four accounting firm. They have taken their selection process to another level. They have decided to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process which has proved successful in diversifying the company’s workforce. You can find more information HERE.

Chronological CV lists your work experience in a chronological order starting from the most recent one. This is a good way to present your full work experience, especially if you want to show you have had no gaps in your employment. You can find an example HERE.

Skills Based or Functional CV shows your abilities and personal skills you have developed under each role you did. This is a good way to to mask any gaps in your employment or if you have had a lot of internships and short term employment. The best thing about this type of CV is that you can make it relevant to the job you are applying for. You can find an example of this CV HERE.

Alternatively, you can make a hybrid option of the two options above and combine them in one CV. This is my favourite CV type. My current CV combines both chronological and skills based CV where I also list a few key achievements under each role I have done to date. Without inserting key achievements, it may read just like a job advert with responsibilities you as a job holder needed to do. It almost begs the questions so what! A recruiter may want to find out about what you actually achieved in each role. This is where tailoring your CV to each job application is so important. More about tailoring your CV below.

Additionally, you can be quite creative and present your CV in a unique way and show off your design skills by using infographic as an example. Even Word Microsoft gives you some templates to use and there are many products out there that offer to present your CV in a one page document. I remember years ago, I came across a CV of Marissa Mayer, a Yahoo CEO, all in one page. You can see an example HERE.

You can also consider making a video CV, especially if you are going for customer services roles.

There is also an academic CV. These CVs are much longer where you have to list your education, research publications and experience to date. These recruiters will spend a bit more time on each CV making sure they are relevant.

Technical CVs also tend to be longer and detailed. This may be relevant to IT industries where you are applying for programming, system, modules and platforms roles. These recruiters are always after specific technical skillset and make sure they are evident on your CV.

Should I tailor my CV to each job application? Absolutely, YES. I suggest that you create a general template that you are happy with, then create additional versions for each role that you apply for. If you want your CV to stand out and be in the top 10% best CVs, then you should really do tailoring. You want a recruiter to see your CV and immedetialy put you in the 'to call list'. Yes, this is super time consuming and takes a lot of effort, however, it will pay off down the line. Looking and applying for jobs is a serious business on its own.

What should I do about gaps on my CV? Let's be honest, gaps are never good and most of the time a red flag that something might have gone wrong. However, your personal circumstances sometimes cannot help it but you can work around it. For example, you can add a summary statement to briefly and positively explain why you have gaps. It could be for example, “Voluntary work in a Charity Shop”, “Carer for a family member”, “Building a house extension”, “Travelling across Europe”, "Changing Career" etc.

Be prepared to talk about your CV during your job interview and make sure you are ready to answer any questions about it. I always find it helpful when I have it printed off in front me at a job interview to ensure I do not miss relevant information. You are not supposed to learn it by heart and remember that a job interview is not a memory test. Therefore, it is ok to have a copy of it in front of you so can refer to it as you speak about it.

I have also published a blog on How to Nail a Job Interview | How to Do Competency Based Interviews which can be found HERE.

Make sure you also never lie on your CV or during your job interview. Your prospective employers are very likely to ask for references (most likely they will want your last 3-5 years) and you may get caught red handed which will ultimately lead in any job offer being withdrawn. Honesty is the best policy believe me!

How many pages should my CV have? It is always best to have 2 pages only, if you can create a one page CV even better. Technical or academic CVs are very likely to have a lot more pages but recruiters in these industries will normally expect to see this.

Finally, make sure you save a copy of your CV in a Word document (.doc .docx format) unless another version is requested by a recruiter or hiring organisation. This is to ensure your CV passes an ATS - applicant tracking system - assessment. In terms of word size, I suggest 10/11 and Arial is always good.

I have also seen many recruitment systems enabling you to download your LinkedIn CV, which is great as it saves you time retyping. However, please also manually double check it so you are happy with what has been dowloaded and how it is presented as it may have errors.

Some recruitment systems may not even accept CVs. They will normally place this in a visible area and ask you to complete an application form electronically. For example, NHS (National Health Services) in the UK do not accept CVs and their recruitment system will encourage you to complete an application manually.

I hope this blog helps you, more to follow around this topic. I also offer a range of Upgrade Yourself | Personal Development 1:1 services/programs one of which is to review and draft your CV together and start preparing you for upcoming interviews. You can find out more HERE.

If you have any questions, please sign up as a member/subscribe to my website below and/or send me an email on You can also find me on Instagram at @yourself.focus, Facebook at @focusyourself.

Best wishes


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