CV Preparation

The importance of the CV in the whole process of finding a new opportunity cannot be underestimated, it is the key that opens the door.

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CV Styles: Performance vs Functional

CV Guidance: What makes a good CV

CV Guidance: Once you have written your CV

Guidence on Cover Notes

The information included on this page gives instructions on preparing, structuring and designing an effective CV, giving examples of the different styles and formats that can be utilised to create the finished document. At Harrison Scott we receive hundreds of CVs and so each consultant is excellently placed to offer tailored advice using our experience and knowledge of what works well.

Please contact your relevant consultant to discuss this in more detail.

A CV being read at a job interview
CV Styles: Performance vs Functional
Performance CV
  • Job titles and names strongly emphasised
  • Most common type of CV, has superseded the Chronological CV
  • Important information first
  • Staying in the same type of position
  • Wanting to show off promotions etc
  • If the name of your last employer is prestigious
  • Easy and straightforward to see who you have worked for and what you have done
  • Planning a change in career
  • If you have had a number of jobs recently
  • If work history has been patchy
  • If you do not have many achievements, or they have been in a different field, this section
    can be left out (as in a traditional chronological CV) or incorporated in the Career History section
Functional CV
  • Highlights whole career rather than most recent history
  • Job titles/Company names given less importance or even omitted
  • If you need to emphasise abilities and achievements that have not been used in your most current position
  • If you are changing career path
  • If you have had a number of jobs and you want to describe your experience more generally
  • If you want to include unpaid work
  • If your work history has been patchy
  • If you need to highlight promotions, not as prominent
  • Employer's name is not on the first page
  • If your job has a limited amount of functions
  • Unusual format, may not be liked by everyone
CV Guidance: What makes a good CV
Good CV
  • No more than two pages long
  • Not cluttered, clear sections, use of font italics and bold, remember first impressions last and make the important things stand out
  • Accurate and appealing personal statement balance between selling and going too far, 5-10 lines
  • Always be truthful
  • Keep it relevant with the most important information first
  • Achievements, try to back them up with facts and figures
  • Use of language - saved, increased, improved, solved
  • Don't waste space with Education details - just the facts, school addresses are largely irrelevant
  • Always put references or refer to them
  • Employers are looking for real people - not robots
Bad CV
  • Salary details
  • Appearance - borders, shading etc
  • Photos unless model, actor or cabin crew
  • Cliches - career objectives, most people use them, it is more the people that don't that get noticed
  • Don't use Wizards, they all look the same
  • Maintain style and tense
  • Too many hobbies, time consuming hobbies, ambitions travelling etc
  • Don't use I all the time, in CVs it is assumed
CV Guidance: Once you have written your CV
  • Spellcheck, proof-read (PC spellchecks don't get everything) and then get someone else to proof-read it and then read it out loud
  • Ask questions when reading it:
    1. Is this something that someone at my level would write?
    2. Does it explain what I do?
    3. Do I sound pompous or long winded?
    4. Is it me on the personal profile? Look at appraisals and references to check what people view your strengths to be, these can often be different to what we think they are.
    5. Clarity, does it flow and read easily?
    6. Is it relevant?
  • Check for jargon, slang and abbreviations
  • Can you back up your achievements, you are more than likely to be asked about your CV during interview, make sure you know it
  • Accomplishments, no one else will blow your trumpet, make sure that you sell yourself
  • Is it positive - try not to use negative words anywhere
  • Is it accurate - check dates, no need to write day, just month and year
  • Check the fundamentals, is the strongest point first, can you split an achievement up further
Guidence on Cover Notes

We advise candidates to always enclose a highly tailored cover letter. It is important to focus on quality not quantity as recruitment companies can tell who is playing the numbers game by receipt of CV. Many recruiters read the cover note before opening the CV so a personalised introduction instantly forms a good impression.

Candidates are more likely to achieve a positive outcome sending 10 CVs with highly tailored cover letters (ensuring you address the person by their first name and include a unique opening paragraph) rather than sending 100 CVs with 'To Whom It May Concern / Dear Sir/Madam' (an obviously ‘copied and pasted’ generic note).

Please note that we are not saying that producing a good cover letter will secure you an interview when your CV is not a match for the vacancy, however if the recruiter/employer felt your CV was borderline, a tailored cover note could be the thing that swings in your favour.