Stand out from the crowd: how to write a successful CV

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Writing a good CV is one of those things that, at least in appearance, look pretty simple. How difficult can it be to put together our education and work background in a clear way? Truth is, there is much more to it than this. Thanks to social media platforms like LinkedIn and dedicated job search websites, our CVs are now more visible than ever. This can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, CVs have become an even more powerful tool to attract a wider audience of potential employers; on the other, this wider visibility makes it even more crucial to get them absolutely right.

It is not enough anymore for your CV to showcase your skills and experience; it needs to make you stand out from the crowd. Why should an employer read your CV rather than one of the other hundreds available out there? This should be your starting point to build a professional profile centred on your strengths and specific areas of expertise that makes you different from the competition. There also are a few specific tips that help writing an engaging CV.

1. Keep it short

While it is important to include all the key details about your work background and education, you should not make your CV an endless list of achievements and dates. Anybody would lose interest after page one and most likely, would not make it to page three. This means that you should write it in a concise way and include the key information on the first page. Plus make sure that the whole document is no longer than 3 pages in total: if a potential employer wants to know more, you can always provide further information later on.

2. Tailor it to the role

Use your CV as a template and always tailor it to the specific role you are applying for. A potential employer is particularly interested in how your skills and expertise can be useful within his/her organisation. You need to show how what you learnt in previous roles can be applied and add value to that specific job.

3.  Show not only achievements but also enthusiasm

It goes without saying that you should include your career achievements but try to avoid dry lists of roles and skills. First of all, you should support the skills you mention with experience-based examples. Equally important is to make sure that you let potential employers see your commitment to the profession and your enthusiasm for what you do and for the opportunities that a new role might bring you.

4. Keep it up to date

It seems like a very obvious advice but your CV is a work in progress. Make sure that you update it timely, even when you are not actively looking for a new role. In particular, your LinkedIn profile should always include up-to-date information and work as a live document.

5. Pay attention to the details

Last but not least, your CV is your business card and the reflection of your professional profile. For this reason, once you get the content right, move your attention to the smaller details: make sure that it is clearly laid out, include a professional picture, use the right language and a positive tone and check for any spelling mistakes.


Find out more about starting / developing a career in project management

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Posted by Valentina Lorenzon on 27th Oct 2015

About the Author

Valentina owns her own business providing project management, consultancy and facilitation services. As an independent project manager and consultant she advises companies on strategic decisions, for example, the development of new products, markets and propositions. Valentina is experienced working with companies of all sizes across different sectors and has specialist expertise in supporting SMEs and family businesses. Valentina is a Committee Member of Women in Project Management SIG.

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