How to write a CV: secrets of the professionals

How to write a CV: secrets of the professionals

Want to know how to write a top CV? We went straight to the experts to uncover the real secrets to producing a resume that stands out.

Do you worry that your CV might be letting you down?

Well fear not, because we asked six professional CV writers to share some advice for getting your application noticed by employers. 

So if you could use some CV writing tips, read on and find out what the experts say! 

Tip #1: Start strong 

Liam Barrell, freelance CV writer and copywriter

The job process is all about first impressions, and depending on what article you read, you have anything from one minute to six seconds to impress. 

Now you might think that your CV is that first impression, but in reality, it’s the first page that really counts.

So as Liam Barrell says, if candidates want to be in with a chance of landing an interview, they really need to get that first page right

The best way to do this is to keep it relevant, keep it focussed and keep it concise

We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but employers and recruiters want to quickly browse your CV, not take a magnifying glass to it. 

After all, they might only afford you six seconds of their time, so you really need to catch their attention from the first scan. 

Tip #2: Write for robots

Dave Smith, CV writer at Careervisa

Have you heard of applicant tracking systems (ATS) or keyword scanners? 

No? Well let us enlighten you, because chances are, this is where your CV will end up

When you submit a job application, your CV will usually find its way into an electronic database – otherwise known as an applicant tracking system. From here, it can be scanned for keywords that relate to the job you’ve applied for. 

The system will then rank your application according to suitability, based on the keywords you’ve matched with.

Now, if you’re not sure what keywords the recruiter will be looking for, use the job advert as your guide. If they’ve asked for specific skills or qualifications, try to mirror them verbatim.

As Dave Smith, CV writer at Careervisa, suggests, writing with keyword scanning software in mind, should boost your chances of getting an interview. 

If you haven’t been writing for robots, then this might just be the reason you haven’t heard back from the recruiter. 

Tip #3: Check, check and check again

Emma Millichamp, consultant at Solutions 4 Recruitment

It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by just how many people fail to proofread their CV before submitting. 

Around half of job applications are rejected because of poor spelling, so it really pays to rectify any mistakes before applying.  

Of course, it’s hard to proofread your own work, that’s why Emma Millichamp, recruitment consultant at Solutions 4 Recruitment, recommends having someone else read your CV for you. 

If you’re not willing to share your CV with anyone else, our tip is to print off a hard copy before proofreading. Things look different on paper to how they do on screen, so this really could help you pick out any silly mistakes. 

Tip #4: Don’t trust the spell checker

Lisa Harrison, founder of Brighter CV

Spell check really is a lifesaver, isn’t it? 


Spell check is good, but it needs a little common sense. While it might help you get ‘i’ and ‘e’ in the right order, Lisa Harrison, founder of Brighter CV, reminds us that there are some areas where it falls down.

For instance, homonyms (words that are spelt the same, but have different meanings). Improper use of there, their and they’re can easily escape detection, while advice and advise can also pose a problem. 

And what about erroneous repetition of words? Or misspelling proper nouns? 

This all takes us back to tip #3, because while spell check is a fantastic tool, it can never replace the human eye (for now at least). 

Tip #5: Break the mould

John Tompson, CV writer and career specialist at Recart

Despite what you might believe, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to writing a CV

The thing is, we all think we know what a CV looks like. 

Perhaps you learnt it at school? Or a parent helped you draft your very first job application? However you came across a formula, chances are, you’ve stuck with it ever since.

Well, John Tompson is encouraging us to think a bit differently. 

Your CV shouldn’t just be a time-ordered list of hyperbole, it should be an engaging advert that best sells you as a candidate

So if you’re still using large blocks of text littered with generic duties, ask yourself, does this really showcase what’s great about you?  

Tip #6: Back up successes with numbers 

Ian Viner, CV Writing UK

Think it’s enough to submit a list of duties and responsibilities? Try using actual figures to support your achievements.

Nothing stands out more on a CV than quantitative success

Did you increase sales by 20%? Improve online conversion rate by 10%? Or generate £100,000 of revenue?

Whatever you’ve achieved, using numbers shows recruiters and employers that you’re someone who makes a difference – something that Ian Viner from CV Writing UK is keen to tell us. 

Achievement-centric CVs are the ones that get interviews, so don’t be afraid to show off your strengths with figures!

Have any tips of your own?

CV writing might seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Our experts have given us six tips for producing a CV that will get you noticed, but is there something missing from the list?

If you have some advice that you think the experts overlooked, tweet us and let us know!