The only CV writing guide you’ll need

The CV stage is the make or break of your application. Eye tracking studies have revealed that hiring managers only look at each resume for an average of 5-7 seconds, so it is vital to get this right!

Our experts here at Mason and Dale have created a short guide to crafting your stand-out CV. We also offer our candidates tailored resume feedback and mentoring – do not hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance. 


Visual appeal is a major factor in how long a recruiter will spend reviewing your application. The layout should be clear, with concise subheadings to separate each section and no large bodies of text.

The desired format will differ depending on the role – for creative positions it could be appropriate to use colour and images to demonstrate your artistic flair, but for most roles a more traditional layout is advisable. It is best to use a standard font (e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial) to ensure there are no issues with reading your resume, and an 11 or 12 point font size for the main body of text. Another point to note is not to format your entire CV in capital letters – this is not visually appealing, and capitals should only be used to highlight key headings.

One or two pages? This really depends on your career history and experience. The point of the CV is to adequately summarise all your experience and qualities – if you can do so in one page great, but it is also okay to hit two pages if required. The main point is that every word in your resume should have a purpose – demonstrating why you are the ideal candidate for the role. Do not add superfluous information just to fill up space as this will just distract from the key points you are trying to get across.

A sensible format is:

  • Name and contact information in the header (mobile number, email address, LinkedIn URL).

  • Short personal statement.
  • Employment
  • Academic qualifications (recent graduates may prefer to put this before the employment section).
  • Optional: Personal interests.

Personal Statement

As this is the first (and often only!) thing employers read, it is important to put your best foot forward. The key to the initial profile section is to demonstrate your star qualities and career goals – a brief summary of what makes you different from other candidates.

 It is best to alter this for each application you make, especially if you are applying for positions in different sectors. For example, the qualities to highlight for a sales role would differ from that of an administrative position so it is important to create tailored CVs for both.

Additionally, if you have standout skills like speaking multiple languages, or knowledge of IT Softwares required for the role it is also best to highlight these here rather than at the end of the CV which could go unnoticed!

Employment History:

This section should be in reverse chronological order – starting with your most recent position, always including dates (mm/year) of employment, and state if this was a contract or temporary position.

You should include a short summary of the business; what they do and in what industry. Next, outline your key responsibilities and achievements, and ensure you include the transferable skills you developed in this role – these should be personalised to the job description of each position you are applying for. It can be helpful to keep your CV updated even whilst you are not actively seeking new roles so that you do not forget to include key duties or awards especially if you plan to stay in the role for a while.

A key point is to quantify – show specific examples of how you improved the business. For example, writing ‘improved customer feedback by 37% in the first quarter’ looks better with the addition of the specific figures. Don’t leave employers asking questions like “Okay, but by how much?”.

Academic Qualifications

This section is fairly self-explanatory, but make sure to highlight your academic achievements! Include grades, dates, and the educational establishment you achieved these through.                          

Personal Interests

It is advisable to only include these if your interests demonstrate transferable skills relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, sporting achievements express a competitive streak which might be desirable if applying for a sales role.

Again, everything in your CV should be adding to your application rather than detracting attention to what really matters. If in doubt, leave it out!

In summary, the trick to writing a good resume is that the recruiter should be able to look through their job description and tick off how you are able to meet each requirement. This is achieved both through the actual text, and an accessible, professional layout.

Finally, always proofread– competition is fierce, so don’t let your CV get discarded over a minor grammatical or spelling error!

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