Welcome to this third module focusing on how to prepare and present your CV, your passport for generating interview, meetings and conversations

Tackle the module in bite size chunks, don’t feel the need to do everything in one go and allow plenty of time to digest and apply the information covered

The module includes helpful ‘Activities’ for you to complete, it is strongly recommended that you undertake them to get the most out of the content and the key learning points

Allow yourself time to reflect and take on board the advice, key messages and suggested tasks contained in the module to enable you to move your job campaign forward

This module will enable you to

  • Appreciate what the key purposes of a CV are

  • Understand what a good quality CV needs to contain

  • Differentiate your CV with achievements that resonate

  • Confidently and professionally draft and redraft your CV

  • Prepare other related documents efficiently and effectively

The key purposes of your CV are to

  • Generate interviews, meetings, conversations and other interactions

  • Differentiate yourself from the other applicants - to get you 'ahead of the pack'

  • Tell the reader – 'I did a great job for them and I can do a great job for you'

  • Raise your self awareness, self esteem and confidence in your employability​

  • Increase your understanding of your transferability across jobs and sectors

A good quality CV

  • Uses achievements not responsibilities  

  • Is clear, meaningful, relevant and concise  

  • Has the most important info as early as possible

  • Doesn’t use any 'I', 'my' and 'we' phrasing

  • Only uses jargon readers will know and expect

  • Is social media, email and online friendly 

Minimum content



  • Contact details

  • Social media links

  • Personal profile

  • Employment history

  • Achievements

  • Qualifications

  • Memberships

  • Education

  • Training




  • Two or three pages maximum



  • Specialist CVs can be longer



  • Simple uncluttered format



  • Bullet points and punchy

  • Good white space usage

  • Spelling and grammar checked    

Omit, unless requested

  • Photos or pictures

  • Reasons for leaving any job

  • Age or date of birth

  • Referees or testimonials    

  • Family or marital information    

  • Health/weight/height    

Not relevant to getting an interview and difficult to explain ‘on paper’, best explained and discussed face to face

2% of the population is photogenic, are you one of them?

It's superfluous info and, due to age discrimination legislation, some organisations disqualify CVs that include the info to protect themselves

If you have any related issues, they are best discussed verbally, if they ask about them

Irrelevant info that shouldn’t affect decision making either way

Leave until asked for them, then you can choose who you use and give them some advance warning and guidance

Optional, if congruent and relevant

  • Interests and hobbies    

  • Charity or NFP etc. activities    

  • Driving licence information   

A personal profile statement



  • Is circa 30 words long and appears at the beginning of the CV

  • Summarises the key attributes and experience you have to offer

  • Is your first impression – and you only get one chance to make it

  • Isn’t a compulsory feature, but many readers expect to see one

  • Some readers don’t like them so, for them, keep it short and sharp

The following are a couple of examples of effective profile statements

Reverse chronology CV

  • The most common and most traditional format

  • Starts with most recent role and works backwards

  • Emphasises most recent achievements and experiences

  • Particularly favoured by recruitment agencies

  • Good if seeking to stay in similar roles and sectors

Functional CV

  • Useful if trying to move to a different job and/or sector

  • Allows you to tailor the order of skills sets as you wish

  • Focusses on skills and achievements rather than roles

  • Enable career gaps to be de-emphasised

Academic/teaching/scientific/medical CV

  • Either above formats work, but reverse chronology is usually used

  • Usually longer than two pages and much more detailed

Lets take some time looking at some of the features and benefits of this type of CV

Punchy profile, lots of key words and not too long

Achievements answer the three ‘so what’ questions wherever possible

Provides at least two ways of being contacted

Most recent job first and then going backwards

Education and qualifications summarised

Relevant memberships included

Just the last ten years or so in detail

Older jobs summarised

In summary, the CV provides a clear picture of the abilities and in two punchy pages

More example CVs are available by CLICKING HERE

Contains the same info as the previous reverse chronology CV, but by function. Most useful for networking, consultancy and when trying to change sector. Least helpful with recruitment agencies and headhunters

Functional headings need to be tailored to the target roles being sought

Put the functional groups of achievements in their order of importance for the reader, most important first

De-emphasises job titles and sector experience, useful  if looking to change sector

As we saw in module 2,  the best achievements answer three ‘so what’ questions

  • ‘So what’ was the achievement

  • ‘So what’ success measure(s) did it generate

  • ‘So what’ skills and strengths of yours made it happen

It doesn’t matter in what order the three questions are answered, as long as they are

It does matter that

  • Automated online readers can identify key words and score you to the next stage

  • Human readers can quickly understand, recognise and value your three answers

Some related maths  there are six ways of ordering three ‘so what’ answers in a sentence

Let's have a look at real example to see how the six different ways work out in practice

The three ‘so what’ elements of an example achievement we are going to use are

THE ACHIEVEMENT – ‘successfully led and trained a sales team of 10

THE MEASURE – ‘exceeded annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years’     

THE SKILL(S)/STRENGTH(S) – ‘used excellent coaching and motivation skills’    

The six combinations of the three ‘so what’ answers could look something like this

Successfully led and trained a sales team of 10 to exceed annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years using excellent coaching and motivational skills

Successfully led and trained a sales team of 10 using excellent coaching and motivational skills to exceed annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years

Used excellent coaching and motivational skills to successfully lead and train a sales team of 10 to exceed annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years

Used excellent coaching and motivational skills to exceed annual sales target by 20%  over 3 consecutive years by successfully leading and training a sales team of 10

Exceeded annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years using excellent coaching and motivational skills to successfully lead and train a sales team of 10

Exceeded annual sales target by 20% over 3 consecutive years by successfully leading and training a sales team of 10 using excellent coaching and motivational skills

Achievement + Measure + Skills/Strengths

Achievement + Skills/Strengths + Measure

Skills/Strengths + Achievement + Measure

Skills/Strengths + Measure + Achievement

Measure + Skills/Strengths+ Achievement

Measure + Achievement +Skills/Strengths

As you can see, they can all work, it's simply a matter of deciding what works best for you

As you build more achievements you need to use all of the 6 different options for variety



The variety is needed for human readers, of course, not the automated online readers!

You might find it useful to print off the 'Word Bank' we looked at before by CLICKING HERE

Additional example CVs can be accessed by CLICKING HERE

You may find it useful to print off the 'Word Bank' by CLICKING HERE

One page bio – useful for network contacts, social media and LinkedIn



Personal website – particularly relevant if going self-employed or into consulting



Cover letters and emails often involve three key elements


  • Why you are writing – what has triggered your email or letter

  • What you want – the purpose of your email or letter

  • A call to action – the timely next steps for you and/or them

Application forms


  • Ensure you read them all the way through before starting to fill them in

  • Take a copy of it and fill in the copy before transposing your responses

  • Make sure you follow all of the stated instructions and requirements

  • Use your skills, strengths and achievements material as much as possible

How much tailoring of documents you should do for each job opportunity is a function of

  • How many different types of role you are actively pursuing

  • How different the requirements of each role are especially re skills/strengths/abilities 

  • How much time you have to undertake the tailoring of documents

  • Your appetite to keep track of all the various document versions you produce

  • The opportunity cost of tailoring in terms of other valuable activities not being done 

  • Your personal preferences and views on how best to conduct your campaign 

Lets have a look at each type of document and some general principles

  • Application forms

  • Every application should be individually tailored to the job description, the person specification and any other information to hand

  • As you complete more applications, you will gradually build a bank of reusable evidence that can be tweaked rather than written from scratch

  • Cover letters or emails

  • Every cover letter or email should be individually tailored to the circumstances of the job opportunity

  • Over time, you will develop a range of stock introductions and bullet points that can be honed or adjusted

  • CV profile

  • If you are pursuing only one specific type of role for which the same 'first impression', then one CV profile might well suffice 

  • If you are are pursing several distinctly different roles or opportunities across several quite diverse sectors, then tailoring of the CV profile may be appropriate

  • CV or bio content

  • Redrafting your CV or bio content for every job opportunity is highly time consuming so should only be done if there is a significant reason for doing so

  • A less time consuming tailoring route might be to look at re-ordering the achievements (or achievement groups) to best suit the specific job opportunity

  • Tailoring a functional CV can sometime be a lot easier than with a reverse chronology CV, if it is also the most appropriate format to use

This module has provided



  • An explanation of the key purposes of a good quality CV

  • Details of the key features and benefits of an effective CV

  • Information on the main CV formats and their appropriateness  

  • A framework to confidently draft and redraft your CV

  • Advice on professionally preparing other related documents

Congratulations on completing module three, a good quality CV is your passport to generating interviews

The next module will help with ensuring that, once your CV has got you to some job interviews, you are the best interviewee ‘in the room’, as well as being the best candidate

Go to the next module by CLICKING HERE

Go back to the Job Hunting main menu by CLICKING HERE