How to write a great CV

Celtic Careers is delighted that our associate in Enable Me Coaching, Ted Walsh partners with us on our blog post this week. Your CV is a personal marketing document which, when crafted with care, can make a difference to your job search success. Buckle up and pay attention to this invaluable information on “How to Write a Perfect CV” – one that stands out and gets you that all important interview.


What answer do you get when you ask yourself the following questions?

Is my CV working for me?

Why am I not being called for interviews?

Maybe your CV is not selling you as well as it could. The following blog will set you on the right path to building a CV that gets you noticed.

Purpose of your CV

Your CV has one purpose only and that is to get you an interview with a prospective employer. An employer essentially is looking for 2 things when they are seeking a candidate to fill a role:

1. Can you solve my problem (do you have the skills and competencies to do the job)?

2. Will you fit into the team, company or organisation?

Your CV gives the employer the first opportunity to assess those two questions.

The initial review by an employer

CVs these days are often read initially by applicant tracking software (ATS) or scanned by a human to determine if you are a potential candidate worthy of further evaluation before deciding on calling you for an interview. The “initial screen” by a human is typically less than 1 minute long!!! (normally less than 30 seconds!!!!).

It is a must then that you provide the key information to the screener or the ATS that gets your CV onto the “maybe” pile.

The first step in this is ensuring your CV has a profile or summary section that links to the key requirements of the job spec you are applying for.

Let’s say a job spec specifies “ideal candidate must have A, B, C, D.”

Then you need to include reference to A, B, C, D in the profile if you can legitimately claim that you have those skills.

Your CV, ideally, is tailored for the job you are applying for.

This is possible when applying directly to an employer. If you are working with a recruitment consultant you can identify the type of role you are targeting, you can identify the skills that are typically looked for in that type of role by researching job specs on line and then you can add the most common ones to your CV profile. A good recruitment consultant will take you through this to ensure that your skills and qualifications, which are relevant for the job, are easily visible to the employer.

CV Structure

In my experience the most effective CVs have the following structure:

1. Contact info

2. Target role

3. Profile section

4. Key skills section

5. Work experience

6. Education and training

7. Hobbies and interests (optional)

(1 to 4 as a minimum go in the hot zone in the CV. i.e. the 1st half of the 1st page of your CV!)

(There is a format that I recommend for ALL these sections, but that is a much longer blog post!)

The SO What factor!

When writing your work experience you need to WOW the reader.

For each role give a few lines on what the job entails. You then need to include your key accomplishments in these roles.

This is the SO WHAT factor. This is what makes you stand out from the crowd. This is the WOW!


8 tips for writing a CV that stands out from the crowd

1. A CV should be tailored to the job specification and not be a one size fits all

2. Make sure your CV is compatible with ATS (applicant tracking software)

3. Keep your CV to two pages (for more senior positions this may extend to 3 pages or more)

4. Maximize key info in “Hot Zone”.

5. “Results” make your CV stand out.

6. Use an easily readable “easy on the eye” font.

7. Write profile section last.

8. Have someone “proof-read” your CV for errors.

9. Don’t use graphics or tables in your CV unless required for a particular job.


If you have found this information useful and would like more information on how to build and format each section of your CV, why not take our short course entitled “How to build a standout CV”?

When you take the course, you will receive: –

· A CV template that works!

· Review of your CV and feedback on where it can be improved.

More about Ted Walsh

Ted Walsh is a Business and Career Coach. As a Business Coach, he works with companies providing a range of services from individual coaching to group training and facilitation.

As a Career Coach he works with people who are seeking work, looking to progress in their careers or make a career change. He helps candidates prepare for interviews including competency-based interviews. He works with businesses to deliver career development workshops to enable employees to grow and facilitate employee retention. He coaches interview teams on competency-based interviewing skills and consults and supports companies on their interview panels.

Ted is an ACC credentialed coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF).