CV Templates & Covering Letters

CV Writing Advice:
The pro-active approach to keeping your CV up to date….

Writing your CV can be a daunting task especially when starting from scratch and even more so when you’re under pressure to reach a deadline for an application. Trying to remember your key achievements in the past year can be hard enough never mind those from 10 years ago!

My advice has always been to keep a CV even when you are not looking for your next role. Spend a couple of hours brainstorming a draft. Once your brain has been engaged in having to think about what you have been doing, it seems to continue to work at it even if you are consciously not. Previous projects, achievements, skills, strengths will pop back in your head when you’re watching the kids at their swimming lesson or eating your dinner, which can then be added.

Schedule some time to review it and add to it at least on an annual basis but you may want to do it more often. A good time is after your annual performance review. You’ve just been talking about key achievements and have hopefully had some constructive feedback on your strengths, skills and next steps. Reviewing your CV at this time can also help you think about what you want to achieve in the next year in order to expand your skills and experiences and hence what you want in your development plan.

Following this process gives you a solid draft to start from when an interesting role pops up. Reading it will give you the confidence you may need to apply and also remove that pit of the stomach feeling about having to pull together your career history in one evening!

When writing your CV here’s some nuggets of advice:

Use a summary at the top of the first page with specific achievements to draw in the reader

Keep it specific and to the point – most of the time a 2 page CV is ample – unless you have been asked for a technical CV or you are in an executive role

Research indicates that the most read part of the CV is halfway down the first page so this is a good place to put the juiciest part of your career and the key things you want the reader to see about you

Remember that this is your marketing tool – you need to sell yourself that inspires a recruiter to call you for first interview. You don’t need to include everything you have ever done and achieved but enough to attract others to want to meet you in person (when you can really sell yourself!)

Be clear about what you achieved with specific examples. It should not be a list of your responsibilities but a summary of your key achievements in each role. Use budgets, targets, profit figures, team size, promotions, turnaround projects and specific actions YOU took to determine successful performance

Use positive language and tone – use words that will help highlight your achievements such as ‘improved’, ‘increased’, ‘saved’, ‘implemented’ etc

Compare it against the role description / advert / recruiters pitch – Make sure it clearly includes the skills you have that they are looking for

Re-read, review and revise your CV a number of times. Keep checking the spelling and grammar. Ask others to read it and for their honest feedback – How would they describe this person’s skills and strengths? Would they be interested in meeting this person for interview? Is there any confusing messages, missing information? Can they see any typos?

And a few things I have seen and advise against:

Do not use the word CV at the top of your document but use your name instead – much more useful information to the reader. Put it in the header so it is at the top of every page

Don’t lie or embellish – it will only bite you somewhere you’d rather it didn’t in the middle of an interview!

Avoid using vague statements such as ‘I am a self-driven team player’ unless it followed up by something factual detailing an achievement

Including your photo – unless it has been asked for and your appearance is an important part of the role but otherwise it sends out a different message

This article has been featured with the kind permission of Emma Ryan. Want to find out more tips or need help with your CV? Please call Emma Ryan Coaching Solutions by emailing

CV Writing Advice: Great CV Formats for Older Workers

Writing a new CV can be a daunting experience at the best of times, but especially difficult for an older worker – I mean where do you start? You probably haven’t written a CV for years and may have 40+ years of working history to summarize onto 2 sides of A4 paper! So I know what you’re thinking..

“*!*! What’s the best way to do this?”

Alternatively perhaps you’ve retrained following redundancy and are trying to figure out the best way to write a CV; a selling document, for a job role you’ve never done before. It’s tough isn’t it? But you’re not alone.

There’s some great advice here though when it comes to writing CVs which will help to showcase your skills and experience in the right way and ultimately get you an interview for a new job or career. And that’s the important thing to remember;

The CV gets you an interview; your interview/s then gets you the job.

That’s right, the CV plays such an important role in helping you stand out from the crowd, that here are some great CV formats from our friends at the National Careers Service to get you through the door.

CV formats

So which format should you use? The answer to this question is the format that suits your aims and shows you in the best light as an older worker. Different CV formats contain mainly the same information but worded in a different way, in different sections and in a different order. These might seem like small changes to make to your CV, but when employers have hundreds to sift through, every little improvement helps, especially when you have years of valuable experience and transferable skills.

Bear in mind that in all CV formats the personal details, personal profile and qualifications sections remain the same. It’s your work history and achievements that change in each format.

Here’s 2 examples that suit the older worker in a much better way than the standard, performance formatted CV

1. The functional CV format

A functional CV is a skills-based CV format. These formats can be useful if you’re looking for a career change for example as many older workers do. The functional CV is great for the older worker as they focus on your transferable skills and experience, rather than job titles, companies, and how long ago you got the experience.

In a functional CV you promote your skills and achievements in three to six ‘functional headings’. For example, if you’re applying for work in a retail role then headings could include ‘customer service’ and ‘sales’ – both key skills for any retail role.

Functional CVs are similar to targeted CVs, discussed below, in that they focus on your skills, the difference being on a functional CV you choose the title of the three to six skill headings. On a targeted CV the headings are always ‘abilities’ and ‘achievements’. Therefore, functional CVs can be effective at highlighting your unique combination of skills.

View an example of a functional CV

2. The Targeted CV format

A targeted CV is a skills-based CV format and again great for the older worker as it focuses on your transferable skills and experience, rather than job titles, companies, and how long ago you got the experience.

It’s called a targeted CV because you use it to aim for a specific type of job. You only include details that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

A targeted CV is similar to a functional CV, in that it focuses on skills rather than job roles. However, on a targeted CV you use the headings ‘abilities’ and ‘achievements’ rather than creating three to six individual skills headings, as you would on a functional CV. This can help your major strengths and achievements to stand out.

“What’s the difference between abilities and achievements?”

Abilities are natural or acquired skills or talents. You can provide specific details of the abilities and examples of when you’ve used them. For example, writing is a skill, but just listing ‘writing skills’ isn’t specific and doesn’t give an employer an indication of when and how you’ve used these skills.

An achievement is accomplishing something. Don’t confuse responsibilities with achievements – they are different. Achievements are unique to you; responsibilities are what anybody undertaking that role would do. Achievements can make you stand out from others who may have similar skills and experience.

For example, a responsibility could be:

researching and writing articles for a company newsletter

Whereas, an achievement could be:

devised and implemented the introduction of a company newsletter, improving staff morale and communication throughout the organization

If your achievements are measurable (they saved you or the company money or time) then try and include details of this too.

View an example of a targeted CV

This article has been reproduced with content used form the National Careers Service website with their kind permission. Please click here for further information.

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