Careers Advice: Understanding the importance of a well-written CV

Written by: Greg Snook
Published On: 5 Jun 2017

CV

Understanding the importance of a well-written CV

As a recruiter who specialises in town planning recruitment, I’m often asked to cast my eye over CVs to ensure they make the most impact at a glance.

We all understand the importance of a well written CV, but it’s not always easy to come up with the right wording and format and we can often over-complicate things. Ultimately you need to look at things through the eyes of an employer and think about what would you look for if you were looking for someone to fill a specific role.

The first point of call will be a job spec - if you’re a suitable candidate for a role then you should be able to relate your CV to the ‘must haves’ on a job spec. These will be specific so it’s safe to say that if you haven’t covered at least 75 per cent of the requirements during your career to date then it’s less likely that you’ll be invited to an interview.

Making these ‘must haves’ on your CV stand out is equally important. A hiring manager will want to pick out key words on your CV at a glance. Therefore, it’s useful to structure your CV in a standard format where details that relate to their requirements are easy to spot. Don’t be tempted to try to enhance your CV with fancy graphics or text boxes. The content of your CV should be the focus:

Name, followed by any accreditations. E.g. BA (Hons) MSc MRTPI

Summary

Your summary should be a short paragraph that describes your career to date and should be able to cover three key points. 1. Your technical capability 2. Your management or mentoring experience 3. Your commerciality. These are the key requirements of a senior consultant and are especially important to emphasise if you’re looking to make the move from the public to the private sector.

Employment History

Planning Consultancy June 2013 to Present

Senior Planner

Only refer to employment that is relevant to your career in planning. Your most recent position should be at the top of the list. This is an opportunity to reiterate the three key points made in your summary to each specific role. It should be clear that your responsibility has increased with each career move. Mention at least one key achievement, more if they really stand out. You should not need to write more than 2 paragraphs for each role.

Project portfolio

Large Strategic Development - Client, Wiltshire Jan 2015

A project portfolio is the simplest way to demonstrate key achievements in your career to date and it’s a great way to showcase your capabilities. Just a short paragraph that relates to your involvement in the project, any key achievements and the outcome. There’s no limit to the number of projects you list if they are relevant.

Education History

It goes without saying that you need to list your academic achievements. The detail you go into explaining the modules covered during your degrees depends on the level of the role you’re applying

for and your industry experience. For instance, a graduate with no demonstrable experience will need to add more detail to compensate for less professional experience.

Certifications

List any relevant accreditations and the date which they were achieved. If the accreditation is something you’re working towards then explain what you’re doing to achieve it and provide a timescale of when it will be awarded.

The key to a good CV is making it simple and to the point. Less is more than often more. Just remember that your opportunity to elaborate on the points made will be at your interview.

Best of luck in writing your CV’s! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like some input on how to advance your planning career, via greg@jsm-associates.co.uk or 07789 901128.

Greg Snook is principal consultant at JSM Associates and is a specialist town planning recruiter and executive search consultant.