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  • Writer's pictureNadina

Optimise your Job Hunt Part 3: Writing Your CV

After you set your job-seeking goals and complete some market research, you can update your CV and LinkedIn Profile.

In this article which is an updated version of a previous guide I wrote, I will share some top tips to write an awesome CV to market your skills to recruiters.

Things to be mindful of include:

1.    Your CV has to talk to two audiences that have never met you and are relying on the information you provide in a document to make a hiring decision. Your experience needs to be clearly communicated so the both parties (the recruitment consultant and the hiring manager) understand your roles, skills and achievements.

2.    Your CV will go into a database and will often have information stripped and assessed to rank your experience and suitability. It’s important to use the relevant keywords and phrases in your CV and LinkedIn profile.

3.     When an application is made, your CV goes directly into the recruiter’s database, it converts the document to plain text and strips out key words, personal information etc. This process struggles with funky CV formats with columns, boxes and tables etc. It is essential to keep the design really simple. It might not be as eye catching, but it will work and ensure your information does not get lost and mis-entered. 

Steps to Take

1.    Research

CVs are marketing documents; therefore, they need to be targeted to the audience. Before you even start writing, do some searches for jobs that meet your criteria. I wrote more about this in a previous blog you can find on my site.

Check all the key words and phrases recruiters are using and the experience they are asking for in the advertisement. 

Write down all the relevant words and phrases associated with your job.

For example, most job functions can be called by different job titles such as:

Foreman, Site Supervisor, Site Manager

HSE Coordinator, Health and Safety Coordinator, Health and Safety Representative, Health and Safety Adviser

Write down all the job titles relevant to you.

Then list all the core candidate requirements recruiters are asking for in the jobs you are targeting. This includes practical experience and soft skills (negotiation, communication, relationship building, leadership etc.)

When you start writing, ensure that you are using these different phrases in the text, communicating your experience and soft skills in the same language as you are seeing in job adverts.

2.    Reflect

Go through all your previous roles and think about the things you are most proud and make notes. These could include:

Business growth and success, you contributed to

Improvements / processes / procedures you developed and implemented

Money you saved

Business you won

Significant challenges you overcame (the worst project you worked on, could be the best example to showcase your skills and ability to navigate problems).

General achievements

Writing the Document

When I prepare a CV, I write the job content first and then prepare the profile and key skills to reflect this. When you write the content, make sure you are using the key words and phrases you noted earlier throughout the text.  

I typically structure documents as follows:


Contact Details


Key Skills


Work Experience (responsibilities, achievements, projects)

Voluntary Activities (if relevant, voluntary work is great)

Additional Training

References (to close, available upon request)

1.    Job History

Remember the reader knows nothing about your company and job. One of the most common errors people make on CVs is writing a list of random responsibilities without telling a story or providing context. 

Write a brief overview of your employer (one to two lines).To start your responsibilities, write an overview of your job remit, this is one of the most important elements as when a recruiter scans the CV so they can see what you were responsible for at a glance.

For example:

“As Project Manager, I was responsible for the management of construction projects valued up-to $50m from tender phase to handover”

“As Safety Coordinator, I led a team of two administrators to develop and implement safety systems across a portfolio of 5-10 projects running concurrently”

You will notice I have also used the job title again; this overview can be a great opportunity to get your keywords repeated in the document.

List your responsibilities in a logical manner that tells a story to your job. Give context to them, for example:

“Preparing project reports” can become “Preparing and analysing project reports to identify areas to improve productivity”

“Procurement of subcontractors” can become “Preparing technical scopes of work and tender documentation, sourcing new subcontractors, reviewing tender responses, negotiating preferential pricing and letting contracts”

Next, list the achievements you made a note of earlier, use the STAR technique to tell the story and give context. For example:

Situation: Took over the management of a $20m project that was 50% complete, 20% over budget and behind program. Action: Redeveloped delivery methodology and program Result: recovered slippage, delivered on time and achieved original target profit margin"

If you work in a project focused role, it’s important to list your project, recruiters make interview and hiring decisions based on projects. Provide project name, value, scope and positive outcomes. If you have worked on lots, you can list some examples; whilst ensuring the projects you showcase demonstrate your scope and breadth of experience. 

2.    Profile and Skills

Never never write a defined career objective, this is a guaranteed way to rule yourself out of an interview if your objective does not align with the employers. 

So many times, I have read a CV where the objective was a total contradiction of the job applied for – for example; objective says “looking to lead a team” job applied to is not a leadership role! Why would any recruiter interview that person when they have clearly stated the job is not their goal and are likely to leave!

I write profiles which capture my clients unique selling points based on their target position, tell their story and tie in their relevant experience to demonstrate their capabilities. I use this to tell recruiters what they need to know about a candidate, before they even read the work history. Make sure its relevant to your target roles.

I then list key skills and give some context on them; this information is clearly communicated to speak to the candidate’s target roles and incorporates the information gathered from job advertisements.

For example, if the job is for a Project Manager and the advertisements are looking for the following experience:

Leading Bids

Developing programs

Leading Procurement

Developing and managing budgets

Design management

Leading delivery

Leading Safety

Along with the following soft skills:



Relationship development

My skills would reflect these, usually with definition and positive outcomes – for example:

Design Management: Managing consultants and engineers, leading value-engineering exercises to improve quality and budget; reviewing design documentation for accuracy and buildability.

Safety: Developing Safety Management Plans and leading the implementation on site to ensure zero LTI’s. Building strong relationship with subcontractors to influence positive safety behaviour and a culture of compliance.

Procurement: Leading procurement processes from development of scope and tender through to award of contract. Negotiating contracts to achieve preferential pricing and commercial terms.

I have achieved an excellent safety record with zero LTIs recorded in the past ten years.I successfully negotiated three major subcontracts saving 15% of initial budget with zero contract variations.

3.    References

I never list references unless the job advert specifically asks for them, such as Government roles. Control and manage your references, I wrote a detailed article about this subject here:

Additional Information and Things to Avoid

How far back you go depends on your career, I typically go back as far as 15 years but always take a view based on my client’s experience. Recruiters are typically interested in your most recent experience, however if things you did years ago are really relevant then you can make reference to them. As I go back further, I write less detail on a job and keep it to a high-level summary, so the reader understands the context and remit of the role.

Keep the information focused on your professional life, leave out hobbies and interests; unless you are a Graduate and your interests are relevant to demonstrate you are well-read, a team player, a leader, a good communicator etc. This is because any hobby can stir a negative opinion and opinions should just be made on your personal life.

Never include personal data such as date-of-birth, marital status, number of kids etc. Again, we keep the information focused on professional experience.

Always explain gaps in employment, even if its just a career break.Never include a photo, LinkedIn is the place for an image, not your CV.

Use action focused words such as leading, accomplished, successfully etc. and I prefer to use “I”, particularly when describing accomplishments.

Get a trusted friend or recruiter to read and critique the CV, ensure that the person you ask is in a position to provide effective advice rather than personal opinions. They need to be experience reviewing CVs.  

Keep the document concise - two to four pages max (Australia & UK). Four pages is fine for people working in a profession that’s project based as they need to provide information on the projects they worked on and its also OK for senior level people, otherwise three pages is best practice in Australia.

Next time I will chat in more detail about managing the jobhunting process.

I have helped thousands of people achieve their career goals quicker, secure awesome jobs and plan strategic career paths. I write CVs, LinkedIn profiles and provide personalised coaching to my clients.
I work with people from all industries and professions, graduate to managing director level and have helped people in Australia, America, Europe, Asia the Middle East and Africa!
I love my work and hearing my client’s stories, its lots of fun.
For further information, give me a call 04375 90411
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