“Perfect preparation prevents poor performance” is a phrase you hear in many walks of life, from business to sport to education, and will resonate with the many who simply can’t ‘bluff’ or ‘wing’ things. I’m one of those people. I need to know when I walk through a door – for an important occasion – that I have left nothing to chance. If I don’t get the job I need, the result I craved, or the grade I wanted, then I want the reassurance of knowing that I did my best before I went through that door.

And the above surely applies when it comes to getting that new, dream job, doesn’t it?

So many people who are brilliant at what they do never get the chance to sit in front of potential new employers simply because they didn’t prepare properly beforehand. They didn’t pay enough attention to the controllables; the things that experience no external influence on them. The things that you, and solely you, are responsible for.

And one that continuously lets job candidates down is their CV…….

I often hear people say that “It’s good enough…” – it rarely is. Especially when you consider that many jobs have over one hundred applicants going for it. All you have is your CV and covering letter to represent you. Ask yourself: is yours better than your competitors? Be honest with your answer. You need to give yourself an edge. You need to get yourself an interview. That’s where your CV comes into play.

If it’s not quite up to scratch, it’s easy enough to remedy the situation. And like any important document, it’s a living, breathing entity. It’s not something to be taken off the shelf, and the dust and cobwebs blown off it every few years. Your CV needs to be updated on (at least) a monthly basis, as does your LinkedIn profile if you have one. They are your shop window. Don’t fill that window with things that are well past their sell-by date!


How long should a CV be?

No longer than two sides of A4. It’s a thorough but concise overview of you and your career. One side may say that you don’t have the skills or experience required, but three sides may put some potential employers off.


What sections should be in a CV?

Contact details – Your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. Nothing else should be put on there, such as age, marital status, phot etc

Personal Profile – This is a snapshot of you and what you do and focuses on your achievements and skills, and the position/sector you are applying for.

Work experience – List your work experience in reverse date order, making sure that anything you mention is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Include your job title, the name of the company, how long you were with the organisation and key responsibilities. If you have plenty of relevant work experience, this section should come before education.

Skills and achievements – These should be snappy and in bullet point format. If you can out in figures and statistics then do so eg. Increased sales by 35% from August to December 2021,

Education – List and date all previous education, including professional qualifications. Place the most recent first. Include qualification type/grades, and the dates.

Interests – ‘Socialising’ isn’t going to catch a recruiters attention. However, relevant interests can provide a more complete picture of who you are, as well as giving you something to talk about at interview. Examples include writing your own blog, charity work, being part of a team etc. Don’t put in your favourite football team though for obvious reasons! If you don’t have any relevant hobbies or interests leave this section out.

References – You don’t need to provide the names of referees at this stage. You can say ‘references available upon request’. But be prepared to have at last two references you can call on at short notice if needs be.


We think you need to think deeply about what is needed and not needed on your CV, because that’s what others will be doing when they apply. You should also be asking yourself the following:

  • What pain can you cure for your new employer? By that, we mean just why should they employ you? How will you getting the job be of benefit to your potential employer?
  • Do you change your CV for different job applications? You should.
  • Does your CV match the job description’s specific needs and demands?
  • Do you have other generic professional skills and responsibilities that you may not even know you have? eg. leading teams, budget management, sales, marketing, etc.
  • What track record/successes do you have that lend themselves to this new job? Use facts, data etc to back this up.
  • What would stop you getting a job – what are your weaknesses? Turn them into strengths.
  • Does your potential new employer really need to know your age, marital status, leisure pursuits, and a picture of what you look like etc?


M&J Personnel Ltd are the go-to recruitment consultants in Essex and the Southeast for the Industrial, Commercial, and Driving sectors. We will be with you in the application process every step along the way.  Get in touch for a chat to see how we do this.