Q&A: The perfect CV

Materials World magazine
1 Mar 2014

Rachel Lawler speaks to Nick Gerrell, Principal Consultant at UK automotive and engineering recruitment firm Gerrell and Hard, about writing the best possible CV.  

How much of a difference can a good CV make to a job application?
Fundamentally, a well-written CV can make the difference between gaining an interview, or being weeded out before that process begins. Quite simply, a good CV can make the difference between getting your dream job or not.

Do you think CV-writing is something engineers struggle with?

I read hundreds of CVs every week and the vast majority of these are acceptable. So, I think engineers are generally good at CV writing. That said, I think you should be aiming for a perfect CV. You have to remember that this document is a reflection of you and your career. A simple mistake on this could cost you the chance of getting an interview.

What mistakes do you frequently see engineers making on their CVs?
I have seen it all – CVs that are much too long, or too short, badly formatted with poor choices of font and layout or even with added colours and photographs. People also often go into too much technical detail and spelling mistakes are much too frequent and completely unforgivable.  

What makes a perfect CV?
A good CV is clear and concise. I recommend that everyone use two pages and this applies whether you are a graduate or a director. You need to give the person reading it a flavour of you as an individual and your career so far, without sending them to sleep. I like to see a short profile paragraph at the top of the CV, followed by career history listed in chronological order. Qualifications and training should be listed next – but again, keep it clear and concise.

If you could give candidates just one piece of advice for writing a CV, what would it be?
It is important to remember that your CV will never get you a job offer. It will create the opportunity to interview for whichever role you have applied for. Keep your CV simple and professional, and follow the above guidelines, and you should have every opportunity to be invited for an interview. Once you are at this stage, then it’s your chance to shine.