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The most valuable asset for any career professional is their CV, showcasing their personality, experience and skills.

Amongst the many talented candidates out there, it’s essential to keep your CV up-to-date and relevant for your chosen career. Even though it varies from company to company, employers look at CVs on an average of six to seven seconds before making a decision.

In some cases where the hiring manager has received multiple applications, the first thing they’ll look for is the most recent experience. However, once they’ve whittled them down, all other details will be scrutinised.

As experts in hiring for the Data, Digital, Design, Marketing and Public Relations sectors, we have pointed out the crucial elements for any resume belonging to a professional within these industries…


🦴 The Bones

One of the first things a hiring manager will look at is the structure.

They will consider the following things:

  • First impressions? (i.e., if a photo is used, then how professional is it? Selfies are a turn off).
  • Is it easy to read and obtain crucial information? (i.e., is job history one of the first pieces of content showcased?).
  • How has the information been laid out? (i.e., are there chunks of text or snappy bullet points?).
  • Contact information? (.i.e., is it easy to find?).

It’s also worth tailoring your CV’s format to match your career choice. If you’re a Graphic Designer, then a simple Word doc with paragraph after paragraph isn’t showcasing your ability.

Adding a bit of colour will make your CV stand out, but don’t go overboard with the number of colours used. One or two, at a max three, and make sure that the colours used don’t distract the reader from the information.

We recommend page margins to fit more information and columns of text so you can show different elements of your CV in clear, concise boxes. Avoid over-complicating the format, adding unnecessary images and having your font too small in order to fit everything on one page.


Henry Nicholas’ Director, Daniel Carne says:

“Don’t worry about going on to 2-4 pages.  It’s more important to show your relevant experience than create an attractive 1 page CV that leaves the reader with question marks.”

🦲 Face Value

The Personal Statement (PS) at the top of your CV is your introduction and provides a glimpse of your personality and a summary of your professional background.

These statements are not always present on resumes as some candidates decide to not include a PS in order to fit more information regarding their work experience, but we would recommend having that introduction as it can add a personal touch to a fact heavy document.

When designing your PS, it’s important to make it relevant, and not generic.  Avoid comments like, “I’m a great communicator” or “I work well on my own or part of a team”. Think of all the countless CVs that feature those generic sentences…

Henry Nicholas’ Principal Consultant, Andrew Midgley, has suggested the following PS as an example to go by:

Andy continues, in reflection to the above example:

  • You have conveyed your seniority and that you are well educated.
  • You show your progression.
  • You highlight that you have worked for top agencies and clients.
  • You show your marketing experience and the breadth of that experience.
  • You’ve highlighted that you’re a great account handler used to commercial growth.
  • You’ve shown that you are experienced in people management.


🧬 The DNA

The most important part of your CV is the Work Experience! This is the content which most hiring managers will make a beeline for when viewing your application.

Your work history should be one of the first pieces of information shown and should start with the latest experience. Avoid big blocks of text and consider bullet points to draw the reader’s attention to a punchy list of achievements.


Henry Nicholas’ Senior Consultant, Nick Edgar, has suggested the following:

“Use facts and figures to highlight your success.  Anyone can say they’re commercially minded, but if you can say you led the pitch to secure a big brand client worth (X) amount, that quantifies your achievements.

Anyone can say they’ve worked on social media campaigns, but if you can say you’ve worked internationally for an iconic brand, growing their followers from (X) to (Y) by securing (Z) influencer in a campaign that won an award, that carries far more weight!”


Regarding the other elements within your CV, we have some Top Tips:

Education – If you hold a degree, then share this information (even if the subject isn’t relevant to your chosen career) and if you have completed any learning and development courses, either online or in person, these should be showcased as well, as this shows your initiative to progress professionally.

Skills – A small section on one side of your CV could be used to highlight areas of your expertise. This is especially useful for hiring managers who are looking for specific skill sets (i.e., account management, business development, client relationship management, etc) and technology experience (i.e., Adobe Suite, HubSpot, etc)

Contact information – You would be surprised at how many CVs we see that have everything but a telephone number and an email address! So make sure that this information is easy to find (i.e., at the top of the first page) and includes a telephone number, email address and the area that you’re based. If you have a LinkedIn profile that you keep up-to-date, share a link in this section as well.


💅 Any personal touches..?

It’s not essential to add any personal touches (i.e., hobbies or interests), but occasionally this can work in your favour. Hiring managers (especially those in marketing agencies) are looking for not just relevant experience, but also a good culture fit.

It’s important to note that this section (if used) shouldn’t be any longer than a few sentences and can just be formatted as a short list underneath your Skills. Remember that your CV is your gateway to securing an interview and must remain professional! Focus on more appropriate activities and in this section, you can be a little generic with your answers (i.e., “dog walks and Sunday lunches”, “crochet”, or “golf weekends”).

You never know, there’s a small chance the hiring manager will mention one of your hobbies and if there’s a mutual interest, then a friendly conversation following is an extra foot in the door!


🥼 Conclusion

Remember that a CV is there to get your foot in the door!

  • Triple check for typos.
  • Keep it relevant and concise.
  • Be honest – white lies or avoiding the truth can surface in interviews and create red flags for interviewers.
  • Keep it professional – it’s fine to be individual but avoid being over quirky in a way that could be off-putting.
  • Does it convey all the relevant experience? – Remember that hiring managers don’t know you or your work history.
  • Ask someone else to read through your CV to gain a second perspective.


📞 If you would like some advice on how your CV can be improved, then you can contact our recruitment team directly via 0117 317 8103. We’ll be happy to help!