Expert Interview with Rebecca Fuller on Writing a Great CV

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For advice on writing a standout CV or resume, we turned to Rebecca Fuller, founder of The Fuller CV. Fuller has a background in HR and spent 13 years as a recruitment consultant, which allowed her to develop a deep knowledge of CVs and learn what recruiters want in a resume, versus what job hunters typically put on them. She managed a nationwide network of recruitment offices and directly managed a dedicated team of 2,000.

"I enjoy helping individuals with their CV and hearing the success stories that we hear from individuals who have had their CV written through us, with almost a third increasing their salary and 91 percent gaining interviews within the first six weeks of using our service," she told us recently. "It is an extremely rewarding role."

Here's what else Fuller had to say about creating a standout CV:

Who should use FullerCV services?

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Anyone is able to use TheFullerCV; those who are currently seeking work, planning to look for work in the near future or those who would like a career change and need advice on how to write their CV in order to allow them to gain access to a different market. We also provide interview coaching, which is especially useful for those who are getting to the interview stage but not getting any further.

What tools do you offer that help job hunters land a position?

We offer:

  • a free CV review service that offers tips on how to improve your CV
  • a CV makeover, in which a consultant will rework your CV to add in key words and alter the appearance to make the CV more appealing
  • professional CV writing services, in which we match you with a consultant specific to your industry who will call you and ask you various leading questions about your previous work history — this will allow them to write you a new CV aimed at the market which you want to go into and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • the completion of application forms, cover letters, Linkedin profiles, CV templates, cover letter templates, email reviews and CV updates (if you have previously had a CV with us)

What are the most common mistakes people make when writing a CV?

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Spelling and grammar errors, incorrect (or even not including) phone numbers and email addresses, the use of color, not including a personal profile, including personal information such as date of birth (which can leave you open to judgment based on your age) and national insurance and passport numbers (which can leave you open to identity theft). Furthermore, individuals often create a long CV (some up to 15 pages!) when really it should only be two (unless it is an academic CV which can be longer).

It is also important not to include your references details on your CV as this is a breach of privacy to the individuals; details of references should only be given out at the time of an interview or when specifically requested. Pictures also should not be included on a CV. You also do not need to write "CV" at the top of your CV, as employers will know what the document is.

What are the most important things to include in a CV?

The most important things to include on your CV are your contact details, a personal profile stating the role that you are currently looking for, your work history (including responsibilities and achievements at the role), and your educational background. Skills such as IT and technical skills are also important to put on your CV, as it allows employers to see you have the skills they require.

How can you make yourself stand out on a CV without going overboard?

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The easiest way to stand out from the crowd is by including your achievements at work. Do not simply list your job roles, as most employers will know what your duties would include by your job title. Employers want to be able to see what you can bring to the role and why they should employ you over the other candidates. Therefore, make sure you include details of promotions, awards, and extra responsibilities you took on throughout the role to show why they should choose you.

What have been some of the most creative, eye-catching CVs you've come across? What can job hunters learn from them?

Key words are essential to make you stand out from the crowd. For instance, your profile should not simply say how you are "hardworking" and "highly motivated" as they are things that the majority have on their CVs and employers will expect that of you anyway. It is important to include your key skills, such as IT and technical skills, your achievements and what role you are looking for so employers can see you are interested in their role and the right candidate for the role.

It is best to write in bullet points or short paragraphs to keep things straight to the point. You have to remember that employers are sent hundreds of CVs per job advertised and they do not have the time to read each CV in depth. If your CV is easy to read — and they can see why you are a good candidate from the start — it will make them much more likely to read on.

What are the most important things to consider when formatting a CV?

The most important things are to keep it to two pages, as some recruiters do cut off CVs at two pages. You also should keep a CV in black and white to make it easy to read. Make sure it is saved in a PDF or word document in order for the majority to be able to read it. Ensure the font size is readable (we recommend size 11 or 12). Do not use tables on a CV, as not all CV reading software is able to read them.

What should every standout cover letter include?

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Cover letters should be addressed to the company or an individual when known to make it more personal. You should include achievements in your cover letter and mold it so it is specifically aimed at the role. For instance, if the role requires good customer service skills, include in your cover letter details on when you have provided good customer service so the employer can see from the start that you are a candidate with experience for the role.

You should also place it in a letter format with your name and address on the top at the right and also include your name at the end of the letter. Refer to your CV within the cover letter so the employer becomes more inclined to view your CV.

What should job hunters do to clean up their online reputation before submitting CVs to companies?

  • Set up a Linkedin profile stating your previous work history, etc. so employers can read about you.
  • Join various groups related to the work you want to enter to show your interest in the roles.
  • Get your work colleagues to endorse your skills on your profile.
  • Make sure you make your Facebook profile private (or at least make sure all the pictures and posts visible are appropriate) as it is likely potential employers will check your Facebook presence before meeting you. One way to avoid them viewing your Facebook page is having two email addresses, one for your Facebook then a separate one you give potential employers.

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