Philip Beck
Oct 26, 2010

Five things you need to know about writing a compelling CV's Philip Beck has 35 years experience working in the advertising, media and recruitment industry. Here he shares his insights and tips on how to write a compelling CV.

Philip Beck
Philip Beck

1. Include a photo in the top-right hand corner of your CV. In other markets, like North America, some argue the inclusion of a photo is prejudicial. In Asia, no photo can mean you’re out of the running. Ensure your photo is a head and shoulders passport style, not some goofy shot that has people wondering 'what on earth were they thinking'.

2. Keep it to one page. You have 10 to 15 seconds to make an impression. That’s how long most people spend scanning a CV, so treat it like a 15 second commercial. Enough to tease the reader to call you for more information. 

3. Have an opening paragraph that describes in less than 70 words, who you are, what you’ve done, what you’re looking for and why. Think of it as your 'lead', just like they teach in the basic rule of journalism and copywriting.

4. In the second paragraph list your core competencies as 'keywords'. This will ensure your CV is captured in any keyword search, particularly if a machine is doing the screening and also succinctly summarises your experience for the reader.

5. For each position you’ve held, list at least one directly measurable achievement and the evidence to support that achievement (could be a public endorsement on LinkedIn). Do not list your responsibilities. They should be obvious from the industry sector and job title. You want the reader to have an 'aha' moment, where their reaction is 'this is exactly the sort of person we need in our business right now'.

If you’ve had more than three roles in your career, list the rest of your previous roles as one-liners including job title, company name and length of tenure. Otherwise, it’s history that bears no real relevance to the here and now.

And forget about awards, certifications, education, hobbies, references available on request and any other extra curricular activities. They can all be disclosed in an interview if required.


Your CV is your personal brand. Portray yourself, as you want people to see you and like any brand, ensure the brand promise can be delivered.

57 per cent of jobs in agencies, digital, marketing and media are never advertised, because employers source candidates through their own networks, or from candidates making direct contact. So use your compelling CV as content on free tools like LinkedIn and, to build your brand profile, as you never know when someone is looking.

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