Struggling with listing achievements on your CV? Try this.

Struggling with listing achievements on your CV? Try this.

Google’s dictionary defines a ‘task’ as ‘a piece of work to be done or undertaken’, and ‘responsibility’ as ‘a thing which one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation’.

Listing tasks or responsibilities on your CV tells the person reading it nothing more than what you were required to do. It makes for a dry and dull read. It doesn’t tell them how you made a difference, what your results were, why you were an employee or supplier worth retaining.

What’s more, anyone has held that position could, in theory, list the same tasks or responsibilities. You could end up presenting a similar CV to other applicants, making it hard for the person reading your CV to understand how you are different.

By contrast, Google’s dictionary defines ‘achievement’ as ‘a thing done successfully with effort, skill, or courage’. A much more dynamic definition!

Outlining achievements (what you accomplished) rather than tasks and responsibilities (what you were required to do) will strengthen your CV, giving the reader a better understanding of your experience, skills, and future potential.

I appreciate that it can be tricky to think of what you achieved by performing a defined task, which is perhaps why some people resort to listing duties and responsibilities instead. So, I thought it might be useful to share some questions that will help you to define your achievements.

Question 1: What was your task or responsibility?


Let’s use an example.

Imagine if you were a banquet attendant at Hotel XYZ. One of your tasks might be to set up tables and chairs. If you were simply listing responsibilities on your CV, you might write ‘Set up chairs and tables for hotel events’.

So far, so boring. But how can you transform this straightforward if highly physical task into something more dynamic? Let us move to question two.

Question 2: What might have happened if you hadn’t done it?


Consider what might have happened if you hadn’t done that task at all, or hadn’t done it well.

In our example above, lots of things may have happened if you hadn’t set up the chairs and tables for the event.

Paying clients may have entered Hotel XYZ’s banquet hall and discovered an unprepared venue with insufficient seating.

As a result, they may have been late to sit down for their meal, throwing the event timetable into disarray. The caterers, who planned on serving dinner at an agreed time, may have needed a plan B. Catering and serving staff may be required to work extra hours to accommodate the delay, meaning more expense and less profit for the hotel. The wedding speeches may have been delayed, postponing the moment when nervous speech givers could truly relax. The band may have had a later start time than planned, and may charge clients more for a later finish or offer a shorter set.

The wedding party and their guests may not have received the service or experience they had expected Hotel XYZ to deliver. They may have got a poor impression of Hotel XYZ. They may have complained. They may have asked for a discount. They probably would have told others about their experience. They might even have left adverse reviews online, affecting Hotel XYZ’s positive rating on TripAdvisor or another review site. This adverse publicity may have put others off booking Hotel XYZ for their wedding or event. As a result, the hotel may not meet its sales target for wedding packages. Revenues may have dipped; staffing would necessarily reduce, all because you didn’t put the chairs and tables out on time!

I acknowledge this is an extreme representation, but it goes to show that all actions have a reaction, and tasks and responsibilities have a consequence, for your employer and their clients. Let’s move on to question three.

Question 3: What benefit did you achieve by doing it?


For every answer outlined in response to question two, consider the opposite situation. This will help clarify the benefits you delivered by performing your task.

Looking at the answers above, it seems like by doing my job well, I have most likely helped Hotel XYZ to meet and exceed its clients’ expectations, thereby ensuring their satisfaction, avoiding any negative feedback on- or offline, and maintaining its overall reputation. My actions also helped Hotel XYZ to protect its profit margins by ensuring weddings and other events ran to time, avoiding unplanned costs.

Having identified the benefits you delivered, you can use them to craft achievement-focused bullets for use on your CV. Here are some examples:

  • Positioned Hotel XYZ to achieve and maintain an average 4.5/5 TripAdvisor bubble rating by ensuring timely, accurate set up of weddings and events
  • Facilitated cost-effective and quality delivery of hotel events by ensuring timely set-up of chairs, tables, and equipment for each booking
  • Helped Hotel XYZ to secure 50 new wedding bookings for 2020 by working as a team to deliver a high-quality wedding experience for 2019 clients

You can read more about how to create strong bullet points here:

If your CV features tasks and responsibilities, use these three questions to turn them into attention-grabbing bullets that will intrigue your target reader to find out more.

Ultimate Guide: CV Punctuation and Grammar

Ultimate Guide: CV Punctuation and Grammar

A recent survey from reported that while 71% of the 5,000 single respondents were judging potential dates on their teeth, 69% were fretting about their grammar. Dating or not, your punctuation and grammar can invite a positive or negative first impression, especially when it comes to presenting your CV.

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can send your CV straight to the bin, so if you want that job, you have to get it right. It’s not enough to rely on the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word; you need to be 100% confident that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar makes the grade. So, let’s explore some of the key punctuation and grammar rules and how they work in the context of your CV.



Punctuation brings order to our words, helping the reader to decipher our intended meaning. Imagine a CV with no punctuation to show where sentences begin, end, pause, or change track. It would be an incoherent mess. Saying that, over-punctuating a CV can deliver the same result. This guidance should help you to punctuate your words effectively so that your CV is clear and easy to read.


Full stops


Full stops are used to mark the end of a sentence. On your CV, you can use full stops at the end of sentences in your Profile. Some people like to use full stops at the end of their bullets under Experience; however, I prefer to leave them open. Also, I wouldn’t bother using full stops after brief bits of information in your Key Skills, Education, or Additional Information sections, for example.

When it comes to full stops, there are two distinct schools of thought – put a one-character space after the full stop, or add two. A recent article on the Cult of Pedagogy website explained why two spaces after a full stop used to be the norm but are no longer best practice. Believe it or not, adding two spaces after a full stop may lead the person reading your CV to make assumptions about your age (apparently nothing says over 40 like two spaces!).

Some people like to add full stops after each initial of an acronym, e.g. Management Information (M.I.). I prefer to present the acronym without full stops, e.g. Management Information (MI), as it looks cleaner. The only exception would be if the job advert requested a qualification or skill set listed as an acronym with full stops, e.g., M.B.A. In this case, I’d recommend presenting the term in the same way on your CV to make it through any automated sift. In this case, present acronyms in a consistent way throughout your CV.




The comma is used to separate items in a list or to separate clauses within a sentence. That’s simple enough. However, before writing your CV, you’ll need to decide whether you will adopt the Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma. Those who favour the Oxford comma will add a final comma before the word ‘and’ to separate items in a list, to clarify their meaning. I love to eat jelly, ice cream, sweets and bacon could read that the individual enjoys sweets and bacon together. Using the Oxford comma clarifies that these are separate items: I love to eat jelly, ice cream, sweets, and bacon. Whether you decide to adopt the Oxford comma or not, be sure to use commas consistently on your CV.





Colons can be used to introduce an explanation or a list e.g. IT Skills: Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Sage Line 50; Adobe Photoshop.

Colons can also be used to link two related clauses, with the second clause explaining the first. Here, it can be used in place of a semi-colon.



A semi-colon can be used to join two distinct yet related main clauses, each of which can stand alone as a sentence in its own right. Semi-colons apply when a full stop is overkill, but a simple comma is too light to separate the two parts of your sentence. The semi-colon can be used in place of and. Here’s an example:

Trebled number of graduate hires in 2009; developed and retained talent by implementing structured and progressive training programmes.

Semi-colons can also be used to make sense of complex lists, where commas separate grouped items, such as the eggs in this sentence:

The breakfast choices included sausages; bacon; beans; poached, fried, and scrambled eggs; mushrooms; and toast.

Semi-colons can be a grey area, so if you do use them on your CV, use them confidently and accurately, or not at all.




Hyphens connect two words together to make a new word. They can be used in compound adjectives that modify a noun, as in results-focused manager.

Hyphens are also useful when you are using two adjectives to describe the same base word e.g. short- and long-term projects.




Apostrophes can be used to indicate ownership (e.g. Jane’s CV) or to replace omitted letters in a word (e.g. it’s instead of it is or I’d instead or I would).

The misused apostrophe is one of the most prevalent CV errors, with job hunters often confusing its (belonging to it) and it’s (replacing it is), or adding an unnecessary apostrophe at the end of a plural word.

An unnecessary or missing apostrophe could indicate slack attention to detail or a poor grasp of punctuation, so it’s worth checking and triple checking before hitting the send button.




Brackets can indicate additional information which, if left out, leaves a grammatically complete sentence. In the context of a CV, brackets are most often used with acronyms.

When using acronyms, explain them in full first e.g. Management Information (MI), including the abbreviation in brackets after the name. Following this, you can confidently abbreviate all subsequent mentions. I’d only bother using brackets in this way if the term appears frequently in your CV. If not, just use the term without the acronyms.





Slashes, also referred to as forward slashes, can be used in the abbreviated versions of words like without (w/o) or care of (c/o). No space is required before or after the slash.

Slashes can also be used in an either/or scenario, where the reader can choose between the two presented words. For example, I’d like a burger and/or sausage. Again, no space is required before or after the slash.

However, on a CV, a slash is sometimes used between two important terms, such as job titles (e.g. business analyst/project manager). Unfortunately, CV screening technology can’t always read and interpret the terms separated by the slash (e.g. analyst/project) as two words. In this case, it’s best to add a space before and after the forward slash.

Once again, consistency is key, so adopt the same rule for all slashes on your CV.

Word Classes


CV grammar


The words you use on your CV can dramatically impact how you are perceived, so select and use them with care. Here are some word classes that merit particular attention when writing your CV:


Common and proper nouns


Proper nouns name specific people, places, or things e.g. Susan, Kent, Bosch, and do need a capital letter.

Common nouns identify people, places, or things e.g. women, cities, boxes. They are not specific and do not need to be capitalised.

On CVs, I often see inconsistent and incorrect capitalisation of common nouns. Candidates will capitalise words they consider important, and this can be distracting. Also, capitalised words are harder to read than lower case, as they break the reader’s flow. If in doubt, use an online tool like Grammarly to check your use of capitals.

One area that often causes confusion when it comes to capitalisation is job titles. Many people capitalise job titles on their CV. In fact, you only need to capitalise job titles that are used as part of a name, positioned directly before or directly after the subject’s name. So, you’d write Professor Plum or Harold Plum, Professor as a title, but when noting a job title without a name, lower case is fine. For example, you can use lower case for the job titles of your direct reports, e.g. Led a team of 15 business analysts.

Pick a style and use it consistently throughout your CV. The exception to this would be in your CV section headings or job role headings under Experience, where you can capitalise each word, or use uppercase for the whole title as a formatting tactic to draw the reader’s attention.




Verbs are used to describe an action, state, or feeling, and can add real oomph to your CV. Use action verbs to convey what you did and what happened, showing yourself as the main protagonist in your career stories, rather than a passive observer. Here are a few examples in action:

  • Accelerated revenue growth by 50% in 12 months by segmenting target markets
  • Advanced relationships with 3 top-tier prospects, positioning Company A for contracts valued at £15m
  • Attracted graduate talent to grow this new team to 20 members in 2 years
  • Boosted team morale through new meetings and training opportunities, with 93% of staff giving positive feedback
  • Carved out a £2k saving on travel by sourcing a local conference venue
  • Doubled the oil and gas client portfolio in 6 months by generating and pursuing 150 leads
  • Exceeded annual sales target by 13%, recognised within the top 5% of sales staff globally
  • Generated a £5m sales pipeline through online and offline networking
  • Influenced board members to trial a new mentoring system, resulting in retention and promotion of 3 graduate recruits
  • Retained a portfolio of 11 key clients over 5 years, growing average account revenue by 30%

Aim to uplevel your choice of verbs as you progress through your career, relegating words like managed or led to junior roles, and saving more descriptive and powerful verbs for current and recent positions.




Adverbs are used to describe the verb. They usually end in ly e.g. expertly managed, effortlessly led. When it comes to writing your CV, your aim is to convey your message in as few words as possible, so that your reader isn’t disheartened by lengthy bullets or large blocks of text. Adverbs are ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘need to have’, and don’t usually make the edit. Aim for adverb-free brevity.




Personal pronouns reference specific people or things (I, me, mine, you, yours, his, he, her, she, it, we, they, them) and can replace a noun.

Using personal pronouns on a CV is a matter of personal choice. The CV is obviously about you, as your name is there at the top, so this eliminates the need for personal pronouns. However, personal pronouns can be used in the CV Profile: I have 10 years’ experience… I am a PRINCE2 project manager, etc.

Third person pronouns in their full form are a definite no-no for your CV. Writing he is an exceptional manager, for example, would make you seem self-important and raise eyebrows. Instead, many people prefer to omit the pronoun but continues in the first person narrative. For example, in your profile, you could describe yourself as follows: A PRINCE2 project manager with 10 years’ retail and logistics experience. To make life easier, start off by drafting the Profile in the first person narrative, then eliminate all pronouns for a snappier read.



Adjectives are used to describe nouns e.g. challenging project, flagship store, telling you more about that noun. On a CV, adjectives can be used sparingly, but their use should be challenged to ensure the CV is as easy and quick to read as it possibly can be.




Articles (a, an, the) are used before nouns to clarify if the noun is specific (the team, the award) or unspecific (a team, an award). In any case, they add little in the context of a CV. Tighten up your CV content by eliminating articles where possible.




Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings. Examples include: their, they’re, and there; your and you’re; hear and here; brake and break; complement and compliment; dual and duel; principal and principle; and stationary and stationery.

Be wary of homophones on your CV, as using the wrong word can make you seem slapdash and indicate you lack attention to detail.

While handy for picking up obvious errors, the spellchecker will skip straight past homophones. It won’t sea how grate you’re spelling misdemeanours are on you’re knew CV – all it will sea is that you’ve spelled every word write.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to write your CV, put it to one side overnight and read it again with fresh eyes, preferably aloud. You are more likely to see incorrect homophones and hear when a passage is clumsy or hard to read. Enlisting the help of a third party or using an online tool like Grammarly to check your CV is also a good idea.



Something that people do a lot, when writing, is accidentally switch between tenses in the same sentence. Tenses need to be used consistently on your CV, don’t muddle them. Read each sentence aloud as it will be much easier to spot a switch in tense.

Listing your results and achievements in the past tense can be more dynamic, so we typically use the past tense in Experience section bullets, even within your current employment section. Your Profile can be written in the present tense, as it describes your offering to your target employer, outlining how you can help by using your specific skills and experience.



Usually, the numbers one to ten should be written in word format, with numbers over ten written as figures. However, the two formats should not be mixed. On a CV, it can look cleaner to use figures rather than words for all numbers.


Want to Ace Your CV?


For more CV tips, download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle:


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How to Proofread Your CV

How to Proofread Your CV

When you’ve finally finished writing your CV, the desire to ship it out and be done with it can be overwhelming. I get it – you’ve spent so long looking at your screen that you can’t contemplate looking at it anymore. With glazed eyes and a tired mind, you can think of 1,001 things you’d rather be doing.

The temptation to hit the send button is one that you have to overcome. With competition for jobs so high, it’s imperative to submit an error-free CV, ensuring you are not ruled out for careless mistakes.

This makes the job of proofreading your CV a crucial one. A cursory glance-over or Microsoft spelling and grammar check just aren’t enough. A methodical and rigorous review is needed, making sure you pick up any spelling, punctuation, grammar, or formatting mistakes before your CV leaves your desk. But, how exactly should you proofread your CV?

The following tips will help you to proofread your CV, enabling you to systemically spot and address any errors before it’s too late.

Leave it Overnight


Tempting as it is to complete the task in one sitting, editing your CV immediately after you’ve written it is not the best idea. Instead, leave it overnight, or a few days if you can, before coming back to review and improve it.


Move Away from Your Desk


Looking at your screen, at your desk, where you have already sat for hours on end, isn’t conducive to the proofreading process. Instead, print your CV and take it to somewhere new. I find that I do my best proofreading in the car, away from all-consuming email and social media. The fresh location and lack of distraction help me to focus.


Read it Aloud


When you read in your head, it’s easy to skim over mistakes. Your brain sees what it wants to see, rather than what’s actually on the page.  Instead, read your CV aloud. It may seem strange at first, but it is the best way to spot any clumsy phrasing, grammatical errors, or duplicated words.

Reading your words aloud is also a good way to check you are confident in owning them. Imagine that your interviewer is quoting from your CV. In this scenario, your words should be entirely familiar and shouldn’t make you uncomfortable in any way.


Section by Section, Line by Line


Reading the whole two pages in one sitting will probably end in you skimming the text, which won’t help you to spot the finer errors. Instead, break the job into bite-size chunks. Even if it seems like it will prolong the proofreading process, it will be worth the effort.

Read each section (contact details, Headline, Profile, Key Skills, Experience, Education, AdditionalInformation, etc.) on a standalone basis, in different sittings if it helps. This way you can bring laser focus to each. It is also worth reading through the section headings and your job title headings on their own, to check they are consistent and error-free. Other single-helping jobs including checking for homophones and common spelling errors*, consistent use of tenses, repeated words, verb repetition, and accuracy of any numbers.

Taking it one stage further, using a ruler as a guide as you move down the CV will help you to focus on each line as you read it, preventing your eyes and attention from racing ahead.

* These can be missed by a spellcheck. Examples include: their/there/they’re, to/too, its/it’s, manager/manger, public/public, compliant/complaint, moral/morale, college/collage, health/heath, patient/patent.


Read it Backwards


The human attention span is short, so even if you start reading at the top of your CV with the best of intentions, you’re likely to start skimming as you move down the page. Try to make a mental note of when you began skimming, then ensure you include the most important messages above this point. Once you have read your CV top-down, read it again from the bottom-up, ensuring page two gets the same care and attention as page one.


Change Font


Looking at the same font for hours and hours can get boring. Instead, try converting your CV into a different font before proofing it. A change of style will freshen it up, encouraging a more focused and critical edit.


Use Grammarly


Online editing tools like Grammarly identify and correct a broad range of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, helping you to achieve a polished and error-free CV. Grammarly checks for over 250 grammar rules, so it’s pretty comprehensive.


Ask a Friend


It’s not a bad idea to have a friend (or two) look at your CV before you send it. An impartial review can help you to gain perspective and can improve your final edit.

Aside from using their fresh eyes to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, you can ask them to sanity check the message your CV conveys. Here are some sample questions to ask:

  • Is your career target clear? What do they perceive that goal to be?
  • Are they convinced of your suitability of that target by reading the first half of page one?
  • Does your CV clearly show how you can help your target employer?
  • Does your Profile describe you, as they know you?
  • Do your bullets explain your particular contribution and achievements?
  • Is the format consistent and visually appealing?
  • Are the font choice and size legible?
  • Is it easy to read, both in terms of skim reading and a deeper read?
  • At what point did they start skim-reading the CV?

If you are happy for the friend to edit your CV, send them a Microsoft Word file with the ‘track changes’ function enabled, so that you can easily see what they change. Otherwise, send a pdf and invite comments by email or telephone.

Having followed these tips, you can be confident that you’ve done a thorough job of proofreading your CV. Correct any mistakes and complete your final edit, then get ready to celebrate a job well done!


Want to Ace Your CV?


Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

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Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

When you are writing your CV, there are plenty of tried-and-tested language guidelines to follow, ensuring you produce a career document that meets expectations and delivers results. These range from minimising adverbs and avoiding clichés to starting bullets with power verbs and front-loading bullets with results. These tactics can definitely improve your CV, but beware. Don’t focus so much on CV language ‘rules’ that you stifle your individuality and make your CV narrow and contained. It needs to represent you as a one-off, an original, and most importantly, a person.

Your CV is about you. You are a person, not a robot. That’s lucky, because the hiring manager wants to hire a person, not a robot. Try not to come across as robotic. Keep it real. Don’t be afraid to let at least some of your authentic self shine through. I’m not suggesting you go crazy, injecting personality via puns, jokes, emoticons, or text speak. On the other hand, you should be comfortable that your CV represents you. It certainly shouldn’t suppress the real you.

It’s like using your telephone voice for business calls. It’s natural to want to present yourself in the most professional way, but it’s hard to sustain in real life, and if all goes to plan, your job application will get real. If your CV sparks interest, then those reviewing it will begin looking for clues about your personality and fit online. They’ll check you out on LinkedIn and hop on over to Facebook and other social networks to look under the bonnet. Then they’ll pick up the phone, and fingers crossed, go on to invite you to an interview. At one or all of these stages, they’ll discover the real you, and the words you use in conversation to describe your career.

Ideally, when this happens, there shouldn’t be a disconnect between your phrasing on your CV and your spoken word. It’s accepted that some people are more articulate in their written word than spoken word and vice-versa, but aim to avoid channelling Russell Brand in one and Jeremy Paxman in the other. Both should represent you as you are.

So, how can you achieve the fine balance between a professionally-written presentation and a poker-straight, impenetrable, and personality-free CV? Try chatting about your work to a friend, family member, or other trusted confidant, and record the conversation. You may cringe at this suggestion, so if listening to a recording of your own voice is beyond comprehension, ask someone to take notes. When you are talking to a person, face-to-face and with natural responses, you are more likely to describe yourself in a clear way that connects with the other person. This can turn up some real gems that you can transfer verbatim to your CV, showing robotic language the door.

Sometimes, if their location allows, I’m lucky enough to sit side-by-side with a client, listening to them share their career stories and describe their professional persona. They don’t use jargon or uptight phrasing; they describe what they offer, as a person, to me in language that is relatable and clear. I tend to note down what they are telling me and there, in amongst the dialogue, are often golden nuggets, phrases that make my heart sing, words that I instantly know should appear on their CV. Their career in their own words, what could be better?

Some people are so concerned about getting their CV right that they end up packing their document with language that doesn’t actually represent them. Don’t let this be you. Remember, your career prospects rest on you as an individual. Without you and your personality, your career wouldn’t exist. In every career story you tell, you were the magic ingredient that made the difference.

It’s your career, so don’t be afraid to tell it in your own words.

Want to ace your CV?

Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

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Five Online Tools to Ace Your Job Search

Five Online Tools to Ace Your Job Search

Once upon a time, a job search was a very physical and arduous process. It often involved a visit to the library to scour the papers and a physically-demanding trek from one prospective workplace to the next, making enquiries and handing over CVs.

No longer, thank goodness! Although some aspects of technology, such as the ATS, have made it trickier for the jobseeker, in general its advancement has opened up many opportunities to define and realise our career goals. In this week’s blog, I’d like to share five time-saving and powerful tools that can support and enhance your job search.


The photo you use to represent you on LinkedIn and other social platforms will invite an instant judgement about you as a potential hire, so it is important to get it right. You can read up on photo blunders to avoid here, but to be really confident about your image choice, check out PhotoFeeler.

The site allows you to seek constructive, customised feedback on potential images, along with trait-based ratings from the carefully-moderated community. Community members can rate you as Competent (Smart, Capable), Likeable (Friendly, Kind), and Influential (Leading, In Charge), and add quick notes on how you come across in photos, along with suggestions to improve your presentation. It’s a free service, in that you earn credits by voting on other users’ photos, then spend them by seeking feedback on your one photo.


Dropbox, Google Docs, and other cloud-based file hosting solutions allow you to access your files wherever you are. In the midst of a job search, it’s a good idea to have ready access to your CV, cover letter, and application materials, enabling you to edit and use them, anytime, anywhere.

You can even create a specific folder for your CV, include and share the link with others as necessary, so that they always have access to the most up-to-date version.Include a range of file types including .doc and .pdf files to ensure you can readily meet target employers’ requirements.

Google Alerts

Keep your finger on the pulse during your job search via Google Alerts. This free tool is quick and easy to set up and will keep you informed of any newly-indexed ‘stories’ on your chosen subject, sending news direct to your inbox. You could set up an alert for your target employer, a specific industry keyword, industry thought leaders, or your own name.


Creating an email signature is easy, it can be free, and it brings a truckload of professionalism to your job search. During any job search, your personal email account will be red hot with traffic, as you send emails to recruiters, gatekeepers, and those within your existing network to secure your next position. This represents a lot of opportunities to promote yourself and your career goals. Using an email signature in your job search is like handing your personal business card to everyone you engage with.

WiseStamp is an email signature generation tool that offers both free and paid-for services to suit your needs. It’s easy to use, allowing you to create and embed a professional email signature in a matter of minutes.

Canva / Picmonkey

One of LinkedIn’s underused features is the background image. This banner image sits at the very top of your profile, behind your profile image, name, and headline. This used to be a Premium feature, but has since been rolled out to free accounts. If your LinkedIn background image is still blank, fill it today. It’s a quick job that can make all the difference to how you are seen on LinkedIn.

Customise Canva’s ready-to-go templates to create a bright and engaging background that brings immediate visual appeal to your profile. The right image can convey an instant message about you, that will be reinforced by your profile content. Alternatively, you can create a banner in PicMonkey (1400 by 425 pixels), which is another intuitive tool.


In today’s job search, it’s more likely that your motivation will wane and your fingers get sore rather than your shoes wear out. Still, there’s always a way to make things easier and I hope these five free power tools will sprinkle a little creative magic, as you seek your next role.

How to list languages on your CV

How to list languages on your CV

In today’s global work environment, language skills are a draw for employers. Detailing your proficiency in desired languages can stand you apart from other similarly-qualified candidates.

When detailing languages on your CV, consider relevance to your target employer. If they have offices in the target country, and you happen to be fluent in that language, list it. On the other hand, if you are considering noting fledging language skills gained from a GCSE course studied a decade or two ago, think twice. Think about how language skills will be useful in your target role, then assess whether your skill level would equip you for that task. If it doesn’t, you may opt to leave them off, or state an intention to develop the required skills through specific training in a defined timescale. For example, if applying for a role based in Paris, stating that you have enrolled in a three-month Business French course is probably more informative than laying claim to conversational French.

If you have some language skills, but don’t wish to use up vital space on your CV, you could always save your language skills for LinkedIn, where a dedicated section is provided. LinkedIn should reflect and enhance the information provided on your CV, so it’s good to give a little more depth here.

How to Explain Language Proficiency

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about how to denote language skills. When listing a language on your CV you could categorise your competency as:

> Basic or beginner

> Conversational or intermediate

> Advanced or proficient

> Fluent, native, or mother tongue

You could also seek inspiration from LinkedIn, which classifies language aptitude levels as elementary proficiency, limited working proficiency, professional working proficiency, full professional proficiency, and native/bilingual proficiency.

Sell Don’t Tell

If your language skills are likely to resonate with your target employer, show them in action throughout your CV. If your languages will be really important to your next role, you could highlight your skills in your profile section by describing yourself as ‘fluent’, ‘multi-lingual’, or ‘bi-lingual’, for example. In your Experience section, give examples of your language skills in action, bringing them to life. For example, you could detail cost savings achieved through negotiations with German-speaking suppliers, or explain how you attracted 10 new prospects at an international trade show.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Don’t oversell your language skills, as this could place you in a very embarrassing situation and, what’s more, compromise your integrity. Instead, as mentioned before, show commitment to securing the necessary skillsets by listing an appropriate ongoing training course.