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Optimising your CV for senior level positions

Careers advice / Wednesday 25 Nov 2015 / Mike Bowyer

As a professional with a number of years’ experience under your belt, you’ll know how to write a CV. List of skills? Check. Start and end dates? Check. Proofread for spelling errors? Check.

However, as you start reaching for the higher rungs of the career ladder, you’ll find that recruiters and employers look at your CV in a different way. In order to impress them and secure your next step up, you’ll need to do more that list your skills and responsibilities.

We’ve outlined below four key features that differentiate a mid/senior level professional’s CV from that of a junior candidate.


At mid to senior level, information about your achievements is much more interesting than a comprehensive list of your responsibilities. Achievements demonstrate how good you are at your job, so include a section highlighting important ones in your career to date. This could include awards, issued patents, invitations to speak at conferences, and successful projects. In the case of the latter, make sure to describe the context, goals, actions and result.

Tailored summary

As the positions you apply for become more specialised, your CV should become increasingly tailored for each one. Consider what makes the role unique, and use the summary section to explain how you’re a good fit for it. You should also highlight your unique selling points here, ensuring they are demonstrable and relevant. Above all, be specific; avoid generic descriptions and buzz words like enthusiastic, exceptional or hard working.

Supporting documents

Your CV should be three pages maximum, but you can provide links to online publications and projects. Bear in mind the issue of access; if you link to an article in a subscription only journal then not everyone will be able to read it. In this case, consider including an appendix of supporting documents instead. Don’t forget to keep an up-to-date list of publications and projects on your LinkedIn profile too – see our blog Optimising your LinkedIn profile for job offers.

Technical language

Some people worry that recruiters will have trouble understanding technical language, and this can be true of generalist recruiters. However, the language on your CV should be as technical as the role you’re applying for, so as to demonstrate your knowledge and specialism. It’s therefore best to use a specialist recruiter who has a good understanding of your industry or field.

James Cox, Hobson Prior’s Quality and Medical Team Manager, sums up his advice as: “Keep your CV concise and targeted, and draw attention to your differentiators. From my perspective, I want to see what the candidate has achieved in their previous roles, and what they hope to achieve by moving to another”.

Careers advice / Wednesday 25 Nov 2015 / Mike Bowyer