First impressions last – why your CV matters!

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6 minute read

A CV is usually our first point of contact with a candidate for a role at AJ Bell, and it makes a big first impression on the person who reads it – typically one of our Recruitment Team. Our Recruiters spend much of their time looking through CVs and online profiles, so the more a CV can stand out for the right reasons, the better a candidate’s chance of being short-listed for interview.

As Recruiters, we’re looking to see not only someone’s career and education history on a CV, but we’re also keen to understand a bit more about who they are, why they have applied for a particular role at AJ Bell and what their career goals are. So, don’t be afraid to share the good stuff with us! We’d encourage every candidate to think of their CV as a personal marketing tool that is ‘selling’ the reason why they are the best person for the job.

Some of you reading this blog may have written your CV many times over the years; some of you may be writing one for the first time. Whatever your personal situation, here are some key pointers that can really make your CV stand out.


  • Read the job advert carefully – take some time to understand what the role involves and what skills and experience are required.
  • Tailor your CV to the role. You might end up with a few different versions of your CV, but that’s ok.
  • Keep it to a maximum of 2 or 3 pages in length.
  • Ask a friend or family member to proofread your CV after you’ve written and spell-checked it. Poor grammar, spelling and punctuation are some of many reasons a CV is rejected at application stage.

Now … about you

  • List your name at the top of the first page. You don’t need to write ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ – save yourself a line!
  • Add your contact details under your name – phone number and email address are essential. You don’t need to list your full address if you don’t want to: your current location (town/city) is plenty for a CV. If we invite you to interview, you’ll be asked to complete an application form and you can give your address at that point.
  • You may want to include a link to your LinkedIn profile (remember to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date if you do).

Personal profile

  • Write a brief personal profile/statement – typically it appears underneath your name and contact details. Include qualities that match you to the role. You can get inspiration for the profile/statement from a quick search online – Google is your friend!

Career history

  • Provide an overview of your current and/or previous jobs, internships and any work experience.
  • List them in order of most recent first then work backwards.
  • Include the job title, the employer, dates – bullet point key achievements, skills and responsibilities you want to bring to our attention. Use facts and figures to support these.
  • If you have many years’ experience, you can reduce the detail of old or irrelevant roles.
  • We’d also recommend accounting for any gaps in your career history.

Education and qualifications

  • Like your career history, list your education and qualifications with the most recent first and work back.
  • Include the name of the place you studied (or professional body) and dates, followed by the qualifications and grades you received.
  • If the role you’re applying for requires particular grades or qualifications, make sure you detail them as requested – it’s one of the quickest ways to show that you’re qualified for a role.
  • Don’t forget to include UCAS points if you’re asked for them – if we had £1 for each person who forgets this for roles such as Trainee Accountant or Apprentices, we’d be quite well off by now!

Extra! Extra!

You can add extras to your CV, such as hobbies and interests – think about what you’d like to include here as some of your interests outside of work and/or education can give us an idea if you’d be a good fit for AJ Bell. For example, if you’ve applied for a Service Desk role and you’re someone who enjoys repairing laptops in their spare time, you’ve got some relevant skills and experience you could list that would give you the edge over other candidates.

As a final bit of guidance for the ‘extras’, there’s no need to supply details of referees – we’ll ask you for those when you’re invited for interview.

Leave it out!

And here’s what you shouldn’t include on your CV – we don’t need these details when you apply for a role:

  • Photos.
  • Age and date of birth.
  • Marital status and dependants.

Always make sure that whatever you include on your CV is factually correct and accurate, including your exam grades and professional qualifications – if you’re offered a role at AJ Bell, we do check.

And … don’t forget a covering letter/note if the advert asks for one!

Coming back to an earlier point, there’s plenty of guidance and inspiration for CVs online. Getting your CV right will help you to get to interview stage and means you get the job you want more quickly.

Good luck – and we look forward to receiving your CV soon!