Part 1/6: The Skeleton Technique (CV Writing Process and Structure)

Dan Johnston, Recruitment and Careers Consultant, London, UK

12 June 2017

Welcome to the very first post of my CV Writing series! In this 6 part series I’m going to show you how you can make your CV stand out from the 100’s of applicants who you will be competing with for each vacancy you apply for.

You’re reading this because you’ve decided to update or write a new CV. Great! But now you find yourself looking at a blank word document and you are unsure where or how to start. This happens to everyone (except the gifted among us of course). Don’t worry there is a quick fix for this (read on!)

I have found the best way to tackle writer’s block is by creating your own writing process and structure. When you finish reading this post you won’t even need to create your own because I am going to give you mine (you can adapt it if you like). You could also use this for updating or writing a new LinkedIn Profile, but for this article and for this series I am going to be more specific towards writing a CV (subscribe to my mailing list using the form below this post and I’ll send you the article series for writing a LinkedIn Profile as soon as it’s done!)

Ok let’s get into it…

Don’t assume that learning how to write a CV is purely a skill for graduates or those in school (a very common assumption!). I have helped some very talented and skilled professionals with a wide variety of experiences (from junior associate level to C-Level staff) write their CV. If it has been a while since you have written a CV, you may want some guidance as to what a CV in today’s job market needs to include. You may find yourself in one of these situations:

  • Facing a sudden redundancy after years of working for your employer
  • Returning to work after a career break
  • Planning a change in jobs or even a different role altogether
  • Applying for a promotion or a different role in your company and your employer requires a CV from you

Either way you are going to need a CV that will make you stand out against 100’s of other competing applicants – the job market is always a very competitive market!


The Skeleton Technique – Breaking your CV down into sections, topics and sub-topics

This is my writing technique and I love it and it get’s things going quickly and effectively.

The Skeleton Technique goes like this (I hope you’re not squeamish!). Open a new word document and plan your CV out like this:

    1. The Bones – write down each section required for your CV. For example; Profile, Professional Experience, Education, Technical Skills etc… (part 2 of this series will go into what sections you should include)
    2. The Organs – Within each section you should plan out your topics. What key information do you want to include within each section of your CV? (part 2 will also cover what topics you could include in each section)
    3. The Muscles – Fill in each topic with notes and bullet points, expanding on the topics you have outlined
    4. The Skin – Finally, put it all together by turning those notes into sentences and completing each part of your CV (including spell and grammar checks, and any final details

I hope this hasn’t made you queasy, but this graphical technique has been really helpful for me when it comes to writing pretty much anything, and it works really well for CV Writing. In the next blog post (Part 2/6: Sections and Topics of your CV – The Bones and Organs) I’ll take you through the following:

  • Sections and section topics to include
  • CV Design Layout and Format
  • Topic layout (Descriptions, Responsibilities, Achievements, Challenges, and Solutions)
  • CV Relevancy Technique

Want to get Part 2 of this series as soon as it’s published? Enter your name and email and I’ll send it straight to you as soon as it’s published!