How to Drastically Improve Your CV

I used to offer career coaching to technical people (such as myself then) who wanted to change jobs or change job roles altogether.

I don’t do this so much anymore, but felt the standard process I had them follow was worth publishing here for anyone else who may have a similar desire.

Below is the process and questions I used with career coachees to gather together CV feedback and use it for re-positioning and making sure it was in the top 5% of all similar CVs.

If you’re up for the challenge “pull out all stops” and get the following started.


1. Initial research and feedback into current CV 

360 review

Ask 3 people you have (or have previously) worked with closely to answer the following questions and email you their response. It doesn’t need to take them a long time and it’s best to explain a bit about why you are asking.

  • What are my strengths
  • Think of a time (or times) when I appeared most most happy at work
  • What was it that made me happy
  • What makes me stand out from other people around you
  • What would be the benefit of hiring me in your opinion

CV Feedback

From 3 different people who are in a position to hire (any role, not just your role) and have done interviewing before, follow a similar approach but ask them to answer the following questions (attach the CV you most use / feel is the best match).

  • What is your first impression on opening
  • What role do you think is being applied for with the CV
  • What strengths are demonstrated by the CV
  • What is distinctive and stands out about the candidate from the CV
  • Would you consider inviting the candidate in for an interview based on the CV? (for the role you believe it most suits).  If no, please explain why and what would need to be done

Job Adverts

Collect together 3 job ads you have applied for recently and feel are a good match for yourself (also a quick comment on why).


2. Edit / update / redo your CV

Use the information and feedback collected to update your CV.

Periodically seek subsequent feedback from the people you approached earlier in Stage 1 above.


3. Shortlist a “panel” of 3x recruitment agents 

Find 3x recruitment agents that you know well enough (and who speak honestly) that you feel comfortable sending your improved CV to.


4. Email the recruitment agents asking for their feedback on your new CV

Hello <recruiter name>,

I’d be grateful if you could have a look at my new CV and answer a few quick questions (brief bullet point answers ok) based on your first impressions.

In the most truthful of ways, please could you tell me:

  • What are your first impression upon opening / what strikes you most about the CV?
  • What kind roles do you think I’m applying for (or what roles do you think the CV is most suitable for)?
  • What does the CV illustrate / demonstrate about me?
  • Would you consider bringing myself in for an interview based on the CV? (for the roles above). If not, please explain why?
  • Does it fall in the top 5% of similar CVs?

Many thanks, and happy to repay your time in kind if there is something I can help with.


Frank Ray

Frank Ray & Associates is a software engineering consultancy that builds high quality software for businesses.

We develop new applications, automate manual processes, integrate vendor packages, replace Excel workarounds, fix unreliable applications, retire end of life software and remove dependence on poor value suppliers.

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