Writing a Good CV

Advice on How to Attract Interest and Secure a Construction Job Interview

Taking time to prepare a good CV is the best way to make sure recruiters sit up and take notice of your application immediately.

We have put together some suggestions to have you impress employers on paper as much as you intend to at the interview stage.

The Maxim Recruitment CV Template

If you like the CV advice we suggest here, please download our 2020 Maxim CV template as a suggested layout and checklist of sections to include. You can complete it at your leisure and submit it to us via the Maxim Recruitment website when you are happy with it.

What is the Best Order for a Good Construction CV?

We believe that most construction employers prefer the following order of CV content:

  • Your contact details
  • Profile/personal statement -optional
  • Professional qualifications
  • Education
  • Employment history
    Most recent experience first - this is most relevant and deserves the most detail
  • Additional information
    e.g. IT skills, hobbies
  • Reference details

What Content is Needed?

  • Contact Details 
    Include your name, address, email, and preferred telephone number prominently on the top of your CV and summary details on every page in the header or footer.
  • Profile/Personal Statement - Optional
    It is easy to do more harm than good in this first impression summary. Use the keywords and terms that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Check that you have only stated what you actually substantiate later in the CV. Avoid clichés at all costs; if you use words such as dynamic, ambitious, or career-minded, provide evidence to back up what you are saying. This section can be best when punchy bullet points of your 3-6 most impressive achievements are listed e.g.
    • Experience of the analysis and valuation of rail maintenance work from pre-contract stage to final account settlement.
    • Able to prepare complex and detailed final account variation claims of up to £5M in value
    • Extensive experience in the preparation of monthly management figures, and also monthly reports for managing director on past, current, and future project status.
  • Qualifications
    Give full and abbreviated titles. State if incomplete or ongoing e.g.
    • BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying, Reading University, 1993-1997
    • Diploma in Project Management, Portsmouth University (2004-Present) Distance Learning
  • Education
    Reduce detail as the qualifications become less recent or important
  • Employment History
    Give enough relevant information about your previous employers and projects to interest the reader, but not enough to send them to sleep. The best candidate CVs summarises a wealth of knowledge and experience in a concise and engaging fashion.
  • List your duties, responsibilities and the reporting structure you worked within and any unusual features of your role or project or experience e.g. Responsibility for the commercial management of all projects run from the southern area office. Working with the Area Manager in leading a team of 3 Quantity Surveyors and 7 Site Agents - forecast annual turnover of £7 million. Reporting divisional results/performance directly to the Operations Manager, Managing Quantity Surveyor and Commercial Director.
  • Provide the technical project information that is relevant to your experience in the context of the employer it refers to e.g. Project Details:
    £3.5M Road Contract Using NEC Option C 
    48 week contract period
    Client: The Highways Agency
  • Use this information to substantiate claims made in other parts of your CV about your type of experience and your competences.
  • Focus on the benefits of the experience you have gained, rather than on the features of it. e.g. Having used NEC contract form while a Senior Quantity Surveyor on the CTRL over the last 18months, I am now ready to take up my first Managing Quantity Surveyor role on the London Underground rail renewal projects I am applying for…
  • Be confident in the use of ‘active’ words such as led, organised, etc e.g. Led a team of 3 Intermediate Quantity Surveyors on the National Physical Laboratories PFI Contract…Responsible for the external envelope (£9m) and management and procurement of internal partitioning sub-contractors (£4m).
  • Indicate the benefits of your contributions to the efficient running of your previous employers’ projects e.g. In 2001 I co-founded and successfully established a Project Management Consulting division. In addition to PM services, it also comprised Planning and Programme Management; Risk, Value and Project Facilitation streams. I helped to grow this division from £180k fee income in year one to a £1.6 million business unit after only two years. The newly formed team grew from 3 consultants to 12 during the same period.
  • Avoid exaggerating any facts or information
  • Consider preparing different CVs, each with a different emphasis if you are targeting different types of job or employer
  • Ensure that you have mentioned your current and desired job titles and specialist key words frequently. If you are a: Value Engineer, PFI Consultant, Senior Quantity Surveyor or a Risk Manager, then make it clearly apparent. This will result in your details being retrieved higher up the list from electronic database searches. You will then be contacted quicker for more suitable jobs.
  • Include the names of all generalist and specialist construction software you are experienced in, and your level of proficiency e.g.
    • Primavera (Daily User)
    • Suretrack (Working Knowledge)
    • MS Project (Working Knowledge)
    • Siteman (Basic knowledge)

References

It is adequate to state ‘Available on Request’ at the end. However, if you have already made inquiries and know who is happy to be a referee, it is worth adding them now. Recent references are most appropriate in normal circumstances.

Summary of Content Required

When writing content, ask yourself, “What would you want to know about if you were seeking to recruit someone for the level of position you are applying for?” Focus your content in this direction.

Format & Layout 

  • Consider the layout of your CV carefully, and the first impression it gives
  • Leave your CV uncluttered from distracting italics, capitals and colours.
  • Many benefits can be gained from using bullet points, bold font and underlining to emphasize the most important information
  • Don't just send in a cobbled-together LinkedIn CV from years ago. Any good recruiter or employer will bounce that back as an expression of interest only and request a full CV to allow you to be seriously considered and matched to a job role

Checking

It is vital to spell check your CV for typing and spelling errors.  Also, grammar and flow should be checked to ensure that your construction CV reads well.  Check you have your computer software checking what you are writing using the correct English settings relevant to your country of application ( UK English / American English etc.)

NEXT STEPS

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