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Making an Impact with your CV

Pauline Aitken - 31/07/2017

Making an Impact with your CV

Creating Your CV - which you can now upload to!

Firstly you need to think about what you want to achieve from your CV. In today’s economic climate it is how you sell yourself and differentiate yourself from others that counts. Your CV is your advertising brochure, it should make an immediate impact, create interest and encourage the reader to find out more about you and ultimately, it should create interviews for you.

As your CV can create opportunities for you, it is well worth investing the necessary time to get it right. You need to ensure your CV sells you in the most effective way and that you have made it easy for the reader to find the relevant information.

You should ensure you understand the role you are applying for and make certain the content of your CV reflects the necessary skills and experience sought in a positive and concise way.

Whilst constructing your CV, you need to give thought to the type of role and practice you will be applying for (general practice; mixed or specific species, internships & specialist work, locum, charity practice, industry or government departments etc) as this will determine the information and the emphasis of the information that will be contained within your CV. You need to ensure you emphasise your most relevant skills, for example, there is no point highlighting skills and experience you gained in equine work, if you only wish to apply for and work with purely small animals. It is appropriate to mention this experience, but as your small animal experience is far more relevant, it should be this that you emphasise, and it should appear first on your CV followed by your other experience in order of relevance. 

Remember CV’s are not read in detail, they are initially scanned for relevant information, and only when it catches the attention of the reader, will they then be encouraged to read your full CV. The reader needs to quickly find relevant information they can relate to and that matches their needs in order to encourage them to make a subconscious decision to read on or want to find out more about you (invite you to interview). It is therefore important that you don’t just regurgitate job descriptions, nor duties and responsibilities, and instead communicate achievements and benefits, along with what you have to offer. If you make it too difficult for the employer to find the relevant information, they could simply dismiss you. This is where layout and content become very important. 

CV Presentation - First Impressions Count!

As your key marketing tool, both the presentation and content of your CV is very important. You have literally seconds to create a positive and professional impression. Layout needs to be clear and the communication concise to enable whoever is screening your CV to extract relevant information very quickly.

Remember... Presentation is Everything!


 Keep your CV concise and relevant

    • Keep the layout clear and simple
    • Use good quality, A4 paper for your CV and covering letters
    • Print one side only
    • Use black ink
    • Use a clear and simple typeface at a minimum of ten points
    • Use bold typeface to make an impact with headings such as job titles
    • Check your CV for spelling and grammar mistakes – always a good idea to ask someone else to check it too



  • Use graphics such as fancy borders – it distracts from relevant content
  • Use italics or difficult to read typefaces
  • Use too many different font sizes to make an impact – use bold type
  • Include a photograph of yourself
  • Submit poorly photocopied CV’s

CV Content - Make sure you sell yourself to your target audience!

Your CV should contain only relevant information. It should be concise; containing enough information to generate interest and encourage and motivate the practice to find out more about you.

Ensure your CV is weighted in favour of your most recent and relevant experience and reflects what the practice is looking for.


  • Follow CV etiquette – never use ‘I’ within your CV.
    • Market your key skills and especially your practical experience and where appropriate, use numbers to emphasise the amount of experience i.e 10 bitch spays, 20 cat neuters.
    • Use bullet points to describe your skills and expertise; long sentences and paragraphs make it more difficult for employers to find information and discourages them from reading your full CV. 
    • Use action orientated words to make your CV more interesting eg) "performed" or "conducted" rather than saying "did"
  • Use action verbs to communicate your achievements eg) "assisted", "castrated", "vaccinated", "stitched" etc.
  • Use titles that reflect the scope of your experience and responsibilities
  • Differentiate yourself from other colleagues and graduates; emphasise your practical experience with cases/procedures you have carried out on your own, assisted with and those you have observed.
  • Detail the equipment & “toys” you are comfortable using; x-rays, digital imaging, lab equipment etc.
  • Represent the truth – never exaggerate or tell mistruths.
  • Include your personal details: date of birth, marital status etc especially if it is relevant to the role.
  • Include hobbies and interests especially if they help promote you.
  • Ensure you make it easy for the employer to contact you - mobile no and e-mail address as well as your home details.


  • Include unnecessary information that does not market you i.e details on your partner, their; name, occupation, number of years married etc.
  • Create a negative impact by leaving gaps in your employment history – explain and justify any necessary gaps.
  • Include hobbies or interests that could invoke a negative reaction.

Customising your CV

Your CV should be adapted and customised when applying to specific roles or different practice types, in order to highlight your most relevant experience and key achievements to the particular role in question.

It is important not to assume employers will know the amount of experience you have – you need to tell them!

Graduates vary significantly in the amount of practical experience they have gained and therefore it is important for you to emphasise and highlight this, to differentiate yourself.  Detail the practical skills you gained:  working voluntarily, seeing practice, EMS, holiday / weekend experience, locum work, etc. If you don’t document your experience employers will assume you are “an average graduate” with little or no real practical experience.

Developing Your CV

Your CV is representing and promoting you and therefore you need to have a clear idea of:-

    • The “product” you are selling – i.e. are you equine, small or large animal orientated – medicine or surgically biased, etc?
    • Who you are selling to and what are their needs? - What skills are they looking for?
    • How are you going to position yourself – what relevant experience and practical skills will you use to communicate and demonstrate the scope of your experience?
    • What are your key marketable and transferable skills?
    • What practice types will benefit most from your skills, experience and areas of interest?


Key Selling Messages...

You need to demonstrate your key skills (marketable & transferable). Think about your career so far (you may find it easier to break it down into different chunks, i.e 1st year at University, 2nd year and so on, or your individual practice placements, electives, EMS, voluntary work, etc). Think about each in turn and identify the experience gained and in turn the achievements you had within each one, and then think about the benefits those achievements delivered.  These achievements and benefits are classed as your “key selling messages”.

Where possible quantify your achievements in terms of contributions to the practice, the team, the pet owner or the patient.

Key selling messages tell potential employers what you can do for them, hence giving them an incentive to buy you.
They also create a greater impact.


... a graduate, applying to an advert for a small animal vet where, the practice requires someone with good routine surgical skills...

Candidate 1 : "Graduate Veterinary Surgeon with strong interest in small animals, who has gained practical experience through small animal elective".

Candidate 2 : Graduate Veterinary Surgeon, competent with routine surgeries, able to contribute quickly, having performed over 60 routine surgical procedures (Spays, Neuters and lump removals).

Based simply on the above information candidate 2 looks far more proactive and therefore the better hire. Candidate 2 made an immediate impact and the employer can quickly see the benefits of hiring them. Consider also that Candidate 1 & 2 could equally be the same person, highlighting even more so, the importance of customising your CV and ensuring you market yourself effectively. 

Think about producing a list of “key selling messages” for the roles/placements that you have held, these can be inserted and removed and even re arranged within your CV, in order of relevance and importance to the role you are applying for. This way you do not have to rewrite your CV from scratch each time you apply for a new role. Think of your electronic CV as an electronic filing cabinet storing a selection of key achievements and key selling messages that you can quickly utilise, to customise your CV.

It is worth spending time to produce your “Key selling Messages” as not only will you use them in your CV, you can also use them at interview to demonstrate your key skills and experience, as well as in covering letters to sell yourself more effectively.

Composing Your CV

When composing your CV you may find it easier to start with a job title, listing the duties and responsibilities for that role. Next identify the skills required to carry out those duties and responsibilities. Finally you need to identify your achievements that will demonstrate those required skills.  It is these achievements (key selling messages) that will appear on your CV and not duties and responsibilities. This will sell you more effectively.

The secret is to sell yourself in the most effective manner; take time to think carefully about the key skills that would be required for the role you are applying for, or the practice you are speculatively applying to. Remember there are different types of skills sought by employers i.e. the skills sought for a small animal surgical vet, will differ from those required of a consulting small animal vet, providing mainly first opinion care. If your CV demonstrates your surgical achievements, and you apply for a first opinion role, you are sending out unnecessary negative signals (will you be motivated and challenged delivering first opinion treatment, or is this just a job to you and not your ideal role and therefore how long are you likely to stay in the role?) which, could result in the practice not relating to, nor buying into your experience straight away.

You are therefore not selling yourself in the most effective way nor are you making the greatest impact – First Impressions Count!

Remember you will be up against other competition and if they sell themselves and sell the right skills by speaking the right language, they will appear more relevant and are more likely to be invited to interview.

Reviewing Your CV

On completion of your first draft, review your CV. Be critical – look through the eyes of a potential employer.

  • It is attractively laid out?
  • Can you extract information quickly and easily?
  • Does it convey the overall impact you desire?
  • Have you pitched yourself at the right level – if not this will be discovered at interview?
  • Is it a truthful and accurate reflection of your experience, skills and achievements? 
  • Are you selling the right skills and experience to the right target audience?
  • Is it evident what benefits and value add you have delivered previously
  • Are you speaking in a language the recipient will understand – ensure your CV does not contain any jargon.
  • Can your CV be enhanced by some revision? if so invest the time! 

On completing your CV ask a trusted friend to review it for spelling, grammar and also to gain their thoughts on how it looks and reads.

Now you have a completed CV and are ready to enthusiastically market yourself, don’t forget to keep a record of the applications you make: who you sent your CV to, the position you applied for, the date of your application, and the responses received back. This will prevent you duplicating applications and enable you to be better informed when following up applications and indeed for subsequent interviews.

CV Builder

Full Name:

Full Postal Address:

Contact Tel No.:

E-mail Address:

Profile :  This is your advertising banner – use it to promote yourself by communicating what you can offer to your target audience (practice types).

Your profile should gain attention and generate interest.

It can be used to customise applications to highlight particularly relevant skills and expertise when applying for specific roles or to practice types.

Key Skills Summary

  • Present a list of 4 -5 sharp feature & benefit statements promoting your key skills.
  • Highlight skills and use language that will gain the attention of the practices you are targeting.
  • Promote features (practical skills and expertise) that a practice will want to buy.
  • Use action orientated language – verbs are doing words – they are energetic and therefore provide more impact.
  • Use this section to customise your CV to specific practice types and / or roles.



Provide a brief overview of the Practice: i.e) Busy, Modern, Tier Status, Referral, Practice Type etc

CURRENT JOB TITLE AND DATES                                                              

Provide a brief overview of your role objective (no more than two lines)

Provide a summary of your key responsibilities and achievements whilst there. Ensure that they are aligned to your key skills summary.

  • Use brief statements to describe key responsibilities and achievements – present in bullet point format to make an impact and ensure information can be easily extracted.
  • Do not regurgitate job descriptions or activities – demonstrate how well you performed by communicating your achievements along with the resultant benefits.
  • Demonstrate cases/ procedures you gained exposure to, highlight complicated or interesting ones and your learning outcomes.
  • When explaining achievements ensure that you provide the outcome to maximise the impact of your success. i.e) Improved surgical techniques and speed.
  • Use action orientated language – it is energetic and positive.


 Provide a brief overview of the practice(s).

Provide a brief overview of your role objective (no more than two lines) 

  • Provide brief statements describing responsibilities and key achievements whilst there.
  • Provide less information for less relevant placements.


Here highlight any relevant experience you gained seeing practice, working on a voluntary basis prior to attending University.  Use this section to briefly promote your additional experience. (Working at stables prior to becoming an equine vet is not only relevant and adds more depth to your experience but also demonstrates commitment to your chosen field).


Place your highest level of qualification first (if you have a professional qualification or hold professional status provide highest level first).


Training/CPD should be included before education if it is more relevant to the position you are applying for.

You are applying to an Exotics practice and have completed CPD in this area this is more relevant as an assumption will be made that you will hold a Veterinary Degree.

Provide relevant course details and dates completed.


Date of Birth:

Marital Status:

Hobbies & Interests:

This article was provided by Recruit 4U - Veterinary recruitment specialists.  You can now upload your CV to and let the jobs come to you!  For more information CLICK HERE.



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