Insider advice

Getting the tone right in your CV

Director of CV Writers, Neville Rose, advises on how to strike the right tone of language in your CV

Phone animation

As the old saying goes, ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.’ This is also true for a CV. Subtle voice intonation can mean the same words sometimes carry very different meanings. Whilst the written word may not be as dynamic as speech in this regard, we can still shape and influence the reader by how we write a CV.

Your CV is likely to be scan read in less than 30 seconds. Therefore, you need to excite the reader with your words in order to engage their attention. Using action words like accelerated, driven or led help to evoke a sense of how you can change things and make a difference.

Manage your tone with the four Ps

You want your CV to show confidence whilst not appearing over-the-top. You want your achievements to shine without overselling them. You want to appear professional but also personable. The great thing is you can control all these things by managing the tone of your CV.

You need to excite the reader with your words in order to engage their attention



You want to exude positivity, leaving no room for question marks or grey areas. Your CV is about getting you an interview, so everything should be focused towards this goal. You may be surprised at how potential concerns can evaporate once you are face-to-face with a new employer.


A CV is often the first contact you will have with a potential new employer. First impressions count. Your CV helps shape an employer’s perception of you, so make sure it looks professional with consistent formatting, has clearly labelled headings and there is a good use of white space. And make sure there are no typos.

Establish drive and energy that steers the reader through the CV quickly



Your CV should reflect your personal brand; nobody has the same career history as you or your unique personal qualities. Allow your individualism to shine through, don’t fall back on recruitment clichés, and say something different and be bold.


Use as few words as possible. With such a short amount of time spent reading a CV, don’t labour points. Establish drive and energy that steers the reader through your CV quickly. Cut out unnecessary clutter and don’t have lots of detail on old, historical jobs. Focus on your most recent experiences.

CV Writers offer a CV writing service as well as support with LinkedIn profiles, cover letters and more. It provides a free CV review service via its website

Image credit: Shutterstock