Writing winning CVs

During the last 10 years of preparing winning tenders and expressions of interest documents for major construction and engineering projects, one thing has consistently reared its problematic head – CVs.

The main focus of the document writers and content providers is often on the technical aspects of the project, methodology, project experience, commercial offer and even value for money. These are the aspects that technical people are comfortable working with.

CVs are then often a distraction from what they perceive is the main game. The CVs are often the generic corporate CV shoehorned into whatever format the client has asked for – and often crammed into one or two pages. And yet, the team is often the number one scoring tender criteria. How does the client assess the team members? On their CVs of course! CVs are therefore extremely important.

I have developed the following format to:

  • highlight feature/benefit/proof of the person’s fit with the project
  • include succinct/factual statements – there is nothing worse than having to stretch the truth to fill gaps in a CV template!

Completing the template will take some work. However, if the person is a good fit for the role, it should be a fact gathering exercise, rather than a creative writing exercise. Most of the information should be able to be gathered through phone interviews, and then through a final fact-checking review of the draft CV document by the person.

So in an ideal world, what information should a winning CV contain? Based on my experience, the following template.

Project position

Photo (headshot – get decent photos!)

Key tasks

  • list key tasks to be performed/delivered on the project.

Personal profile

One or two paragraphs each on:

  • summary statement of previous experience and personal style (feature)
  • how experience can be applied to the project; describe the person’s ‘fit’ with the project (benefit)
  • example of results previously achieved (proof).

Testimonial statement from a client (if possible).


  • list (include qualification, institution and date).

Project experience

Three projects or the last five years of projects – focus on relevant projects/aspects. Repeat the project format for other projects the person has worked on.

Project role #1
Project name #1

(Include small project image if available and space permits)

Client: (name)
Value: (final value — do not adjust for inflation as the project dates will indicate relative value)
Date: (dates actually worked on the project)

Overview of project #1 (one paragraph)

Relevance to current project (one paragraph) (benefit)

Key tasks (feature)

  • list key tasks the person performed


  • list two (proof)


  • List two recent and relevant referees with contact details. Contact the referee to make sure they are happy being listed, and so that they are not surprised by getting a phone call!