Writing a CV

The CV  (Resume) is your own personal marketing document and deserves the utmost care and attention. Keep it up to date and each time you apply to an employer check that it is tailored to the job specification.

Most CVs are speed-read in about 60 seconds, so limit yourself to one page and make sure every word carries weight – an ability to condense information is a skill in itself.

Use this checklist to help make your vital first impression count:


    • List your most recent work experience or educational course first and work backwards chronologically from there. Some recruiters find other CV formats hard to follow and suspect you may be covering up flaws


    • Stress your achievements, not your responsibilities. Think hard about your work experience or college activities and show how it developed qualities the employer is looking for


    • Avoid tame, non-committal language and passive constructions. Replace any passive or negative language with positive, direct and vigorous vocabulary


    • Avoid phrases using I, me and my. It may seem odd to write incomplete sentences but simply omitting unnecessary words helps employers scan your CV more efficiently


      Be on the look out for easily confused words, for example: effect (means result), affect (means to influence). Use uncomplicated vocabulary and if in doubt, check a dictionary or style guide


      Salary information, like sex, age or race, has no place on a CV. Employers will not ignore a suitable candidate if they won’t discuss pay


    • Check your draft CV thoroughly and get a second opinion. Misspellings, misused words and grammatical mistakes are avoidable yet fatal oversights


    • Use a simple font, such as Times, Palatino, Arial or Helvetica. Use good quality plain white paper and a laser printer

The perfect CV is nothing without a letter that captures the reader’s attention. Our crib sheet on covering letters gives advice on how to make a letter come alive and avoid some common pitfalls.

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career, CV, jobsearch, resume