First impressions count

Your CV provides a prospective employer with their first impression of you so make sure it is as good as it can be. If there are any mistakes or problems with your CV you are unlikely to be given the chance to explain. Here are some handy Dos and Don'ts when writing your CV.

Typos & grammatical errors

Silly mistakes will make you seem careless and can distract the reader's attention from the content of an otherwise well-written document.  Mistakes in your grammar can also give the impression that you are unable to communicate effectively. Good communication and attention to detail are skills that employers often look for so make sure your CV is perfect.  Even if you are a confident writer, it can still be almost impossible to spot mistakes in your own work - always ask someone to double-check your CV.  

Poor layout 

The layout of your CV shows your prospective employer your presentation skills, so appearences are important. It is no longer necessary to head the page with 'Curriculum Vitae' as it will be obvious what the document is. Instead head it with your name, centred and in a large, bold, clear font for real impact.

You should be concise and use an easy-to-read font throughout.  Take some time to consider the best way to lay out the information and order the content into logical sections.  If information is scattered around the page then it will be hard to follow and make you appear disorganised.

Avoid shading, complex formatting, gimmicks, pictures and colours, etc. as they will not read, copy or scan well.  Simplicity of design will help your CV to look like the professional document that it is. Show your CV to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it clear and visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise it.

Tailoring your CV to fit the job

By developing a one-size-fits-all CV to send to every employer, you could end up with something employers throw in the bin. You need to spoon feed a potential employer and make it fast and easy for them to see how well-suited you are to the job on offer.  This does not mean that you need to write a new CV for every job but rather that you should emphasise particular parts of your career history that are relevant to each position.  

A short 'Personal Profile' or 'Key Skills' section at the top of your CV is easy to edit for each application.  For example you can highlight the retail experience you have when your CV is for an accounts manager at a shop, and then change it to mention your exports experience when applying for a job within the finance department of a large global company.

Do not include irrelevant detail about the intracacies of your previous jobs - you only need to provide information that demonstrates how you have gained skills relevant to the job in question.

For example, don't go on about everything you did whilst organising the Tithwich Town Hall Tuesday Morning Mothers n' Babies Singing Contest if you can instead say 'Budgeting and managing ticket inventory for community events'.  Of course you would describe this role differently if you were applying for a job as an Events Organiser or Childcare Assistant.

Avoid job-specific jargon

If your last employer had a TACRN system and you used it for GHEI campaigns in the QUARS process it's unlikely that any future employer will find that information useful.  Instead consider writing something that explains the benefit of the experience, for example you could describe the role as requiring you to learn several software programmes including a proprietory accounts programme.

Personal Profile

Having a short personal profile at the top of your CV is a great way to catch the employer's interest when they are scanning through hundreds of CVs.  It's a short three or four sentence selling-statement summing up your career, background, areas of expertise, key skills and motivations, whilst conveying a little of your personality. You can use it to sell yourself by summarising your relevant skills and personal attributes. The "personal profile" is also an opportunity for you to highlight your career aims.

Contact Details

Nowadays it is common for CVs to be requested by email or online through a job site.  When you send your CV make sure that you follow the instructions given.  Attaching a CV to a blank email is a waste of an opportunity to send a tailored cover note and, if you are sending your CV by email, make sure that you have written in the subject box your name and the job you are applying for. Always double check the contact details on your CV to make sure they are correct. Try to keep your email address sensible; is unlikely to impress a potential employer.

Good luck!


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