committed to long-term relationships

CV Tips

A CV or Curriculum Vitae is the first thing that any prospective recruitment consultant or employer will read before considering short listing you for an interview. It is therefore imperative that it gives off the right first impression, and presents your experience in the best light possible.

Employers, especially in the current difficult employment market, frequently have hundreds of CVs in response to a single job advertisement, and because of this will typically only scan CVs quickly before deciding whether to short list them for more detailed reading. Unless yours stands out from the crowd there is a chance that you won’t even reach the next stage of the recruitment process, no matter how suitable you are for the role!

Because a carefully written CV is so essential in today's job market, our expert recruitment consultants have put together a list of top 10 tips for compiling your Curriculum Vitae in order to help you get a head start in finding your perfect job:

1. Presentation

First impressions matter. If a CV is badly laid out or hard to read, a potential employer may not even take the time to read through it. Use a standard font (such as Ariel or Times New Roman) and stick to it, and keep your font size within reason (typically size 10 to 12) Large sections of text are often off-putting to read, so ensure that you break it up, and don’t waffle! Bullet points are acceptable (although don’t overdo it – make sure there is also substance to your CV).

2. Lay Out

Most CVs use the following headings in this order:

  1. Personal Details - including contact details (see point 3 below) and nationality. If you are a non EU national then clarify the visa or work permits you hold to confirm you are entitled to work in the UK.
  2. Personal Profile - a short introductory paragraph, highlighting your key skills, although do keep this short as this tends to be quite subjective and intangible, so expand instead on any specific achievements in the relevant Experience / Career / Employment section
  3. Education & Qualifications (include subjects, grades and dates, ideally in reverse chorological order). Please note, if your qualifications are not particularly great, you may wish to start with Experience ahead of this section.
  4. Experience / Career / Employment History (this also needs to be in reverse chronological order – see point 5, Work Backwards below). Ensure you specify your job title, employer and dates employed, with a new section if you were promoted. Explain briefly the nature and size of the business (e.g. a £20M turnover Telecommunications Company specialising in Small to Medium size businesses etc) as it could well be relevant to the job you are applying for. Always include any achievements relevant to this experience.
  5. Any additional Information e.g. IT Skills (list packages and competency in each), First Aid Training, etc
  6. Personal Interests - your hobbies demonstrate you are a more rounded individual, and you may have achievements outside of work (a charity bike ride perhaps). These interests may even strike a chord with the reader of the CV, giving you an advantage.
  7. Professional References (usually from your two most recent employers)

3. Contact Details

It is surprising how many people submit a CV without putting a contact phone number or email address on it. You may have the most perfect CV in the world, but without any way of getting in touch, you won't be getting the job!

It is advisable to always include an email address as well as a phone number, as many businesses are now increasingly using email as their preferred method of contact. If you do not already have one, it is advisable to set yourself up with a professional email address rather than giving out the one that you set up when you were 16! ('[email protected]' or '[email protected]' does not give off the best impression to a future employer!).

Also if you have a mobile number as well as a landline always include both,

4. Relevance

A CV should be tailored towards whatever job you are applying for. There is no need to put all the jobs in great detail that you’ve had since you were 16, especially if they are not relevant to the job you are applying for. Try and focus on the skills and core competencies that the job requires, and pick out any experience of your own which proves that you have these skills.

5. Work backwards

Your career and educational history should always be listed in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent first). This is because your most recent experience is the most relevant! Remember to also put the start and end dates of when you worked/studied.

6. Be Positive

Focus on your strong points and sell them by highlighting positive facts. Use words like, 'achieved', 'managed', 'gained experience', 'succeeded'. Remember this is your chance to impress the recruitment consultant or employer, so don't dwell on any negatives – a positively worded CV will paint you in a good light and reflect a positive attitude, confidence and enthusiasm. There's no need to make excuses for any short-comings, just don't even mention them!

7. Short but Sweet

In most cases, a CV should not be more than two sides of A4. However, if you really feel that all the relevant information will take three, then don’t force yourself to cram it all on two pages as this will only make it harder to read. It is more important to just keep everything concise and to the point, focus only on the important points and don’t waffle. Be aware though that once you start going past three pages, ask yourself will the prospective employer actually read all of it?! And is it as relevant to the job I am applying for as it could be?

8. Don't lie!

Putting false information on your CV is just not worth the risk! Lying about dates, ability or references is never a good idea. There is a strong likelihood that you will be found out at which point you can immediately say goodbye to the job or any other future vacancies within that company! A skilled interviewer is likely to pick up on any parts of your CV which are not completely truthful, so better to be open and honest and be prepared to put your side of events at interview.

9. Include a Covering Letter

You should never just send a CV on its own. A formal covering letter is a good opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the role you are applying for, as well as to develop some of the points that you have mentioned on your CV which draw attention to some of your key skills. You can also use this letter to state your current salary and reasons for applying. Again, keep this fairly short and to the point, tailor it specifically to the job you are applying for and remember to put your contact details on the letter.

10. Spell Check & Proof read

Attention to detail is a must. A CV riddled with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors will only tell an employer that you have poor written skills and a lack of attention to detail. So always spell check your Curriculum Vitae! It’s also a good idea to get a friend to read through your CV in case they can find any mistakes that you have missed. Finally, always check again that your CV is accurate and up to date.

Hopefully this helps you create a great CV that will help you get your next job, or at least get an interview for it! Good luck!

For further reading we have found some useful websites about how to write a successful CV, so click on the below links for further advice on this topic:

CV writing services by Bradley CVs
Is your CV / resume letting you down? A professional written CV / resume can dramatically improve your chances of securing the job interview you want. Plus FREE advice on writing your CV / resume, tips on job hunting and interviews, plus sample CVs / resumes, cover letters and links to 100,000+ job vacancies.

Alec's FREE CV writing, resume writing, interview questions & job search tips
FREE advice on how to dramatically improve your CV / resume, find a job and handle interviews. Plus sample CVs / resumes, cover letters, psychometric testing, a recruitment agency finder, CV / resume distribution, links to 200,000+ jobs and much more.

Professional CV Writing Services
The CV Centre - The UK's leading CV consultancy, specialising in professional CV (Curriculum Vitae) writing services.

A Write Impression
Resume and CV writing at affordable prices. Expertise in all career fields, satisfaction guaranteed. Job search and interview tips, career links, newsletter and more!

Curriculum Vitae
Free example CVs. Expert CV writing service, advice, tips and help by Mike Kelley at First Impressions,

Sample Resume - Find the right resume sample. Get info on resume services and job search.

Resume Examples - Offers resume examples to download, writing tips and an interview guide. - creating a great cv, cover letter and interview performance

CV Masterclass

The Fuller CV

A Winning CV

Professoinal CV Services