A CV is a document we may look at once or twice a year to maybe update it with our latest work experience, skills or maybe qualifications. It isn’t normally a document that we review daily, weekly or even monthly. It can therefore be difficult to remember the golden rules when updating your CV or writing one for the first time.
That’s why we’ve created a checklist for you to use when writing or updating your CV.
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Make sure you add your first and last name; second names don’t need to be added and make sure you don’t use nicknames.
Have you included the most relevant contact information on your CV, i.e. if your never home but have a mobile number, add your mobile number rather than home phone. Check your email address and make sure it’s appropriate for employers. If you’re applying for work abroad, have you included your country dialling code?
Are your social media accounts set to public, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. If so, think about the content on these pages. Employers are more likely in today’s society to find out a little about you before inviting you to interview.
Age, Race and Sexual Orientation
You don’t need to add any of this to our CV; it is irrelevant to an employer if you’re young or old, African or British, gay or straight. All that matters is that you can present your skills and abilities to do the job advertised through your CV.
LAYOUT AND STYLE
Make sure on your CV your personal profile is first followed by key skills. Then, depending on your experience add work history or education next. For example, if you were a recent graduate with no work experience you would put your education after key skills. If you would like some CV Design inspiration, view our range of CV Designs here.
Use positive language when writing your CV, you don’t want to focus on negatives or use negative words such as “I can’t” or “I won’t”. Be truthful and avoid clichés.
Pick a format when writing your CV, either first or third person, don’t mix the style throughout the CV:
First person example:
I love to play the guitar and consider myself to be an excellent teacher.
Third person example:
Chris enjoys playing the guitar and has become an excellent teacher.
Have we used capital letters appropriately? For example, BSc, not Bsc, capitals used for names of people, road names etc.
Are all your paragraphs aligned, check bullet points to make sure they are all starting from the point. Also check paragraph spacing and make sure it is consistent throughout your CV.
Easy and Clear to Read
A good way to judge this is to hold your CV at arms length and make sure it’s appealing to the eye. Look out for condensed text, font size and font. Make sure the page doesn’t look to cramped.
Spelling and Grammar
Have you used a spell checker? Employers are likely to reject your CV if it contains spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure you check it using a spell checker and that the dictionary is set to the correct language.
Number of Pages
Try to limit your CV to two pages wherever possible. If you end up running over 2 pages, consider the job you’re applying for and tailor it to show the information that is relative to the job.
PERSONAL PROFILE AND KEY SKILLS
A personal profile should ideally be around four to five lines and no more. It should be tailored to fit the job your applying for, using the key words the employer uses in their job description. This will encourage the reader to read on. Learn more about writing an effective personal profile here.
Use bullet points to detail your key skills and again tailor them to include the key skills the employer is looking for, for the role your applying for.
WORK EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION
Remember to include as a minimum your job title, the company name and the dates you worked. Exact dates aren’t needed. Ideally use the month and the year. If you have large employment gaps or lots of jobs, consider adding just the years and exclude the months.
Be clear and concise when writing about your previous roles. Think about the information your new employer will want to read. Add in any key achievements that would be relevant to the job you’re applying to.
Try and use bullet points, this will help you to remain concise rather than babbling. Also, remember to ensure you use the same style bullets throughout your CV.
When adding your work history and education, add the most recent first.
REFERENCES AND HOBBIES
This is personal preference, however you don’t believe there is a need to add a reference on a CV. We would suggest you say, “References are available upon request” rather than listing them and their contact details on your CV. Most employers won’t need to confirm your references until offer stage.
Interests and Hobbies
Again, this is personal preference; some employers like to know a little about your personal life. We suggest if your CV is below 2 pages then maybe look at adding this in, or if you have little work experience.
OTHER THINGS TO CHECK
It is no good having just one CV. You will need a CV for each sector you’re applying to as a minimum. Ideally, you should tailor your CV for each job you apply for, clearly highlighting the key skills the employer is looking for in your CV.
Printing your CV
If you’re printing your CV, make sure you have enough ink and the paper is of a good quality. Employers won’t want to see your CV on poor quality paper with lines through the text due to your ink running low.
Emailing your CV
If you’re emailing your CV to employers, think about the name of the document. We recommend you save it as “Your Name CV”
This is probably one of the most important things you need to consider when writing a CV. Ensure you check it at least twice, ideally with a gap, i.e. write it on a Monday, check it on Monday and on Tuesday. Also, if you have a family member or friend whose opinion you value, ask them to give it a once over. We have a team of CV Writing experts that can check your CV for you, click here to find out more.
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