What Makes a Good CV?
Follow these few steps to dramatically improve the quality of your CV:
- Keep it simple, uncluttered and in an easy-to-read font (on plain white A4 paper).
- Remove any unnecessary details (don't write lines upon lines for your interests).
- Ensure there are no spelling/grammatical errors; ask someone to proof read it.
- Keep your email address professional. We often see addresses, such as 'firstname.lastname@example.org' or 'email@example.com' - this will not help present a professional reflection of you. Consider obtaining a free email account from a provider, such as Gmail and keep job application emails separate from personal email.
- Check your personal / contact details. This sounds obvious, but we often review CVs with missing or incorrect phone numbers.
- Compare your CV against any job specifications / descriptions you have to ensure relevant skills are highlighted.
- Believe it or not, there is no such thing as a perfect CV. Just concentrate on making use of the CV design that suits you best; chronological, functional or a combination of the two.
- If you are sending your CV by post, ensure you use an A4 envelope and do not fold your CV - by the time it gets to its destination it could look a mess.
...but what should my CV include?
- Education details: you don't need to include all your qualifications from 10 years ago. State your most recent qualifications and briefly cover older, less relevant ones.
- Work experience: most recent first and go backwards; unless using a functional CV.
- Key skills/areas of expertise: such as IT skills or languages.
- Extra-curricular activities: (if relevant to job being applied for).
What Should I Leave Out of My CV?
- Photos: in the UK, the only people who should include a photo on their CV are models and actors / actresses. Please note: some other countries do require photos. Contact us if you are unsure as to whether you should use a photo.
- References: these are requested on an application form / later stage of an application.
- Extensive academic information: we often see clients who include every GCSE and grade but have 10 years employment experience. Unless your qualifications are recent, a brief overview is fine.
- Reasons for leaving a job: this sort of information is not needed on a CV and can potentially be looked upon negatively.
- Salary information: again, not needed.
- Unnecessary personal information: date of birth and nationality are fine, but details, such as weight, religion and health are not needed. Only include a this section within your CV if the space is available. Don't sacrifice content in other more important areas to fit this in.
- Industry-specific terminology / jargon: we covered this in CV writing mistakes but thought it deserved another mention.
How do you write a CV personal statement?
A personal statement (often referred to as a personal profile) should be used to showcase what personal skills you offer in a short, punchy paragraph at the start of your CV.
When compiling your personal statement, try to satisfy the requirements stipulated in the people / job specification for which you are applying. We find it is easier to write a personal statement last; you can note down some of your career highlights and key skills while writing the rest of your CV.
Avoid clichéd phrases such as, 'works well in a team or alone', and unquantifiable skills, such as 'good time management skills' as these are seen in 90% of CVs and will only reduce your chances of selection. Your personal statement should be used to demonstrate what makes you different from other candidates.
How Many Pages Should a CV Be?
You've probably been told not to exceed two pages. However, there is no set limit. As a guideline: a one page CV is normally enough for a graduate or someone with a limited career history. A two-three page CV is about average length.
Obviously, the length of your CV depends upon your level and your career history - an executive CV will no doubt be much longer than one for a recent graduate, or someone with no experience.
Where do I include personal information?
A common mistake to make with your CV is to list all your personal information: height, weight, place of birth etc. These details are irrelevant and will take up much-needed room for other, more relevant information. It is a good idea to include your date of birth, nationality, marital status and whether you hold a driving licence at the bottom of the CV - not at the top!
What's the difference between a CV and résumé?
The term 'CV' comes from the Latin expression curriculum vitae, which means 'the course of life.' A traditional CV is a one page document that summarises an applicant’s employment history, past experience, and credentials. CVs are most often used in the UK, but are also used in the United States as a more inclusive form of a résumé in academic or medical fields. An American CV lists all scholarly credentials, professional employment, published work, and significant accomplishments.
An American résumé resembles a CV in the United Kingdom; it includes the same information and has a similar format. As a rule of thumb, printed resumes are limited to one page while digital resumes can be slightly longer so that all the necessary information is included. A résumé is ultimately a marketing tool that is used to entice employers to offer an interview, not a job.