CV writing tips | Examples of common CV mistakes

Initial impact of your CV

It is important to get the readers attention almost as soon as they pick up the CV. It is therefore important that the CV is clear and all the major points stand out. To do this you will need to decided on what needs to be in the CV and what can be left out. Although you may think the bar job you did ten years ago was an important part of your career it is likely that it isn't relevant for what you're applying for and therefore can be left out. Make sure you include only the most relevant details and cut the rest out. An employer may have a lot of CVs to look at and not long to make their choice of who to call to interview. So put the most relevant work experience at the start, unless you have only just left education.

If you have a lot of things that you think are relevant and can't be cut out then it is a good idea to include a bullet point list of these points - for example a list of the relevant skills you have. An employer needs to know why they should invite you for interview. A summary of your work experience, achievements, skills and education should be enough to get them interested.

Layout and format of the CV

Make sure the layout of your CV is clear and easy to read. In order to do this try and avoid too much adding too much design to the CV. It is best to stick with a simple black font such as Arial or Times New Roman.

Leave plenty of space on the page with clearly marked headings for each section of the document. That way the employer will be able to quickly flick through the CV and find the relevant information. The easier you make it for the employer, the more likely they are to want to offer you an interview.

Always use a word-processor package. It is probably preferable to use Microsoft Word if you are sending the document by email as this will avoid any possibilities of software conflicts. If sending a hardcopy of the CV then print it on the best quality paper you can find with the highest quality printing standard. This will give the CV a sharper finish that is easier to read and a professional look.

Length of the CV

Do not make your CV longer than two pages of A4. In some industries, particularly finance and business services, there has been a move towards one page CVs. If you are comfortable that you can get your CV down to one page whilst still highlighting why you are suitable for the job then this format will help you to stand out. If you are not then two pages remains acceptable.

If you find that you can't keep to two pages then you leaving too much in. Be brutal and cut out anything that is not essential. Sometimes it is useful to get someone else to do this for you because it can be hard to cut out something that has taken you hours to write.

Spelling and grammar

Making sure your spelling and grammar is essential so you will need to thoroughly check through the final document. It is always wise to have someone else read through the CV a couple of times as your eyes will often read what you thought you have written rather than what is actually there.

Don't rely on the spell checker as it won't pick up on the times when you have used the wrong word or missed a word out.

 

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