Do's and Don'ts for writing your CV

Eliminate errors!

One of the easiest ways for employers to weed out weaker CVs is to scan them for errors.  If you fail to check your CV for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes, you are setting yourself up for a fall at the first hurdle.  Most errors can be rooted out using your PC’s spell-checker, but you should also ask someone to read your CV and give you their opinion.

Be Concise

You need to be detailed yet concise so that your CV isn’t several pages long – no employer is going to take the time to read a novel!  Ideally avoid the CV going over 3 pages (as a rough guide).

Be honest and accurate

Never lie on your CV – you will be found out! 

It is not uncommon for employers to ask to see copies of your certificates/academic record so ensure you have the right grades written down.

If you can only say "Hola" then that doesn't make you an fluent in Spanish.  Similarly, if you have only basic PC skills then do not overstate your abilities – you may be interviewed by an IT wizard!

Sell yourself!

Your CV is your paper sales pitch and is key to getting your foot in the door!   You are your best advocate. 

Don't put yourself down, or use irony or humour. It rarely comes across the right way.  Even when it does, employers can find it unprofessional. You wouldn't tell a joke in an interview.

Be Positive!

Avoid negative remarks towards yourself, a colleague or your current employer. This is deemed unprofessional and a potential employer may become concerned about your ability to work within a team or carry out your duties in the company's best interests for example.

Personal details

Use your full name with no abbreviations or nicknames e.g  using Johnno or Johnny if your name if John - this looks unprofessional.  

The same applies to email addresses e.g. doesn't portray the right message.

Be sure the details you provide are yours such as your email address and mobile number. You are the only person who controls your first impressions and response time and you do not want to be relying on someone else to forward your messages, also it doesn't look professional.

Providing details such as your marital status and whether you have any children is purely at your discretion. It is not essential.

Work Experience

Avoid using abbreviations for the company you worked for.  You should state the trading name of the company as well as its parent name or registered name to avoid confusion, ideally provide their web address as well.

Be specific with the dates you worked at each company. It is not sufficient to state the years as this leaves it too broad.  

For example,

Product Manager
2005 – 2006

This could mean anything from: January 2005 - December 2006 (23 months) or December 2005 - January 2006 (2 months), there is a huge difference.

Don’t leave gaps

Many jobseekers at some stage in their life have had a gap in their work experience. This could be due to training, charity/volunteer work, travelling, having children or for a range of other reasons. Explain the reason for the gap and state the exact time frame in months and/or years.

If there's a genuine reason for not completing a degree or leaving a permanent role after just 3 months there (redundancy, personal reasons), then provide a brief explanation. It is credible and trustworthy to be upfront.

Key Achievements (KAs)

Do not list a KA that you cannot back-up with hard fact. There is no point in stating "I increased turnover by 400%" if you have no examples to back it up.

Role play with friends and see if they understand when you explain how you achieved it. If not, then the employer may not understand it either so you may need to change the way it is written.  We are always happy to meet with you and help you prepare for your interview.

Duties and Responsibilities (DRs)

For jobs you held more than 5 years ago you may want to leave out DRs altogether opting to state KAs only but this of course depends on your seniority and the vacancy you are applying for.  Think: relevance.

Use of Jargon

Avoid obscure abbreviations or jargon. You should assume that the person reading your CV may not know what that means. Remember, several people working across different departments may become involved in the recruitment process. 

Interests / Hobbies

Keep this section simple and brief except for where an interest is relevant to the opportunity i.e. Play poker both online and with friends.  Don't put anything down under "interests” unless it has some relevance to the job or you can passionately talk about it for hours.  

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