Writing a CV to put you in pole position

Your CV is your job-seeking calling card - so what kind of impression does yours make on potential employers?

Cast a critical eye over the all-important document and ask yourself if it really shows you in your best light.

Compile a concise, well-written account of your employment history and you'll instantly have recruiters sitting up to take notice.

Cut corners or do a rushed job on it and it'll be like the equivalent of handing in your homework with dog-eared corners and careless coffee cup stains.

Here's our guide to the CV mistakes to be avoided at all costs.

• Keep it brief:

A CV should be detailed, but never run past two A4 pages, even if you're applying for a senior position. You want your resumé to concisely sum up your achievements and make an instant impact, not bore the employer to tears. If personal facts don't have any bearing on your ability to do the job, leave them off. It's an outdated notion that a CV must contain your age, gender and marital or parental status.

• Bad grammar and spelling:

Think of your potential employers as the grammar police. There's no room for rogue apostrophes here. Every computer has an in-built spelling and grammar-check program, so there's really no excuse for getting it wrong. If you admit that this area isn't your strong point, don't just wing it. Recruit a skilled friend you trust to proof-read your CV before you make a final print.

• In Good Order:

You may have rivaled Tom Cruise at cocktail making on your summer job in Ibiza in 1992, but 21st century recruiters might not be too fussed about that. Employers want to know what you've been up to most recently so your work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order - that is, most recent first. Start with your current or last job and work back the way. Educational details must come after your work experience.

• Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Being economical with the truth, fudging the issue, adding a rose-tinted hue - call it what you will. Telling porkies on your CV is never a good idea. The best-case scenario is that a minor fib will leave you a little red-faced. Get found out telling a major howler, however, and your P45 could be closer than you think.

• Absent without leave?

If you've taken a gap year or been off work for personal reasons or due to periods of unemployment, say so. Don't just leave spaces in your employment record that will leave recruiters wondering what you've been up to. Honesty is definitely the best policy here.

• Can the clichés:

So, you tell your employer you're 'dynamic and proactive'. Maybe you are, but you've got to demonstrate how. Give brief but specific examples of achievements wherever possible.

• One size fits all

Actually, it doesn't. One version of your CV will not work for every job application. Be prepared to tailor your resume for each and every application you make, making sure it answers any issues addressed in the job advert.

Have your CV ready?  Get your name out there by uploading your CV and setting up a job alert catered to your search. 


Back to listing