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How to create the perfect CV

Home / Career Advice / How to create the perfect CV

Your personal marketing document

Your CV is a self-marketing document intended to highlight to an employer the skills and qualities that make you a suitable candidate for a particular job. 

The aim of a CV is ;

• to market you positively 
• to generate interest in you as a potential employee 
• to persuade the employer to interview you 

A CV must be accurate, concise and up-to-date. It should be targeted to the particular role you are applying for. You need to find out as much as you can about the job and the skills they are looking for so that these can be reflected in the CV.  You then need to analyse your own skills and tailor your CV to fit. 

LAYOUT 
Your CV should be in a legible font and easy to read. It should have clearly defined subheadings and should be presented in a business-like manner. Remember that an employer will probably have a large number of CVs to get through and may only dedicate 30 seconds to each one! It is up to you to make your CV and the key points you are selling accessible to them. 

Hints
• it is not necessary to title your document Curriculum Vitae - use your name as a header 
• the length should be no more than 4 pages 
• avoid using more than 2 font styles. 
• font size should preferably not be smaller than 12. 
• bold can be used to highlight headings or important points – but use it sparingly 
• use good quality writing paper 
• avoid using CV templates you find on the web 

CONTENT 
Your CV should follow the following format:
• Name (bold type)
• Personal details including date of birth, address and telephone number, marital status, nationality
• Qualifications
• Career history (in reverse order, most recent position first)
• Leisure interests
• Referees

You should also take into account the following:
1. Ensure all dates link up; leave no suspicious gaps. If you were out of work for a period, or travelling, include it as a stage in your history.
2. Write employer's name and location in bold type. Employers often select for interview by identifying with companies that are known to them.
3. Use your last title in each position, also in bold type.
4. Briefly describe the company's business and size, in italics.
5. Write no more than a few lines about the job content and responsibilities. If appropriate, show how you progressed from one position to the next. Mention specific numbers if possible ('In charge of 3 staff, 'sold 30 machines, worth £100,000 each'). Highlight three or four achievements after every job in bullet format.
6. Under leisure interests, demonstrate breadth of character by mentioning varied interests, energy with sporting interests. Don't fabricate interests as you may well be quizzed on them, particularly if the interviewer shares those interests. Don't worry the employer by listing contentious interests (shooting, foxhunting). Keep the list short: one artistic, one sporting and one unusual interest. Don't put 'socialising' which is taken as drinking!

Hints
Do’s
• Prioritise the areas of your experience that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. 
• Use simple, concise and positive language 
• Put the information that is most relevant on the first page 
• Allocate space according to importance 
• Avoid writing great reams of text – short paragraphs or bullet points are much more effective 
• Demonstrate your skills through your achievements rather than your duties 
• Use active verbs to describe each point
• Ask yourself ‘So What?’ for each achievement 

Don’ts 
• Photographs (unless requested) 
• Copies of references or qualifications 
• Abbreviations or jargon 
• Height, weight, or state of health 
• Over-embellishment, distortion or leave any time unaccounted for. 
• Fold your CV – use A4 envelope 

DEMONSTRATING YOUR SKILLS 
One of the most difficult things about writing a CV is being able to demonstrate your skills effectively. Remember that an employer is looking for evidence that you have the potential to carry out the duties of the role successfully. You need to illustrate and expand on the skills you have: 
• Write list of all responsibilities and achievements in terms of what you did, how you did it and what was the result 
• Where possible quantify results. Use, where possible, figures and quantify, e.g. cost saving, numbers involved, production rates 
• Order in terms of strength 
• Edit critically – what skill are you selling? Cut out superfluous details. 
• Revisit and revise 
• Ask "So what?" for each entry 
• Avoid weak words – be positive 

AND FINALLY 
Always review your CV before sending it to an employer to make sure that you have expressed yourself in the best possible light. 
Check your grammar and punctuation and ensure that you have no spelling mistakes. These kind of errors are a major turn-off to a potential employer, so don’t fall at the first hurdle. You may wish to ask someone to check your CV for you, as sometimes you are not able to see your own mistakes. 
Wherever possible always compare what you have written with the job description.