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Writing a good CV

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 16 November 2007

Your CV is the first thing a potential employer will look at. If you want to get an interview you need to make it look good! Here’s how to make your CV look as appealing as possible.

Title/header
This is the first thing a recruitment officer will see. It should state your profession and give an idea of your skills and abilities. Take care to choose a good title because it will determine how the reader looks at the rest of your CV. For example, Assistant Account Manager or Events Officer give a pretty good idea of what you’re about.

Sections
Organise your information coherently in sections: Professional experience, Qualifications, Training, Interests, etc, with the most important section at the top. In the sections, list information by date in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the least recent. Remember you’ll need to be able to change these around easily to match each employer you're targetting. Avoid sending out the same CV to each recruiter: tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Highlight the most relevant experiences for the job, and also remove information that isn’t relevant or doesn’t suit the job. List your sections in order of their relevance to the post you’re applying for, too.

What to write
Talk about one thing at a time, listing relevant details for each job you’ve had and the work you did. State the specific names of each company you’ve worked for, with addresses so that your references can be checked. If you have periods of unemployment or employment you don’t want to include, simply state the length of time you worked in a certain position for, eg: "5 years’ experience as a lab technician,” which will tell a potential employer how experienced you are without highlighting any gaps or jobs you'd rather forget about!

Style
Use a brief, almost journalistic style with hyphens, using concise expressions. Avoid long sentences and irrelevant facts. Recruiters haven’t time to wade through pages of heavy text; besides, you can show off your top-notch summarising skills by fitting how fabulous you are onto just one or two pages!

Layout
Use a spacious, stylish layout with graphic spacers or detailing that clearly separates each section. Go for a fairly plain style (unless you work in graphic design or communication!). Make use of italics, bold and different fonts and make sure you use the same fonts/tools throughout and in the same way for consistency.

Photo
Including a photo is not a requirement but some recruiters might request one anyhow. Avoid fantasy photos, clichéd snaps or full body shots: use a simple passport-style portrait photo that’s easy to recognise as you.

by Sarah Horrocks

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