There is no perfect CV or one right way of structuring a CV but creating a really good CV takes time and effort.
Do remember that a CV may only get a quick flick through of 60 seconds so it must make as good an impression as possible within that time. Here are some tips to help:
1. Tailor your CV
No one CV suits all situations and a CV that has not been tailored in any way really shows up. Do aim to customise the content of your CV to the specific job/opportunity or career area you are targeting.
2. Think about the format
Does your CV really present you in the best way possible? Does the area you are seeking have a preferred CV format? Be consistent in how you present information e.g. chronological order and have headings in the same style throughout.
3. Be concise
Generally a CV should be a maximum of 2 sides of A4. Avoid waffle and make sure you only include information that is relevant. Try to include a brief personal profile at the start to bring out key information including career objective.
4. Include key personal details
These should be name, address, telephone number and email address – make sure contact details are clear. There is no need to give your date of birth, marital status, or nationality.
5. Be positive
Highlight your strengths – you need to sell your relevant skills, abilities and experience in the CV. Present your qualifications in the way that makes the most of them. Use positive language to describe your experience e.g. ‘organised’, ‘developed’, ‘planned’. Prioritise content so that the most relevant and important is near the top.
6. Be honest
Aim for accuracy and avoid temptation to embroider any details. Do not leave any unexplained gaps. Use your own words.
7. Make it easy to read
Make sure the layout is clear, logical and accessible. Choose an appropriate font and font size e.g. Arial, Cambria, 10 or 11 with a larger size for headings. Aim for a consistent layout e.g. presentation of start and leaving dates should be the same throughout. Avoid cramming the page and cluttering it up with unnecessary punctuation – appearance is important. Bold type for headings and bullet points are fine
8. Remember key additional information
Information about relevant hobbies and activities can add interest to your CV. Do not forget additional skills such as foreign languages, driving licence, IT.
9. Check and re-check
Use friends and family for feedback. Proof read it really carefully as even the smallest spelling or grammatical mistake could lead to the CV being rejected. Avoid jargon, acronyms and unfamiliar abbreviations.
10. Review and update regularly
Do make sure your CV is up to date and that the content is still relevant to your career goals. It is so easy to leave out vital more recent information.