Do's and Don'ts for Developing a CV

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A Curriculum Vitae is a self-marketing tool and getting an interview can depend on how good your CV is. Your CV is your chance to show an employer you have the skills and experience needed, and that you are the right person for the job. However, the way you present your CV can have an overwhelming influence over whether your CV is even read, let alone get you that all important interview. You will need to consider what to include, how much detail is needed and how to make your CV stand out from all the others.

Do...

  • Tailor your CV with a prospective employer in mind. Look at the job advert or specification and think about what the job involves and what the employer needs. 
  • Tailor your CV to a job. Your CV shouldn't be your life story but should be tailored for the job you're applying for, focusing on the parts that are important for that particular job.
  • Make your CV clear, neat, and tidy. Have somebody check your spelling and grammar. Your CV should be easy to read with space between each section and plenty of white space. Use left-justified text as it's easiest to read, using black text on good quality white or cream paper.
  • View your experience in a positive light. Look objectively at your experiences (even the bad ones) and identify what you learned or what skills you developed in the process. 
  • Place the important information up front. Put experience and education achievements in reverse chronological order.
  • Feature experiences and interests that are of use to the employer. Consider including IT and software skills, voluntary work, foreign language competency, leisure interests that demonstrate team skills and organization/leadership skills.
  • Put your name and email address on every page - in case the pages of your CV get separated.
  • Use positive language. When describing your work achievements use power words such as ‘launched’, ‘managed’, ‘coordinated’, ‘motivated’, ‘supervised’, and ‘achieved’.
  • Quote concrete outcomes to support your claims

Don’t...

  • Include information which may be viewed negatively such as failed exams, failed business ventures, or reasons for leaving a job. Don’t lie, just don’t include this kind of information when it is unnecessary. 
  • Include anything that might discriminate against you – such as date of birth, marital status, race, gender or disability.
  • Include salary information and expectations. Leave this for negotiations after your interview, when the employers are convinced how much they want to employ you.
  • Make your CV more than two pages long. You can free up space by leaving out or editing information that is less important. For example, don’t include all of the jobs you have had since school, just the relevant ones. 
  • Dilute your important messages. Don’t bother with a list of schools you attended with grades and addresses, don’t include a long list of hobbies, or a long work history. Concentrate on demonstrating that you have the skills they need by featuring what you have achieved by applying those skills throughout your career.
  • Use jargon, acronyms, or technical terms unless they are essential.
  • Lie - employers have ways of checking what you put is true, and may sack you if they take you on and find out you've lied to them.
  • Include a photo unless requested.

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