There are countless articles, websites, and even services dedicated to improving your CV, but the fact is that employers continue to see poor CVs. Your CV may seem straightforward to write, or feel like an unnecessary formality, but it is one of the only examples of work that an employer gets to see. It needs to be on point and represent a careful curation of what you would bring to the role they're hiring for. It's often an employer's first view of you, and if it doesn't make the right impression, your application gets off on a bad foot, if it proceeds at all.

We've drawn up 10 key points to consider when drafting your CV.

  1. Check, double check, and triple check
    Just because you've spelled everything correctly, it doesn't mean you're out of the firing line. Review your syntax, formatting consistency, and the proper names for any accreditations and organisations you list. In bullet points, make sure that you are consistent in your use of the past and present tense. Poor attention to detail in your CV attests to poor attention to detail in your work product. It's often possible to catch more errors if you print out your CV to review it.

  2. Don't waste your CV real estate
    It's easy to surrender to some kind of overly formal "business-speak" when you write your CV, but the key is to have a purpose for each sentence you write. Be critical of what you choose to include, and ask yourself: why is this point important to my CV? What purpose does this sentence have in supporting my point? What am I trying to convey? Is it clear to someone coming at it cold?

  3. Make your CV specific to the job you're applying for
    Once you've finished writing your CV, you may think to yourself: “phew! that's it!”. However, if you're really serious about getting an interview for each job you apply to, revisit your CV each time you apply for a job to make sure it's tailored to your audience. For example, if they have international clients, you might want to emphasise the language skills you have. Or, if you're going for a leadership role, your team leadership experience might be more important than that internal guide you co-authored. Outstanding CVs are created by skilful curation.

  4. Use facts and evidence
    When you look at a job description, consider each of the qualities and assets the employer asks for and think about how your profile matches up in concrete terms. Take your time and think thoroughly about your background: what have you done? What outcomes have you achieved and which of them can you quantify? What evidences your aptitude in the asked-for areas. Make sure you can back up what you say with supporting evidence.

  5. Keep it professional
    Make sure any details in your CV are appropriate for a professional context. Use a formal email address without nicknames, and an appropriately professional profile photo (if you decide to include one in your CV). Avoid unusual fonts, unless you're trying to make a point.

  6. Avoid clichés, or any unnecessarily technical language
    Clichés won't make your CV stand out, and will reflect poorly on your level of English. Don't make your background hard to appreciate with the use of arcane terms - this may alienate your reader. Consider the industry to which you're applying. Where referring to a process, product, organisation, or credential that is relatively unknown, consider providing a brief explanation in brackets, e.g. UX Design (user-experience design) or XYBoutique (a B2B furnishings company).

  7. Keep it simple
    Use a layout that doesn't stand in the way of your content. It should frame your content rather than distract from it. It should make your CV easy to read and digest. It shouldn't make the reader wonder whether you could be a poor fit for the role, team, or organisation. It should fit nicely into what they are expecting, or perhaps pleasantly surprise them. Introducing colour or images may distract from the content of the CV or make it seem as if you have something to hide.

  8. Keep it concise
    All points made in your CV should be short and to the point. Avoid long paragraphs. Avoid worm-like sentences. Your CV as a whole shouldn't be longer than 2 A4 pages, unless the organisation have requested an extended version.

  9. If you are applying for a job in a different country, research what expectations they have of CVs
    In France for example, it is commonplace to attach an image of yourself to your CV, but in the UK, this practice is very rare. Know the HR department's expectations given their location.

  10. Don't be too personal
    Only write down your hobbies if they're related to your capacity to do the job well (e.g. football captain - team leadership experience) or if they add some required colour to your profile. Be conscious of the signals you're sending with the hobbies and interests you choose to list or omit. Use formal language at all times, and don't offer up too much personal information.

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