Successful CV

1. Keep it real!


Usually a CV should be no more than two pages – and that’s two  pages of A4 paper! Employers spend, on average, just 8 seconds looking  at any one CV, and a surefire way of landing yourself on the no pile is  to send them your entire life story. Keep it punchy, to the point, and  save those niggly little details for the interview.

2. Tailor it


We’ve all done it. Whizzed the same CV out to lots of employers  to save time… Stop! Take the time to change your CV for each role that  you apply for. Research the company and use the job advert to work out EXACTLY what skills you should point out to them. They will appreciate the obvious effort.

3. Include a personal statement


Don’t just assume an employer will see how your experience  relates to their job. Instead, use a short personal statement to explain  why you are the best person for the job. This should be reflected in  your cover letter as well.

4. Don’t leave gaps


We are a cynical bunch and leaving obvious gaps on your CV  immediately makes employers suspicious – and they won’t give you the  benefit of the doubt. If you’ve been out of work it can be a worry but  just put a positive spin on it. Did you do a course, volunteer work or develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork or project management? If so, shout about it!

5. Keep it current


You should keep your CV up-to-date whether you’re looking for a job or not. Every time something significant occurs in your career, record  it so you don’t later forget something that could be important.

6. The error of your ways


Employers DO look for mistakes on CVs and if they find them, it  makes you look really bad. David Hipkin, head of recruitment and  resourcing at Reed Business Information, warns, ‘With most employers  experiencing massive volumes of applicants right now, giving them the  excuse to dismiss your application because of avoidable errors is not  going to help you secure an interview.’ If you’re unsure then use a  spellchecker and ask someone else to double-check what you’ve written.  And don’t ignore the most common cv mistakes.

7. Tell the truth


Everyone lies on their CV, right? NO! Stop! Blatant lies on your  CV can land you in a whole heap of trouble when it comes to employers  checking yourbackground and references.  The last thing you want is to start work and then lose your new job for  lying. You also may get caught out at the interview stage when you  suddenly can’t answer questions on what you claim to know. And that can  be VERY awkward!

8. The maths


This may sound dull but by backing up your achievements with  numbers it makes selling yourself much easier. When writing your work  history, don’t just say that you increased sales; tell them you  increased sales by 70% over a six month period. Get it? Big numbers are  especially good (although don’t forget point 7 of our list!).

9. Make it look good


We live in a world where image is everything, and that also goes  for your CV. Take some time to pretty it up… Use bullet points and  keep sentences short. Use the graphic design trick of leaving plenty of  white space around text and between categories to make the layout easy  on the eye. Alternatively, get creative with your job application.

10. Make it keyword friendly


If you’ve uploaded your CV to a job site so recruiters can find  you, keywords are very important. Job titles and job buzzwords will help  a search engine pick out your CV from the pile. Confused? Don’t be. A  marketing candidate might mention SEO (Search Engine Optimization),  direct marketing and digital marketing among their experience and  skills, for example… If you’re not sure, have a search online and see  what words are commonly mentioned when you input your job title.



Curriculum vitae

What is a CV?

Your CV, short for curriculum vitae, is a personal marketing  tool used to sell yourself to prospective employers. It should tell  them about you, your professional history, and your skills; ultimately,  it should show why you’re the best candidate for the job. (

The basic CV format

There are particular sections that employers expect to see on your CV  regardless of industry or job role, recommended structure:

  • Contact details
  • Personal statement
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Achievements
  • Hobbies and interests
  • References

Contact details

The first part of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should  contain your contact details. This is the very basic stuff: your name,  physical address, email address, and phone number, although you might  choose to include your LinkedIn URL, too. It’s not necessary to include  personal details such as your date of birth, marital status, or  religion.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is one of the most important aspects of your  CV. It’s where you give an overview of who you are and inject a touch of  personality. You should tailor it to every job you apply for,  highlighting specific qualities that match you to the role. Aim to keep  your personal statement short and sweet, and no longer than a few  sentences. To make the most of this section, you should try to address  the following:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What can you offer the company?
  3. What are your career goals?

Experience and employment history

This section gives you a chance to outline your previous jobs,  internships, and work experience. Your experience should be listed in  reverse chronological order. You should state your job title and the  dates you worked, followed by your responsibilities. It helps to choose  the duties most relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if  it’s a long list. You can experiment with the format, but in this  section, bullet points are useful for clarity and highlighting key  skills.

Below is a very basic example, but you should take this chance to  showcase your strongest areas and your achievements in previous  positions.

Administrative Assistant at Company Name

(April 2012 – January 2014)

Responsible for:

  • Keeping records up-to-date;
  •  Implementing the new company filing system; and
  •  Answering phone calls/responding to emails.


Like the Experience section, your education should be listed in  reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institutions and  the dates you were there, followed by the grades you achieved. If you  have a lot of qualifications, there’s no need to list them all; just  choose the most relevant. If you have a degree, you could list a few of  the most relevant modules you took.

Bullet points are useful in this section, too. For example:

Name of Institution

(September 2009 – July 2011)


  • History, Business, English Literature
  •  Achieved grades A-B


You might look at this section and think you have no achievements,  but achievements don’t have to be formal awards. If you’ve done anything  you’re particularly proud of, like completing a project or receiving a  promotion, you can and should include it. It’s only going to help the  recruiter build a picture of you and your successes, so don’t worry  about what qualifies as an achievement — if you’re proud of it, let them  know.

Hobbies and interests

You don’t need to state your hobbies and interests on your CV, but   they help recruiters know more about your personality. If you have any  interesting hobbies that make you shine, or if your hobbies relate to  the industry you’re going into, you can use this section to build a  bigger picture of you as a person. If you’re running low on space, don’t  worry too much; just remember that, if worded well, this section could  really make you stand out.


Your referees should be your previous employers or your educational  tutors, but there’s no need to list all their details in this section. A  person’s name, physical address, contact number, and email address are  common things to include. Something like the following is fine:

John Smith (Head of Sales)
Sales Company LTD
1 Manchester Road
M50 3AH

Or, you can save space by simply stating:

References available upon request.

Recruiters can then ask for more information if and when they need it