CV dos and don'ts

CV writing advice: what you should - and shouldn’t  - put on your CV.

Two CVs next to a keyboard In most cases, your CV will be a potential employer's first impression of you. If an employer isn't impressed with your CV, they probably won't take the time to interview you and therefore meet you personally. To ensure that you get the best from your CV, here are a few CV dos and don'ts.

CV dos

Ensure that you do:

  • Keep your CV simple, concise and easy to read;
  • Tailor your CV to show that you are the ideal candidate for the job;
  • Update your CV regularly, because it is a working document;
  • Write honestly and consistently about your employment dates, job titles, any gaps between employment and your qualifications;
  • Prepare your referees and ensure they are willing to provide you with good references when required;
  • Make your CV interesting to read and that it flows in a logical manner;
  • Use a good quality paper to print your CV on and make sure you have used black or blue ink;
  • Type in a clear font and check this is legible (ideally no less than 11 points font size);
  • Keep your CV within two sides of A4, unless requested;
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Where possible, get someone else to check it for you.

CV don’ts

Ensure that you don't:

  • Falsify your CV to meet the requirements of the job;
  • Include a photograph unless it is necessary or requested;
  • Provide details of your salary - if an employer requests this type of information, include it in your covering letter;
  • Include personal information that is irrelevant to your application or mention any sort of failure;
  • Indicate reasons for leaving a job or make negative comments about previous employers or jobs;
  • Use colours, images or styles such as borders which will detract from the information about you;
  • Provide details of your career goals and ambitions unless they are relevant to the job or use the words "I" or "me" or write in the third person - your CV is a reader centred document;
  • Use binders or folders. Employers may scan, photocopy or fax your CV and these will only be discarded;
  • Use jargon or abbreviations, unless they are commonly understood. If you need to use abbreviations, spell them out in the first usage;
  • Send photocopies of your CV to employers - this looks unprofessional as does using poor quality paper or making changes to your CV in pen.

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