There is no 'best' or 'correct' way to complete a CV even
though many people will try to tell you there is! We have
many years experience in recruitment from graduates through
to chief executives and believe that following the simple
rules outlined below is your best chance of success.
thinking of what the person carrying out the selection will
want to see. Probably, something brief and to the point with
the minimum of spin and padding so as not to waste his or
her time. The more you try to hide relevant details and make
it difficult for the recruiter, the more annoyed they will
become! The structure below is simple and effective and has
stood the test of time. See also the specimen CV at the bottom
of this page.
CV IS A MARKETING DOCUMENT
that your CV and covering letter, whether sent by post or
e-mail, will be your first introduction to the recruiter.
You won't be there to explain anything, or to fill in any
gaps, so your CV has to represent the best of what you are.
you begin to think about writing your CV you need to ask yourself
what you really want from a job. The Career Development Profiler
will help you through this process by giving you an insight
into your work interests, personality and motivation. Once
you know what it is you want from a job then decide what skills
and experience you have to sell. Then make a chronological
list of your education, work history, experience and accomplishments
and begin to organise this information into a concise and
is no 'best' or 'correct' way to complete a CV. Try thinking
of what the person carrying out the selection will want
to see. Probably, something brief and to the point with
the minimum of spin and padding so as not to waste his
or her time. The more you try to hide relevant details
and make it difficult for the recruiter, the more annoyed
they will become! The structure below is simple and effective
and has stood the test of time. See also the specimen
CV at the bottom of this page.
1.Your name and contact details
is no need to write CV or Curriculum Vitae at the head of
the page as it is obvious what the document is, so just
write your name as a heading. Give your full address, e-mail.
telephone/fax numbers, mention an answering machine if you
have one, and good times to contact you. Make it as easy
as possible for the recruiter to find you.
list three to six key achievements. Write these in terms of
things you have done, using positive words such as completed,
created, organised. If you have no job history, then relate
the achievements to your education, your leisure activities,
or vacation jobs. Where possible, relate the achievements
to the likely requirement of the jobs for which you are applying.
Career history to date
your job history in reverse chronological order, with the
most recent job first. For each item focus on your achievements,
skills and competencies, where possible giving examples of
what you have done.
4, Education and Qualifications
your education and qualifications, from A. Levels onwards,
in chronological order.
5. Additional skills
list any skills which are not apparent from the above information,
such as computer skills, or languages, which might be of interest
to a potential employer.
a few interests or leisure pursuits, but not too many, and
try to include some activities which have skills transferable
to the workplace.
There is no need to quote referees at this stage unless specifically
requested. References of the 'to whom it may concern' variety
are almost worthless.
A4 page's are ideal, and three the maximum. Anything longer
is unlikely to be read, so put your efforts into making your
CV lucid and elegantly simple, rather than writing a long-winded
Use of language - make every word count!
concise and positive when describing your job history and
your achievements. Avoid the usual strings of glowing adjectives
and instead give real examples of what you have actually achieved.
platitudes such as 'charismatic leadership qualities' or
Terms such as 'involved in' and 'assisted ' - be more
Vague achievements such as 'improved' or 'enhanced'
- replace with something more specific to quantify what
you actually achieved, e.g. increased turnover, managed
6 people, cut costs by 15%.
attention to the key words in your CV and try to give them
added value. For example, instead of using the word 'appointed'
try 'promoted' or 'selected'. 'Ran a programme' could become
'created and developed' conveying a much more powerful message.
Make every word work for you and use a thesaurus to enrich
Grammar and spelling
your grammar and spelling avoiding jargon and unexplained
size and colour of paper are important when designing a CV.
This may seem trivial, but good quality A4 size white or cream
paper is the best setting for your CV. Unusual colours and
sizes will only annoy your reader as will fancy plastic presentation
folders. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. When
applying to an advertising agency, for example, you might
be expected to concentrate on the packaging as well as the
a clear, readable typeface with plenty of white space and
no gimmicky graphics. When e-mailing, use fonts that are widely
available such as Times New Roman - exotic fonts might look
pretty but only if your recipient also has access to them.
Highlight key words (e.g. job titles, organizations, qualifications)
by underlining or bold type but avoid overuse of these techniques
because they will lose their impact.
large areas of dark shading if your CV is likely to be faxed.
out the CV attractively allowing plenty of space - don't cram
everything together making the CV difficult to read.
covering letter is as important as the CV. It is likely to be
read first and if it fails to impress, then the CV might never
be read at all. Most of the housekeeping points which apply
to CVs apply also to letters - language, grammar, spelling,
paper and legibility. In addition, the following are important:-
You cannot write one covering letter which will serve all
letter should be written individually as a response to a
specific advertisement, or to approach an individual organisation.
Make the first paragraph the focus of your letter.
the first paragraph short and interesting - tempt the recruiter
to read further and to take a look at your CV.
your letter, highlight the aspects of your career which
fit the requirements specified in the advertisement. Stick
to the facts and restate the achievements listed in your
CV if they are particularly relevant.
any instructions or requests for information, e.g. if an
advertisement asks for current salary, or willingness to
move location, then it is important to include that information
in your letter.
CV (please note that due to variations
in browser settings, the layout may not be ideal)
23 Longmead Road
London NW4 7SG
Phone or Fax: 0207 756 5871
Introduced a new data base system in 10 European companies.
Increased my team's sales by 30% over a two year period.
Raised £25,000 for local cancer charity.
Organised 20 person student expedition to Nepal.
your key achievements with 'action' words eg. - Managed, Increased,
Organised, Designed and so on.. Avoid clichés such as
- team player, self starter, charismatic leader and instead
substantiate your claims with facts and figures. Everyone has
three or four key achievements! Often, achievements outside
work can be very relevant to a job application. For example,
organising a charity activity might well indicate that you have
management and leadership skills.)
1999 - to date: Dentos UK, promoted to Sales Manager, Dental Products
managing 6 people with a t/o of £2.5 million.
1998 - 1999: Set up own car hire business which grew to a fleet
of four cars within one year. Sold the business on receiving job
offer from Dentos.
leaving gaps in your CV eg through redundancy and put a positive
interpretation on your achievements during such a time)
1996 - 1998 : SMGH, Assistant Brand Manager, Pharmaceuticals
1993 Work experience in Zambia supervising a bridge building project
managing a team of nine volunteers.
2000 - to date MBA marketing programme at City university. Sponsored
by my present company.
1993 - 1996 : BSc Chemistry 2.1 University of Southampton
1992 A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry (B, B, C)
Skills and Achievements:
Good working knowledge of German
Ashridge management and marketing programmes sponsored by Glaxo.
Duke of Edinburgh's silver award
Rock climbing, Squash and Acting. (Be realistic
and honest - your interviewer may have similar interests!)