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      CV writing guidelines

      First impressions count!

      Getting the right job can very often be frustrating and time consuming process so you need to give yourself every opportunity possible. One of the most important things that can make or break the situation is your CV.

      The average employer probably spends only a few seconds reading a CV before either short-listing it or binning it. If they find it attractive and easy to read then they are more likely to retain it for further analysis.

      There is no such thing as a perfect CV but we’ve put together some points below to help you:


      • Don’t think you’ve got to cram in as much as possible to fill the space - white space, wide margins and double spacing can help

      • Use bullet points instead of paragraphs where possible and keep sentences short

      • Use larger fonts and bold type for headings keeping underlining to a minimum

      • Don’t use fancy coloured paper but use a good quality one. Don’t use photocopies!

      • Try to stick to 2, maximum 3 pages, any more and it becomes "War and Peace" - keep it short and simple

      • Avoid weird and wonderful fonts, photographs and CV templates - it might make your CV stand out but for none of the right reasons


      • Tell the truth! It’s important to highlight the good things and avoid the bad. Lying will always be uncovered and may end in the sack or being sued

      • Stick to the point. Don’t waffle on about intricate technical detail unless absolutely necessary

      • Include a 2-3 sentence section at the start of the CV entitled “Profile”. Here you can tell them about you, the person - what makes you tick, outline major skills and experience etc. Basically give them an over-view of your character, strengths and abilities. You can also include in here you career aspirations

      • When writing about your work experience list your current / most recent job first. State the company name, your job title(s) and the dates you have worked there.

      • Always include your achievements and responsibilities - e.g. increased productivity by 30%, reduced customer complaints by 15% etc.

      • Avoid humour, negative things, reasons for leaving, salary details and trade union membership or political affiliations

      • Include education / qualifications (except poor grades), training, awards,

      • Prizes, languages, computer skills, membership of relevant clubs and societies together with any other skills you feel are relevant to the employer

      • Interest and hobbies can provide a good talking point at an interview but rarely gives you an advantage over other candidates

      • You should provide at least 2 references with contact details.

      • Do a ‘spell check’ and get someone else to read your CV – and keep a copy!

      • Jobs that you did over 20 years ago probably aren’t that relevant anymore - keep them brief but don't leave gaps.

      • Good things to mention include communicating with other people, working under pressure to deadlines, being prepared to do the extra things that make a difference, entrepreneurial skills, leadership, team working etc.

      Something worth noting is to try and tailor your CV according to the role that you’re applying for. Highlight and emphasise your skills, education and experience that are relevant to that particular role.

      The following are some example CV’s that you might find useful but remember, there is no standard format.  Just make it clear, concise and easy to read with all the relevant details and no waffle!

      Example A - Graduate with placement experience

      Example B - Graduate without placement experience