The 5 rules to writing a good CV
Understand the employers requirements and tailor the CV to meet those requirements.
Your CV should:
- Be easy to read
Easy to read means that you should choose a clear typeface and use a point size big enough to read, either on screen or printed on paper. If you choose to add an element of design to your CV, keep it simple and make sure that this does not interfere with the information you are trying to convey to your prospective employer.
- Be clear and concise
It is important to be clear and concise with the information in your CV as it is likely that yours will be one of many being considered by the employer. Too much information gives the employer the task of sifting through for the relevant details and could possibly result in the long-winded version being discarded. Perhaps using bullet points to highlight your key skills would draw the reader’s attention to the important details. These can be tailored to the relevant company or vacancy.
- Be correct for spelling and grammar
For most of you, proof reading and copy checking will be part of your day to day routine. It is imperative that your CV is checked for spelling and grammar. A good tip is to ask a friend or colleague to help with this. Please ensure that you have the correct spellings of jargon and software packages eg a common mistake is to spell Quark Xpress incorrectly (ie Quark Express).
- Leave the reader with something to remember you by
To leave the recipient with something to remember you by, add something interesting to the end of your CV. This could be included in the ‘Interests’ section, a design element or maybe some portfolio examples. If you go with the latter, please choose carefully and remember to include all aspects of your work and remember, just show a teaser giving the reader a taste of what you can do. You should always ensure copy right is not being breached.
- Be no more than 2 pages of A4
When writing your CV, bear in mind that the employer may have many others to read. The average time spent reading your CV is just 2 minutes. What the employer doesn’t read in this time will be overlooked. Therefore, it is important to have the most relevant information prominently displayed on the front page. Try to use the space on the page effectively, use two or three columns where possible rather than one long list down the left hand side of the page. The following order of information is suggested:
Keep these short and to the point. Give the essential information only; name, address, contact details and date of birth (gender and nationality can be added if you feel that this is important).
Highlight to the reader the important facts he needs to know about you. List in this section your areas of responsibility, management experience, software expertise, any special skills or qualities – points of difference that will make you stand out from the crowd.
This should be displayed in chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Under each heading include dates of employment, name of employer, job title and write two or three lines summarising your key responsibilities and the skills you developed e.g. communication skills, time management, ability to work under pressure, organisational abilities etc. For those leaving education, any relevant work experience should also be added here.
Education and Qualifications
This should be displayed in chronological order, beginning with the most recent. It will be sufficient to list the name of establishment, title of course and qualifications/grades achieved. Don’t forget to include any training courses attended.
This section may be included to demonstrate any achievements, special awards, exhibitions or competitions you may have entered or won. This might include any awards won during your time with a previous agency or company, reviews or articles you have published or your end of year degree show.
Employers always find it useful to have information about your interests. Remember they are trying to find an employee who will fit with the rest of their workforce and this could be as important as finding the person with the right skills. Try to be specific and be prepared to discuss at interview anything you put in this section.
This is optional and it may be sufficient to indicate that references can be supplied upon application.