How to write an effective CV

When you apply for a job, you may be asked to send a CV and covering letter. This may be the first thing that the employer will read about you. It is not enough to type a CV that informs an employer; it must impress them, it is your personal sales brochure.

The aim of your CV is to get you through the first stage of the recruitment process and get you an interview. Most CVs never get past this stage, often because they do not tell the employer what they need to know. They either have far too little information, or far too much. The CV might also be structured in a way that makes it hard for the employer to find the information they want.

This guide will help you see what a CV should look like, helping you to avoid most of the common errors that appear on many CVs. You will find links to examples and templates for viewing and downloading.

First Impressions

First impressions really matter when it concerns your CV. Before an employer even reads a word, they will have evaluated what your CV looks like.

  • If you have heavily used italics or too many bullet points, your CV may go straight into the bin. The same is true if your text is too fancy, too small, or if you have used coloured paper or graphics.
  • Stick to plain white paper, no frills, and do not use a photo in the UK (this is different for modelling or acting jobs). Times New Roman or preferably Arial should be used as the font for your CV. Do not mix different fonts.
  • Make sure your sections are clear and have bold headings. It will make the relevant information easy to find.
  • Do not exceed two pages. If your CV is too long the employer won't want to read it.
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