10 Do’s and Don’ts for writing your CV

10 Do’s and Don’ts for writing your CV

If you’ve just finished your final exams, then chances are that you’re in a pretty good place right now! Those months and hours of study are already a distant memory as you prepare for a summer of fun with your friends. But this time of the year is also a perfect one to hone and craft your CV.


Your CV is the first opportunity you have to impress a potential employer. A chance for you to stand out from the crowd and entice the recipient into offering you an interview for that dream job.

Below we’ve outlined a few of the CV basics, and what you shouldn’t include, to help get you started:

1) Do: List your previous employment details

Employers understand that you’re just leaving university and will be unable to list numerous professional positions.

However you should list any paid or voluntary positions you may have held, whatever they may be. It could be detailing that year-long placement in industry, or it may be that restaurant job you held in high school or college.

Even if your previous job has nothing to do with the one you hope to get now, highlighting transferable skills such as managing a project, working in teams or dealing with customers does make it relevant and gives illustrates the professional skills you currently possess.

2) Don’t: Leave any gaps in your employment history

Again, potential employers will realise that this is likely to be your first professional job since leaving university.

But if you did leave that part time job to focus on your studies, spend time travelling or undertake voluntary work then be sure that you make a note of it on your CV.

3) Do: Outline your qualifications

Of course, the university degree you’re currently working towards is the most important, so make sure this takes pride of place in this section.

Highlight some of the core academic fundamentals you’ve learnt, along with some of the achievements you’ve had whilst studying.

Also mention high school and college qualifications, but you don’t need to into huge detail. Simply state the number of qualifications, grades and the institution where you were awarded them.

4) Don’t: Include unprofessional contact details

Avoid using your university email address (as this may expire once you’ve graduated), and you should especially avoid using that quirky email address you created in high school. Including an email address that includes kisses and bad grammar doesn’t make for professional reading on your CV.

Similarly, it’s also important to remember that many employers have the ability to search the names of candidates on social media. So if you’ve got an embarrassing Facebook photograph or Twitter post that you’d rather not have them see, make sure you delete them or adjust the privacy settings of your accounts.

5) Do: List your hobbies and interests

Although more detail should be given to your qualifications and experience section, listing some of the things that you enjoying doing in your downtime can provide an employer with a valuable insight into your personality.

Team sports can be translated in your ability to work with others. Activities such as orienteering and mountain climbing suggest that you can take on new challenges. Outline what you do, how long you’ve done them for, and how some of the experiences you’ve gained from your hobbies can be useful in the workplace.

6) Don’t: Outline salary demands

This is a sure-fire way of ruling yourself out immediately.

If you state how much money you’re seeking an employer will dismiss you straight away. Similarly you could inadvertently price yourself out of a job, or be open to having your skills and earning expectations scrutinised.

Wow the reader and ace an interview. Only then is it appropriate to discuss salaries and wages.

7) Do: Use a clean and clear layout

You may think that having the best designed CV will help you stand out from the crowd, but it could also put you at a disadvantage.

Employers are likely to receive lots of applications for the same job. So make sure your CV is clear and easy to read. Use bullet points and headers so that anyone quickly scanning can pick out the strongest points you’d want them to notice.

8) Don’t: Write more than 2 pages of A4

Similarly your CV should not be an essay as employers simply won’t have the time to read it.

Keep your copy to two pages of A4 maximum, and ensure all information is concise and easily digestible.

9) Do: Tailor to each position

Even if you’re targeting one specific industry, each job you apply will almost certainly be unique.

So make sure that your CV applies specifically to each job. Pick out the skills that most satisfy the candidate requirements for each individual vacancy.

Employers will be able to tell a CV that’s been carefully tailored over one that’s been attached to half a dozen emails.

10) Don’t: Add references

At this stage you don’t need to ask former employers or tutors for a detailed reference.

It wastes valuable space at a time when you’re trying to show off your skills and expertise. References will usually be required at the point of job offer, so when writing your CV simply state that references are available on request.


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