What makes a good CV?

What makes a good CV?
I’ve always found this to be a bit of a grey area when it comes to writing CV’s. There are no right or wrong answers to this question but in keeping with tradition the following general rules apply;

  • The whole CV should be kept to a maximum of 2 pages in length. Don’t use brightly coloured paper. Use white A4 paper that is good quality and not cheap. Remember, the quality of paper you use reflects upon you as an applicant.
  • It should be targeted to a specific job you are applying for or a specific career you are interested in and clearly illustrate the relevant skills you have to offer.

  • It should be logically ordered and contain the following information; Personal Details, Personal Profile, Skills, Achievements, Education & Qualifications, Work History, Hobbies & Interests and References.

  • It should be accompanied by a cover letter– the covering letter should be in the same font, layout and same paper as your CV.

  • Avoid using fancy borders and coloured fonts. Black type on white looks better and sharper.

  • The layout needs to be simple, clear and concise. Leave plenty of white space so it looks easy on the eye. Use bold and italic typefaces for heading and important information. Don’t use title pages as they waste space.

  • Each page of your CV should be on a separate sheet of paper not back to back.

  • The vitae part of curriculum vitae means “life” but it doesn’t mean you should include information about every aspect of your life. Be concise and only select the most important information and leave the rest for the interview.

  • Be positive at all times: Don’t mention anything which is negative or suggests failure, such as exams, collapse of a business or anything you’re not good at. Highlight your strong points, for example when listing your GCSE’s, put your highest grade first.

  • Be Honest: Never give inaccurate or misleading information. Omitting details such as your gender or marital status is fine but lying about you’re exams results or degree classification is unacceptable. Unlike application forms which are legal documents (you sign to confirm that the contents are true) CV’s are not legal documents. Don’t be fooled by this because if an employer even so much detects a white lie on your CV it will end up straight in the bin.

  • Various CV experts suggest that most employers tend to focus on the upper middle part of the CV on the first page. This is the area where you would usually find your profile (if you have one) and skills & achievements.

  • Hand written CV’s are a thing of the past and makes you look very out of touch with modern technology. If you don’t have a computer, borrow one or simply go to your local library. I can’t stress enough the importance of having your CV word processed. If it means asking a friend or a work colleague to do it for you, so be it. Remember to thank them afterwards.

  • If you are posting your CV, don’t fold it. In order to maintain that professional look, it’s a good idea to send it off in an A4 envelope rather than folding it.

  • Avoid sending out poorly photocopied CV’s as this suggests that you are sending it out to loads of companies and aren’t really bothered who you work for. Printers are cheap to buy and easy to access these days so there is no excuse to send out poorly photocopied CV’s.

  • It’s crucial that you avoid bad spelling, poor grammar and typing errors. Ultimately, these can make you look careless or lazy, and lacking attention to detail. The examples below show you why you need to use a spell checker and why you must always read what you write carefully. For example:

Why you need to use a spell checker?

  • I am attensive to detail
  • I have excelent written and verbal comunication skills
  • Possess good customer service skils
  • I used a spell checher to do my CV

Why you must read it carefully?

  • I enjoy reading and keping fit
  • I have a passion for dansing
  • When I was at school I was the captain of the fotbal team
  • I was from monitor for three years
  • Most computers’ come with a built in spell checker so make sure you set your spell checker accordingly. To avoid the kind of basic mistakes highlighted above, if possible, get someone with a fresh pair of eyes to check your finished CV for you.

  • Don’t mix print styles and fonts – Times New Roman and Arial Standard are most popular. My personal favourite is Verdana which I have used to write this website. Other popular font styles include Tahoma, Calibri and Georgia. Whichever font style you choose to use, make sure you keep it consistent. Make sure you go for a clear and simple font style rather than fancy decorative ones. In terms of font size, use between 10-12 for the normal body font and larger sizes for subheadings. For example:

  • Main heading which is normally your name should be 16-18 points
  • Normal body font=10-12 points. Anything less than 10 points will be too small to read
  • Subheadings=14 points
  • The last point I want to make goes back to the modern technology debate. With emails and text messages gaining increasing popularity amongst people, abbreviations such as thnx, plse and tc have become second nature to most of us. Unfortunately, in the context of CV writing they are unacceptable so please avoid using them at all costs