10 golden rules for writing your CV - by the woman who knows best

The Independent's HR guru shares her notes from the front line of the battle for jobs

The job market continues to remain highly competitive for candidates with employers often overwhelmed by the numbers of applications received for every vacancy. In today’s tough economic climate, finding a new job is onerous for most but fine-tuning your CV can help secure the next step: a job interview.

1.  Presentation
Don’t format your CV in a way that will distract from the content or confuse the reader - keep it simple and consistent throughout. A garishly designed CV may stand out and grab the recruiter’s attention, but this could be for the wrong reasons.

2.   Length
Try to keep your CV to two sides of A4 as anymore is unlikely to be read; recruiters simply don’t have the time. This is tough if you have had an extensive career history, so try limiting the amount you write on your earlier positions to key achievements. Employers tend to be more interested in your most recent and relevant career history.


3. Tailor your CV - not just your covering letter
It is important to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for and not just the covering letter. To do this well thoroughly read the job description and understand what the recruiter is looking for in terms of competencies, skills and experience. Where you have the necessary attributes, make sure you include examples of them on your CV. If you have skills gaps then make the most of the skills you do have and
adapt them as best you can for the position you are applying for.

4. Start your CV with a personal profile
This should be a short paragraph at the beginning of your CV that covers the key skills and experiences you have, perhaps the industries you have worked in and what you are looking for from your next role. This can be tough to write but can be far more effective than a lengthy covering letter. A smart candidate will tailor this for each different role they apply for.

5. Career history
Write your career history in chronological order, starting with the most recent role - and include dates. Identify the key skills and experiences you have had in each of the jobs you have held and summarise these starting with what you think would be the most relevant to the recruiter.

6. Achievements
Include your key achievements in the different posts that you have had. If you are invited to an interview, make sure you are ready to talk about them in detail.

7. Address career gaps
It is better to address a recent lengthy career gap than leave a questionable hole in the chronology of your CV. If you have had a year off to go travelling or time off to raise a family, then detail this in your CV.

8. Hobbies and interests
If you want to include a section on hobbies and interests then only include things that might differentiate you in a positive light from other applications. Avoid the obvious as it won’t add anything to your application.

9. References
While you don’t have to include this with your CV it is good to make it clear at the bottom of your CV that references are available upon request. Have at least two referees who would be prepared to give you a reference if required, ideally in a professional capacity.

10. Don’t forget to run a spell check!

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones