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 / Trainee Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Trainee Sales Executive is re...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer - Peterborough - £18,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Cambridgeshire - £23,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Front-End Develo...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower