How do I: Write the perfect CV?

  • @Jamie_Merrill

It may translate as "course of life" but that doesn't mean your curriculum vitae should give an exhaustive summary of every aspect of your life including pages of interests, hobbies, irrelevant qualifications and every odd job you've undertaken since you were 11.

A survey by recently found that nearly one-third of British employers said they spend one minute or less reviewing a CV, so make it short and sharp, ideally no more than two pages long.

If the job is skills-based, consider a functional CV that lists your talents and qualifications first and includes job history nearer the end, detailing dates, positions and career achievements.

After your name and contact details, include a skills profile of two or three sentences in which you explain why you are right for the role. If you get this right, employers will read on to your biographical information below.

"It's crucial to make sure each and every CV you send off is relevant for the job you are applying for," says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management and author of You're Hired! How to Write a Brilliant CV. "Do you homework and tailor each application accordingly."

"Nine out of 10 CVs I see have spelling errors or sentences that don't make sense," Mills says. "So make sure you get someone you trust to proofread yours for you. The easiest way to fail the paper sift is to misspell something in your opening paragraph."

And be sure to use plain text rather than any fancy fonts, layouts or formats in your document. Mills explains: "Most large employers and recruitment agencies use databases to automatically read CVs and if you get too creative with its format your attempt will fall at the first hurdle."

Likewise don't start your CV with the heading "curriculum vitae" as some software packages will read this as your name. "Start with your name and don't list your age or marital status. It's old-fashioned and will make your application look dated," Mills says.