Create a Winning CV | Collins McNicholas

Dos & Don’ts

when preparing your CV

Do

  • Make sure your CV is well laid out, with clear headings, easy-to-read font (don’t mix & match) and is free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • Keep it clear, concise & relevant. Keep the length to around 2-3 A4 pages, or 3-4 pages if you have considerable work experience. Employers often only spend a couple of minutes on each resume, so it’s important to keep it brief.
  • Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for – it’s a good idea to review the job specification for the role and match your own experience as best you can to the experience & skills required
  • Clarify any ‘gaps’ in your CV – whether you were travelling for a year, returned to full-time education or job-seeking, it’s important that any breaks in employment are explained
  • Use words that promote positive associations (e.g. established, led, successful) and avoid negative words such as dismissed, argued, withdrew.
  • Focus on key achievements because achievements tell the reader not just what you have done but how well you have done it. You should use more achievements for your most recent role and less the further back you go into your career. Use common sense in interpreting this guideline e.g. if you were a short time in your recent role you would not list many achievements whereas if you were a long time in the role before that you would list more achievements.
  • Achievements should be listed in order of difficulty – remember people reading CV’s are busy and will probably scan your CV so the major achievements need to stand out.
  • Use action verbs in the past tense such as led, managed, increased, reduced etc.
  • Use quantified achievements e.g. reduced debtors days by 10 days in 2009. Exceeded profitability budget by 5 % in 2010.
  • Re-read your CV, ensure that all of the most important information is listed first and filter out anything that is not relevant.

Don’t

  • Squash your CV. As a rule of thumb, three pages is the maximum recommended length, however, if it runs over, don’t worry!
  • Write your CV in text paragraphs.  Bullet points are recommended for listing responsibilities under each role as it is easier to pick out relevant experience.
  • Assume that the interviewer / HR Recruiter will know that you have done what you have done.
  • Lie! You won’t have done everything, so don’t pretend you have – if you are successful, it will become clear quite quickly if you have over-sold yourself.
  • Use text boxes or columns when formatting your CV – keep it clear and simple.
  • Use jargon – using too many acronyms or in-house terms may be confusing.
  • Produce your CV in PDF documents – Word is the standard and preferred application when submitting your CV.
  • Include any sensitive or confidential information regarding your current or past employers.