Write the perfect CV

Here are a few tips:

Make an immediate impact
It's been said that, on average, an employer spends approximately four seconds looking at a CV before deciding whether an applicant is worth assessing further and possibly shortlisting for interview, or not. So, you need to create a punch straight away. Waffling text that smashes the word count but strays off point is out - keep it concise and consider listing your key details in bullet points.

Contact details

A basic requirement, but absolutely vital. If you think about it, the purpose of a CV is to convince the employer that you are worth contacting to meet in person. So, make sure your contact details are clearly displayed, not hidden away, and that everything is up to date. Provide a telephone number that you can be contacted on during daytime hours - don't include a home 'phone number if you're not there during the day. List your mobile instead. Ensure the email address you have disclosed is one you monitor daily.

Education and qualifications

Depending on your age and circumstance, you can prioritise your education accordingly. If you have a degree, include details of that but don't necessarily list all 11 GCSEs, and the grades in each, that you achieved 20 years previously. Is that relevant to the role you're applying for? Don't overlook any qualifications you may have acquired outside of formal education - clean driving license, training courses - anything which demonstrates you have plenty of strings to your bow.

Former jobs

If you've held several positions in the past, prioritise the most recent and work backwards. Include company name, your job title, the dates you were employed there and a brief summary of your responsibilities. You don't need to include all responsibilities but give some thought to the position you're applying for and how your experience relates to that. Highlight transferable skills. Make the employer think, 'this candidate already does this, this and this.'

Personal statement

What you say here might be the clincher - after all, for certain vacancies you might be one of dozens of new graduates, with comparable qualifications, pitching for one role. Refrain from cliche. Stuff like 'keen to learn', 'ambitious individual', 'hunger for knowledge', 'passion to succeed' and 'hard worker' has been read so many times before your CV might be instantly relegated to the slush pile.

Instead, include any unexpected skills you have or any life experiences which make you more employable. You've coached junior footballers for the past three years? Spent a year volunteering at a school in Africa? These things say a lot about your character and work ethic. If you write an online blog, or have your own website, mention that and include the URL so the employer can look these up for themselves. And if they do, well done: you've given them an extra hook and gained what could be a crucial advantage.


A CV should at least have details of two people who will act as referees for you. If you don't know who these will be at the time of sending your CV in to an employer, you can state 'references available upon request' - no-one will be contacted, in any case, unless you're about to be offered the job. But make sure you confirm two people and pre-warn them that they'll be contacted before you disclose the details to the employer.

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