A good CV is imperative if you want to make it through the first stage of the selection process. We see hundred of CVs every week and are constantly amazed by how many of them ‘ some from executive-level candidates ‘ fail to do that person any justice.

Like most recruiters, we spend just seconds scanning each CV to decide whether it’s worth a closer read. That means that the way you lay the information out on the page matters almost as much as the content.

With all this in mind, here are our seven tips for CV success.

1. Make it easy to read

This means using a clear layout, a decent-sized font (10pt minimum) and breaking the text up into short, concise paragraphs. Avoid unusual and distracting fonts and graphics, too.

You can also forget that old rule of squeezing everything onto two sides of A4. It’s far better to spread things over up to four pages and leave some white space.

2. Make contact details clear

Make it easy for recruitment firms or potential employers to get in touch with you by making your phone number and email address really prominent. We also suggest using spaces in phone numbers, which makes them easier to dial.

3. Begin with a short summary

Anybody wading through a lot of CVs will appreciate a quick summary of your key skills, experience and career aims. It may also be worth saying where you’re based and whether you’re willing to relocate or travel. Keep the language you use clear and simple for your reader’s benefit.

4. Add your employment history

List previous jobs with the most recent first. For each, include your job title; key responsibilities and achievements; a brief description of the business you worked for (if it’s a smaller company); and your start and finish dates. Make sure these are consistent and give the month as well as the year.


5. Give details of your education

If your qualifications are particularly impressive, recent or relevant to the position you’re applying for, you might enter this section higher up. If it’s not directly relevant it’s fine to add it later, after your employment history.

6. Say where you’re based

It’s worth mentioning if you’re willing to work away from home, commute daily or weekly or travel extensively for your work.

7. End with a couple of hobbies and interests

Getting the balance here is tricky. Generally it’s a good idea to mention any hobbies or activities that indicate a positive attitude, personal development and mental or physical wellbeing. Keep to the point and avoid adding irrelevant or very personal details.

And finally…

  • Think of your CV as your personal sales brochure ‘ it has to work hard to get your unique qualities and experience across
  • See the time it takes you to write as an investment. It’s not easy to put a great CV together, but it’ll be worth it
  • Consider having a couple of different versions of your CV for different job roles
  • Never invent extra responsibilities, qualifications or Olympic medal-worthy sporting achievements. If fact, don’t fib at all ‘ it will come back to haunt you
  • If you’re an ultra-creative type, these rules aren’t for you. Your potential employer wants to be wowed, so do your own thing and be as individual as you like.