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Writing a successful CV

Employers receive an average of 60 applicants for every advertisement for a low-skilled job, and 20 for every skilled job.

Significantly, almost half of these candidates are perfectly suitable for the role, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

So that makes their CV (curriculum vitae) all the more important when attempting to stand out from the crowd.

There are some golden rules for getting a CV correct, not least accuracy, spelling and grammar.

Examples include: a lawyer stressing his “dew diligence”, or the applicant who ignored commas when describing his interests as “cooking dogs and interesting people”.

If you are sending a CV as a hard copy, along with a job application, then it needs to be typed neatly. Most libraries have public computers which can be used by those who do not have their own, or if your only access to a screen is when you are at work – and obviously that is not ideal.

Nowadays applicants are asked to send a digital copy of a CV. LinkedIn is a perfect example – simply click ‘submit your CV’ and it is automatically sent to the person posting the job opportunity.

FYI – the first set of “eyes” to see it might be an automated search for key words, so experts suggest applicants ensure mandatory requirements in the job advert are included in a CV.

Digital CVs should be in a simple format and font so readability is not affected on different screens.

Other tips from Mrs Mills, the CIPD, and the National Careers Service include:

  •  Tailor a CV to a specific job – it is vital to ensure the script is relevant to each job application, rather than sending the same generic CV
  • Keep it simple – it should be easy to read and use active language. Two pages of A4 is the maximum length, with a mini profile included in the first half page
  • Include key information – personal details, including name, address, phone number, email address and any professional social media presence should be clear. A date of birth is no longer needed, owing to age discrimination rules. A photo is only essential for jobs such as acting and modelling, otherwise it is a matter of choice
  • Showcase achievements – offer evidence of how targets were exceeded and ideas created, but always be honest
  • Check and double check – avoid sloppy errors, take a fresh look the next day and then ask for a second opinion and a fresh pair of eyes from a trusted friend or colleague.
  • Be sure to out your modesty aside and show self-confidence in yourself and this will resonate from your CV.
  • There are plenty of useful tools and templates to assist people writing up their CV for the first time, or brushing up an existing one.


The National Careers Service has a CV writing factsheet and a CV builder with various tips and templates.


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