CVs For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition) - dummies
Cheat Sheet

CVs For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Need useful and concise tips and rules for writing and submitting a CV (curriculum vitae) in the UK? Look no further. This Cheat Sheet is packed with handy, at-a-glance essential tips and reminders to help make writing your CV a breeze.

Starting to Think about Your CV

Get some paper and a pen or pencil, or grab your laptop and start making some notes for yourself before launching into writing your perfect CV (Curriculum Vitae):

  • Think about the type of job you want to nab.

  • Write your key skills such as IT, languages or academic achievements.

  • List the dates and titles of your previous positions (use years; miss out the months).

  • Make a note of any additional information the employer might want to know, such as your climb on Kilimanjaro or the charity you volunteer for.

Polishing and Launching Your CV

Hone your information into a killer CV (Curriculum Vitae) with these tips. Before sending out your CV to potential employers or agencies, check you’ve done the following:

  • Place your information in sections using reverse chronological order and accurate dates. Include skills, employment, education and personal information.

  • Edit the information mercilessly, tighten up and blitz the excess waffle and conversational tone in favour of a formal tone.

  • Read through your rough draft several times and ditch awkward phrases.

  • Format your CV using not more than two standard fonts at minimum 10 point size.

  • Pay particular attention to detail, grammar and key words.

  • Forget about including a photograph of yourself, unless you’re applying for jobs in theatre or fashion.

  • Don’t go over the top with expensive paper if you’re sending out scores of CVs.

  • Read your CV again before popping it into an envelope (or clicking Send) and sighing with quiet confidence.

What to Leave Out of Your CV

Your final CV needs to be concise, well-written and not hindered by long-winded phrases or excess content that slows the reader down and sabotages an otherwise competitive document. Here are some items to ditch:

  • Unnecessary document title: You don’t have to begin your CV by flashing across the top ‘Curriculum Vitae’. You know, the employer knows, the entire world knows it’s a CV. Eliminate the document title and use precious space for more vital information.

  • Career objectives: Oh, so ancient! The reason you’re applying for a position is to either change your career or elevate yourself to the next rung of the corporate ladder. Wasting two or three sentences stating your long-term aspirations doesn’t hit the mark.

  • Reasons for leaving other jobs: Usually you’re asked such questions on an application form. The employer knows there are lots of reasons why people leave their jobs, otherwise they wouldn’t called it an ‘employment history’. You can explain your reasons at the interview, if asked.

  • Lessons learnt from your career: Some candidates make the cardinal mistake of stating how many skills they acquired from each position. Instead, use the Key Skills box at the top of your CV to summarise the experience and skills you amassed throughout your career. The CV isn’t a self-searching exercise; it’s there to sell you within two pages.

  • Salary expectations and how much you earn: An employer usually asks you to write salary information or expectations on a cover letter rather than your CV. You’ve seen the job ad, so you have an idea about how much is being offered.

  • Family details: The employer isn’t interested in how many times you have been married, or how many offspring you have! Don’t state that you’ve been married for the last ten years with two beautiful children.

  • Travel memoirs: Don’t write about all the countries you’ve visited and how long you backpacked around them. These details take up too much space and are usually irrelevant. Simply list in your Interests Section that you’ve travelled extensively.

  • Health: Unless your health directly affects your ability to do the job, it’s irrelevant.

  • Employment gaps: Modern recruiters realise that people move around from one place to another, change jobs and sometimes take sabbaticals to convalesce or take stock. Unless you have significant gaps in your CV (more than two years), don’t start explaining the reasons you didn’t work from September to February. The employer assumes you were recovering from illness, on sabbatical or waiting for another position.