CV Tools

What Makes a Good CV?

The CV is one of the most important documents when looking for a job or applying for one. It showcases you, your experience and your skills as well as adding a little personality into the process. But what makes a good CV and what is worth avoiding?

Basic tips

While you will create a basic CV to save time, don’t be tempted to send the same CV to every job unless they happen to be for the same role. Make sure you personalise it to the job and company in question to ensure all the information is relevant and helps showcase what you offer to the employer.

Do include social media profiles, especially LinkedIn or if you have a blog. These can help the company get to know you and research you a little – so make sure anything you include links to help your case rather than hinder it.

Writing tips

Keywords are a concept mostly associated with websites but also applies to CVs. When creating a CV, it is important to use relevant keywords for the job you are applying for but to do so in a natural way. So if you are applying for an accountancy role, you might use terms around the job and those mentioned in the advert.

However, avoid using too much industry jargon because there’s a good chance that the person reading the CV doesn’t do your job. They may be HR staff, personal assistants or even a computer program that filters out unsuitable people. If you use too much jargon, these people won’t know what you are on about even if your potential boss might and this can get you relegated to the ‘decline’ pile.

Including an opening statement is a good move that is a quick chance to introduce yourself, let them know who you are and make that good first impression before moving into the meat of the document. You can highlight some experience or evidence based reasons why you are good for the job but don’t go for general statements.

Skills and experience tips

While it was once the case that you listed every job you have ever had, the current CV writing experts say to focus on the experience that is relevant to the job. So if you are applying for an engineering job, don’t worry about the six months you spent working in the supermarket when you were in your late teens. Focus on achievements, rather than just listing duties.

Don’t worry about telling the story of each of your jobs on the CV. For example, there’s no need to tell anyone why you left a job on a CV – if the interviewer wants to know, they will ask. Instead, use the precious space to focus on positive and relevant things.

Design tips

While you have to put a bit of information on a CV, it is important to do it in a way that is easy to read. Designers call it ‘white space’ areas where there is no text or colour and this helps to draw the eye to the important stuff. So, while content is much more important than design, these tips can add to the overall professional appearance of your CV.