A stand-out CV is one of the most essential steps in the initial stages of getting a new job. It’s the face of your career and your very short-lived opportunity to entice the employers. Most hiring managers take a few seconds to scan through CVs before making the conscious decision to either read on or toss. If you don’t grab their attention enough in these first few seconds, your CV is most likely not going to be read by the same employer again.

And with so many CV tips out there, it might be difficult to get the right advice for writing your specific CV. With this in mind, we’ve narrowed down the most important dos and don’ts of CVs that are relevant across all industries and career or education history.


Contact Details

CVs include contact methods with which hiring managers can reach you. Keep the below tips in mind when writing your contact details.
[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Miss common contact methods.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Generally, contact details in a CV will include your email, phone number(s) and residential address. Leaving any of the above out may seem suspicious as well as unprofessional. A company whose policy is to initially contact their candidates via email is unlikely to reach out to you if your CV doesn’t show your email.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Do: Keep it in an obvious place.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Put your contact details right underneath your name or at the very top of the body of your CV. Make them obviously visible. Employers tend to keep piles of potential candidate CVs and make contact. Make this process smooth and by doing so, make yourself easily contactable.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Use an unprofessional email.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Don’t keep the silly email address you created when you were 13. Ch0c0l8Addict87 or miss_conf1dence is not likely going to get you contacted.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Keep it current.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Your address, email and phone number should of course be true. The employer should be able to reach you via the details given. Make sure to also change your voicemail as well to match your current situation. Don’t leave your “I’m away in Japan until 23rd January 2013” voice message.[/su_spoiler]

Professional Summary

Your CV’s summary or an overview of your history is commonly included in a CV at the very start after your contact details.

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Write in third person.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]“James is a highly dedicated professional and…” he absolutely had no reason to refer to himself as James because the employer knows that he wrote the blurb himself. Referring to yourself in third person is unnecessary and can come off as pretentious.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Tailor it.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Tweak your summary to fit the industry, company and position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an accounting position, there is no need to include your extensive and strong customer service skills, when you could use that space to highlight more relevant skills.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Be too generic.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Attention to detail, great time management skills, proficiency with Microsoft Office, ability to work in a fast-paced environment… According to CVs, everyone possesses these qualities. Minimise these and get right down to the specific qualities that are relevant to the position.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Keep it short.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Don’t spell out all your work experience in this section when they’re already included in your CV. Use the summary to mention your best qualities and most relevant experience to entice the hiring manager to read on.[/su_spoiler]


Employment and Education History

Of course, the most central information that your CV tries to convey is how your relevant work or education experience and performance can make you the perfect fit for the position you’re applying for.

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Lie.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Make sure that everything you write in your CV is true, including your position, duration of employment and duties. There is nothing worse than exaggerating the truths or lying on your resume only to be completely humiliated in the interview. Also, even employers that don’t hire you can be a great networking resource, so don’t burn bridges by trying to deceive them.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Explain it.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Just writing down when and where you worked or studied is not enough to show how your experience can be relevant to the advertised job. Make sure to describe your responsibilities and achievements. Be specific in explaining your achievements, too. Quantify them where you can, instead of just saying “increased revenue.”[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Leave gaps.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]If there are gaps in your employment history, show what you did during those unemployed periods to work on your professional or personal development skills. Employers are likely to get suspicious when noticing gaps and most of the time, won’t pick up the phone to ask you to clarify.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Tailor it.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Tailor your experience to highlight the skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Every CV should be edited to match the specific skills that are sought by the employer. Look for the keywords in the job advert and reuse these words in your CV to stand out.[/su_spoiler]


Overall Style & General Guidelines

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Make it messy.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Make sure that your CV makes sense from a formatting perspective and that it is easy to follow. Make the section titles prominent so that the reader knows what they’re reading about. Use common and easily readable fonts and sizes, and don’t use a lot of colours. Too much white space (e.g. double spacing your lines) can also make it confusing to read.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Check your spelling and grammar.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Spelling is generally checked by any software you use to write a word document, but a lot of the common grammar mistakes aren’t picked up. Are you sure that your apostrophe’s are in the right place’s? Google it if you’re not sure.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Use too much jargon.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Definitely use industry-specific words, but be careful not to use too many abbreviations and acronyms that not everyone in the industry could be familiar with.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Keep it detailed but short.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Aim for your CV to be 3 pages maximum. Without a lot of work and education history, your CV may be 1-2 pages. While you might want to show off all of your experience and skills, there is no need to send a biography. Choose your words wisely to make it short and sweet but also detailed and informative.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Don’t: Be an idiot on social media.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Make sure you search your name and see what comes up. If there are drunk videos of yourself floating around, make sure to delete them. Set your Facebook to private if you don’t want potential employers looking through your timeline.[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”Do: Polish up your LinkedIn.” open=”yes” icon=”arrow”]Nowadays, one of the first things hiring managers do is look at your professional profile on LinkedIn. Make sure that your CV and LinkedIn line up, and that you have a professional photo.[/su_spoiler]