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CV Do’s & Don’ts

Facts About Curriculum Vitae Formats

Get the interview with a compelling CV
Get the interview with a compelling CV

A successful CV is one that lands you the interview. While there is no standard CV template, there are strategies to employ when writing a CV.

A professional CV must convey the positive difference you will make for each employer you approach. That requires customising your CV template to suit every opportunity that comes your way. By thoroughly researching the company, and by paying attention to key words in the job description, you’ll get a good sense of the company’s “pain points.” Use this knowledge to your advantage! Make sure your achievements show how you successfully handled similar situations.

The decision to hire is a ‘buying’ decision on the part of an employer and your CV is their first impression of you. Present yourself in a thoughtful, straightforward, easy-to-understand way. Look neat and organised. If this is challenging for you, seek design and writing help for a good CV format. Sample CVs can be easily researched.

General Tips

  • Often, the first person to see a CV uses a list of criteria to screen it ‘out’ rather than ‘in’. So, make sure your CV reflects the job description well.
  • A CV is generally a door opener but can also be an effective follow-up tool after meeting someone.
  • Some interviewers use CVs as a guide for asking questions. It is acceptable to keep your CV in front of you, but refer to it only when you need to.

Content DOs

  • DO use keywords found in the position requirements
  • DO show how your skills and achievements made a difference
  • DO use numbers and percentages to show measurable successes wherever possible
  • DO illustrate how past employers were better off because of your contributions
  • DO use a simple design with clear headings and plain fonts
  • DO use a universal typeface, such as Arial
  • DO use plain fonts: no italics, underlining or borders
  • DO use good quality white paper
  • DO keep an extra printed copy close
  • DO provide your full contact details on the first page and include only a picture if relevant for the position
  • DO feature specific and quantifiable achievements rather than duties and responsibilities
  • DO use verbs such as created, enhanced, saved, launched, negotiated
  • DO be short and concise
  • DO list your work history and educational details starting with the most recent
  • DO explain gaps in your career history
  • DO check and recheck for spelling and grammatical errors
  • DO leave out irrelevant or negative information

Content Don’ts

  • DO NOT send poor quality photocopies
  • DO NOT exaggerate or misrepresent your accomplishments
  • DO NOT claim complete responsibility for achievements
  • DO NOT write a novel
  • DO NOT use casual abbreviations, overly descriptive language or jargon
  • DO NOT Mailshot companies- direct approaches should be personalised
  • DO NOT be dishonest
  • DO NOT inflate statements or be arrogant
  • DO NOT include salary details
  • DO NOT hide failures or shortcomings- explain how you improved and how you learned from them
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