Never Leave Home Without… A Killer CV

There are loads of conflicting articles detailing the dos and don’ts of CV writing. Whilst there are a few essential things to include and some to avoid, the general format and what you write is up to you.

When it comes to applying for a new job, your CV needs to stand out from the crowd. Our specialist consultants read hundreds of CVs every day, so we’ve asked them to provide their top likes/dislikes to help make your CV be the one that stands out:


  • Use a sensible black font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, Verdana)
  • Include a key achievements section (recent, relevant achievements)
  • Add a key skills section detailing your key skills for the role
  • Don’t use text boxes or tables
  • Don’t include pictures or logos
  • Ensure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors


Format and Presentation:


Make sure your CV is specific, concise, and all importantly relevant. In general a CV should have the following sections:


  • Contact details:


Put your full contact details on the top of your CV, including: address, mobile number, landline, and email address. Make sure these are up to date – if we can’t contact you what’s the point of sending in your CV? Also, while that personal email address seemed really witty 5 years ago (we’ve all done it, don’t worry), it’s worth getting a more professional one for job applications.


  • Personal profile:


This should be a paragraph or two explaining what makes you a good candidate for the role. This should briefly cover your background, relevant skills, and an insight into you as an individual.


  • Key skills:


Include a skills matrix at the top of your CV highlighting the main skills you have as an individual. These can be technical and/or personal skills. This makes it easier to quickly identify your suitability for the job. It also helps you get noticed as we search job boards and our database using keywords.


  • Key achievements:


This should be a list of 3-5 key achievements. These must be recent (last 3 years, ideally), and relevant for the role you are applying for. Be specific about your achievements- statistics and figures are important.


  • Career history:


In reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent) list your relevant experience with descriptions of your duties at each position. Make sure you explain what you have gained from the experience, rather than merely what you did. It’s important to acknowledge any career gaps in this part.


  • Academic background/professional qualifications:


This should list your academic background with the most recent at the top. If you are a recent graduate this section should contain good detail about the course you did, especially modules relevant to the jobs you are applying for.

You should include the subjects, grades achieved, institutions, and course dates. This is the same for professional qualifications/training.


  • Interests/hobbies:


Include some details of any interests or hobbies you have. Make sure you think about what these say about you as a person and whether these support your application or not.

Use a font that is easy to read and a decent size (11 or 12pt). Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, and Verdana are all fine. We also recommend not using different font colours, black is fine!

Spend some time shifting things around until it looks attractive and easy to digest. It’s worth experimenting with bullet points to try to break up the text. Stay clear of pictures and company logos.


Read it Through:


Have you done the ‘So What?’ test? If you claim something on your CV, ask: ‘So what does that mean to a prospective employer’? Keep your CV streamlined. Stick to what’s relevant.

Read your CV through thoroughly and check for spelling/grammar mistakes. Don’t rely solely on spellcheck. If possible get somebody else to read through your CV too. People have been rejected for jobs because of misspellings on their CVs, so getting it right is crucial. Read it aloud to check it sounds ok.