Whether you like it or not, your CV is the first impression a potential employer will have of you. While writing your CV might often be the most boring task in your job search, it’s the only tool you have to show who you are, so may as well make the best of it.
The Do’s and Don'ts of CV Writing
Do - Get your spelling and grammar right
Spelling and grammatical mistakes are all too common. Showing a distinct lack of attention to detail can damage your chances of success, especially for a role that requires accuracy. Get a friend to proofread your CV or at least use Grammarly.
Don’t - Try and be funny
It is difficult to take a person seriously when their resume states “career break in 2002 to renovate my house”. It only takes a second pair of eyes to read over your resume and limit these potentially disastrous mistakes.
Do - Treat it like you would treat your online dating profile
Most people include a profile of themselves at the start of their resume. This should give the employer an overview of what skills you can bring to their business and what attributes you have to add value.
Just pretend you’re uploading your CV to an online dating app. You’d make sure to use the best photo (it’s all about that angle), so take that approach and introduce yourself in the best way possible.
Download Industry Specific CV Templates
Don’t - Pray for world peace
Profiles should not be used to tell the employer what you want or your chance to inform an employer of your personal life statement. While we would all like world peace, it’s more than likely not what your potential employer is looking for (and if they are, you might want to rethink your job).
Do - Put exact employment dates
You should offer exact start and end dates for your career history and education. While you may not think that a short term contract role is relevant enough to give precise dates, you are leaving the employer open to provide his/her own theory on why you would not offer up the information. Saying you worked for a company from 2008-2009 doesn’t give enough detail.
Don’t - Try and hide gaps
Unemployment is something that can happen to the best of us and there’s no reason for you not to include it when writing your CV. However, there’s no reason to label yourself as “unemployed” either. Think about whether maybe during that time you were in a volunteer position or maybe undertaking further training? There are multiple ways of explaining unemployment on your CV.
Do - Let the Employer reach you
Yes, you should include your contact information on your CV. Ideally, you would place your contact details on the first page, in the header, of your CV. Contact details means phone number and e-mail address.
Most of the countries we are recruiting in, do also not need you to provide information on your date of birth or even a picture of yourself. However, different countries different CV writing rules.
Don’t - Talk about your family
Think about it this way, the more (inappropriate) information you provide, the higher your chances of rejection are.
Whether you like it or not, hiring managers are also only humans and their job is to judge your CV. So if you include a photo or even how many children you have, their decision on whether to invite you to an interview, will be biased.
Why distract them from your achievements and skills?
Do - Keep it real
Most employers will skim the standout points of your resume. Outline your main responsibilities and pinpoint two or three achievements in that job. Achievements are what most employers will be drawn to immediately and your resume should not be longer than two pages.
Remember your CV is the key to gaining an interview where you will talk around the points you’ve made. Keep it interesting, relevant and professional.
Don’t - list your daily tasks only
Sometimes, we get caught up in doing our work and don’t consider it as an “achievement”. Yet, hiring managers, want to know what it is that you achieved, what it is that makes you better than those hundreds of other CVs they will have to go through.
If you’re reading this and thinking, I’ve got no accomplishment, then you should listen to Liz Ryan on this one.
We also provide all our candidates with a fantastic interview preparation document, which you can download below.