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Professional CV Advice

How to Make a Curriculum Vitae - CV Tips

This article with professional CV advice by one of our guest authors will help you understand how to approach your curriculum vitae. You can put the CV tips you'll find here to immediate use!

Professional CV Advice

by Ruadhri McGarry

The main focus of your Curriculum Vitae (which means the course or story of your life) is as a sales document. Job seekers need to take all the steps they can to make sure their CV is targeted, accessible and contains the information that the reader wants to see.

Almost all employers have a short amount of time to make a decision on applicants, and often look for "why not" factors rather than "what ifs" when it comes to short listing, and also for better or worse, believe in the maxim that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. The "Career Curve" is what employers want to see. They want to pick up a CV and see quickly that this person has added value at every point in their career, has made or saved money, has been promoted or has guaranteed solidity and reliability.


Make sure your personal details are on the CV and are correct. Don't go into too much detail on early education but ensure a career summary is included. First impressions count.

Career Curve

So what does this mean? Essentially you need to show that you have improved as an employee and as an asset to your past employers. In basic sales terms, you need to pay attention to features, not just benefits. You could say your car has a sunroof, but you need to say that because your car has a sunroof, your motoring experience is so much better because of better light, ventilation and so on! If you can show that each career move has given more responsibility and allowed each employer to benefit more from you being there, that's half the battle.

Which Font Should I Use?

A very simple issue that won't save your CV from the bin, but if you get it wrong, will guarantee it goes there and quickly. In our experience, Arial or Times are the best bet, followed by Tahoma and Verdana. These "are universal" fonts, everybody's eyes are used to them! If your trade is in the creative world, feel free to experiment, otherwise, play it safe. Don't use something like Courier New or radical fonts. They will put off the reader. Finally on fonts, ensure that your font choice is consistent.

How Long Should My CV Be?

Of course, how long is a piece of string? Ideally your CV should be two pages with a maximum of three. There are exceptions, but think of sitting in an interview with a hiring manager who has seven A4 sheets in front of her, never mind trying to navigate through it on a desktop. Whatever length you choose, you should NEVER have a job description bleeding onto the next page. Again, in the interview scenario, it can make things awkward.

Common CV Mistakes

Leaving out an email address - easy to do, but guarantees a waste of time for all concerned. Spelling and grammar - would you employ someone who does not bother to use Spell check?

Equal priorities given to each work experience – a lot of CVs are organic documents. What was a big selling point ten years ago is less relevant now. Make sure that the further back you go in your CV, the less attention should be given to it.

Too much information – rewrite, amend and be ruthless with your curriculum vitae. Make sure that there is no "padding" and that there is no redundant language. A good indicator to this is repetition of the expression "myself" believe it or not!

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