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CV Do's and Don’ts

You should never lose sight of what you want your curriculum vitae to do for you – get you an interview for your dream job!  When preparing your CV think about your skills, competencies, qualifications and experience.  What are your selling points and strengths?



  • Take your time!  Plan it well - your CV is an important marketing tool where you are the product and the CV is the chance to “sell” yourself.

  • First impressions count – you only have 20-30 seconds to grab the reader’s attention.

  • Ensure the document looks attractive – give thought to the layout, use headings and bullet points and remember the importance of white space.

  • Correct spelling and grammar are essential – using the computer spell check facility is not enough.

  • Check it, check it again, get someone else to check it and then check it again.

  • Include a summary up front that makes the reader want to find out more.

  • Keep it up to date.

  • Keep it truthful but of course, you don’t have to tell the whole truth.

  • Do be clear, concise and accurate.

  • Try to tailor the CV to suit the job being applied for – reflect the terminology used in the advertisement.  Remember word processing makes this a lot easier.

  • Keep it short – length will vary according to age but preferably 2 pages and NEVER more than four pages.

  • Use strong, positive words – avoid any negative comments.

  • Ensure it is results oriented - list achievements, not just responsibilities.

  • Use reverse chronological order for work experience – include dates, company name and activity and job title.

  • Qualifications should be arranged to show commitment to relevant ongoing continuing professional development.

  • Wherever possible, send to a named person – if unsure contact the company to check.


  • Don’t waste time saying it is a Curriculum Vitae – it’s pretty obvious what it is!

  • Don’t use coloured paper (or cheap paper, for that matter) – stick to good quality cream or white stock.

  • Print (laser quality), don’t photocopy.

  • Don’t include a photograph unless specifically requested.  After all, you don’t want people to fall about laughing at your passport photograph and not notice your suitability for the position.

  • Don’t fold the CV - post out in A4 envelopes.

  • Do not mention salary unless requested.

  • Do not disclose reasons for leaving prior jobs.

  • Curriculum vitae means “the course of (one’s) life” but don’t take it literally and give a full life story – stick to the facts.


Your CV should be easy to read and understood by anyone at any level in a short time.  However, your CV cannot do the job alone – it needs a good covering letter to ensure it is truly effective in getting you to the interview stage.


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