• We use cookies to help make our website work. LEARN MORE

Writing a good CV

by Helix Recruitment

Assuming your aim is to apply for a new job, your CV is your passport to an interview!

The principle objective is to whet the appetite of the prospective employer to want to know more by offering a face-to face meeting! Too much information and you risk adding something the reader will not like − too little and you may not tick all the boxes!!

Most Job Descriptions are written on the basis of competencies − what you will be expected to achieve and what it is believed you will need to achieve this! Your CV should be written with this in mind and if you are looking at jobs requiring different skill sets, prepare different CVs to suit; don"t rely on a “one size fits all” approach.

If you have any questions or would like a leaflet containing this information, please contact Clare Donovan at Helix Recruitment clare@helixgroup.co.uk 01323 445464 or download it from http://jobs.helixrecruitment.co.uk/writing-a-good-cv

Some DOs and DON'Ts

DO: Try to keep it to 2 pages

DON'T: use the first person (and definitely not your name), long sentences and two words when one will do! Think Hemingway not Shakespeare!

DO: state clearly what you do, i.e. what you sell and to whom, whether you have line management, marketing or other responsibility.

DON'T: state the obvious and don"t regurgitate your Job Description.

DO: HIGHLIGHT your achievements: if you"re proud of something “shout” about it!

DON'T: use superlatives such as “VAST experience”, “outstanding communicator”, be straightforward and honest. DO: Review your CV regularly and adjust it as your career develops. Think about competencies and achievements which are most relevant to your aspirations.

DO: Add a brief Profile but be prepared to be challenged on any claim you make!

DON'T: just add a current job to an old CV. Change tenses and reduce content to reflect your successes; don"t repeat yourself. DO: ALWAYS REMEMBER TO CHECK THOROUGHLY and use a reliable spell checker!

DON'T: make it too short! Too little information can be as bad as too much − go to 3 pages if you need to.

DO: Remove your CV from Job Boards when you are happily employed!

NEVER: give your NI or passport number or other information which could lead to complete identity theft.

The following is a suggestion as to what you should include in your CV but is NOT definitive.

SECTION 1 Personal Information

This is your personal, contact information and some legal details “for the record”

Name & Home Town Indicate if you are happy to relocate and your preferred location

Contact phone & emails Home, mobile and PRIVATE email address.

Nationality / right to workAlways state your nationality.

If you are not British or EU National, explain IN FULL your right to work in the UK - VISA status and dates.

Personal Information Date of Birth is NOT required

Marital Status Optional, as is information about dependants - this could be used in a discriminatory manner.

Gone are the days when you had to add your family history! Names of spouse and any children (let alone th dog) are NOT important.

Profile If you choose to add one (see below) − keep it short

SECTION 2 Career / Work Experience

Current position Dates, Job Title, Company

MAIN responsibilities and KEY achievements.

Keep it short and to the point, use bullet points to give emphasis

Previous positions Reverse chronological order

Information as above, in less detail.

If you have been in career positions for some time, there is no need to mention your Team Leader role at McDonalds when you were at college!

SECTION 3 Education

University College etc. Qualifications - with dates, results and any additional relevant information eg Thesis/Project title or content.

If it"s a while ago − keep it short.

Secondary School Qualifications - with dates and results


Additional/Professional Training List (with dates) any vocational, business, professional development or other relevant courses.

If this is a long list simply use a phrase such as “numerous courses covering different aspects of business/selling/marketing/recruiting/manufacturing” − delete whichever does not apply!

SECTION 4 Other Information

Any other relevant information Language skills

Driving Licence (with penalty points),

IT literacy with specific software skills where appropriate

Unless you are a relatively recent graduate there is no need to mention that you were your Faculty/Year Rep at College, or Head Pupil at school!

SECTION 5 Leisure / Extracurricular Interests

Life is not all about work! Don't go on about your love of anything in particular, simply state whatyou like to do outside of work

AVOID religion and politics

Again unless you are a relatively recent graduate, being Captain of the 1st XV / XI of whatever school team is really NOT important.

To Profile or not to Profile?

A simple 5 or 6 line profile can be a useful tool, but beware of overstating your ability and adding anything you cannot corroborate which may be challenged at interview.

As a good example ........

A medical sales professional with proven success in primary and secondary care.

  • Budding marketer, currently studying for CIM Diploma
  • Articulate, confident and persistently enthusiastic, able to motivate others.
  • Ambitious, competitive but realistic.

And an example of what NOT to write:

  • An extremely talented medical sales professional with outstanding ability to achieve results.
  • Vast experience of marketing having prepared mailings and advertising copy.
  • Superb communicator, outstanding interpersonal skills; a born leader.
  • Highly capable of achieving great things in a short time frame; competing to win at all times.

5 KEY POINTS:....................

  1. Keep to 2 pages if possible: if it"s too long it may not be read − avoid repetition.
  2. STICK TO FACTS : don"t embellish, lie, deliberately leave things out and beware of using hyperbole.
  3. BULLETS and BOLD highlight key points − avoid anything fancy. White space is important.
  4. DOUBLE CHECK: facts, spelling, dates, tenses.
  5. Always re-write when you update for another job; never just add on!

Find out more from Helix Recruitment

CVs and Covering Letters

Share this article:

Helix Recruitment