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BlackHawk
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Seeing as there are so many threads on this, I though it best to have all advice in one place. Post your CVs here for a critique, or just post general helpful advice for those in the process or making or updating a CV.


Tips For CV Writing by Good Bloke:

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...postcount=1273

As an interim measure, here is my first draft of a contribution to TSR's forthcoming career advice section. If you expect to get advice about improving your CV you will need to demonstate that you have followed the initial advice given here (as far as I am concerned).

Tips for writing a CV

These tips apply to general CV writing. In a few very specialised cases (the performing arts or modelling, for example) they may not apply entirely. But you won’t go far wrong in following them as a starting point.

Occasionally, an employer will give specific directions which will contradict this advice. In cases like this you must always do exactly what the employer requests or risk being overlooked. Remember, if you demonstrate that you can’t follow simple instructions you are likely to be marked down immediately and, possibly, irreparably.

What format should I use?

It is important to realise that a CV is an exercise in selling yourself in a highly constrained and abbreviated format. Write one that is too long, or in the wrong format, and you run a serious risk of it being binned without a reading. It is not a document for the verbose or for the essay writer. Rather like poetry and script writing, condensation is all-important. Include only what is relevant and positive. A CV is not anything like a UCAS personal statement, so don’t start off by cannibalising one. A resumé (which is shorter) is not generally used in the UK for job applications.

Order and content

You won’t go far wrong if you include the content detailed here in the order outlined below. The key is to give the most relevant information first, and follow on with less important information, or information that will be used later by the reader.

1. Your name (typically centred in larger letters as a heading)
2. Telephone number(s) and email address (on the next line under your name) - the employer will, you hope, need to find this easily and quickly
3. A profile of you as a potential employee, drawing out your best assets (usually factually, in bullet points or short sentences)
4. Your education history from secondary school onwards, including your major qualifications, most recent at the top
5. Your employment history, in reverse chronological order, outlining:
a. Employer’s name
b. The job you did
c. The dates
d. Your responsibilities
e. Your achievements
6. Personal details, including:
a. Professional qualifications
b. Relevant post-education training received
c. Other relevant facts (such as the possession of a full, clean driving licence, language skills, generic IT skills)
d. Your postal address (on one line)

Each of the sections (profile, education, employment history, personal details) should have a heading. Numbers 4 and 5 (education and employment history) should normally be reversed once you have some post-education work experience – remember, the most important information should come earlier and this can change as you go through your career. Later on your, as your career progresses (though not in academia, of course) education can even be condensed to a single line in the personal details section. At this stage much of your early career might be condensed very considerably as it is no longer very relevant to what you will be applying for.

It is important to ensure that you review a standard CV each time you send it out to make sure it is still correct, reflects the current situation and that all the information is relevant to the job for which you are applying. Remember, it is not necessarily important to include everything for every application.
Notice specifically what should not be included:

1. The words or heading curriculum vitae – it is obvious what the document is, so don’t waste the space
2. Your address at the top of the page – it is not necessary, and is a distraction if you place it there
3. Any mention of references – they are not needed at this stage and the employer will ask for them when they are required
4. Anything more than a line or two about your interests and hobbies, unless you know that it will be especially relevant. If you are short of space this should be the first information to be taken out entirely
5. Repetition of any information – this is both unnecessary and irritating to the reader
6. Headers, footers and page numbers (or any other extraneous information such as document names or version numbers)
7. Page borders, title pages, binders, covers
8. Reasons for leaving previous jobs
9. Salary information
10. Irrelevant information
11. Negative information
12. Photographs
And don’t forget, this document is all about what you have already done, not what you are predicted to do or hope to do in the future. Such matters should be reserved for the covering letter.

Format

Follow generally-accepted typographical conventions:
1. Use a serif font for body text and, perhaps, a sans serif font for headings
2. Do not underline headings (or anything else) – use bold text or a different font size for headings

As a school leaver or recent graduate, keep the CV to a single side of A4. Treat this as an absolute rule. In mid-career you would be able to use a second sheet. When you become an old lag (i.e. a highly experienced senior executive), with decades of experience and expertise to offer, you may permit yourself the indulgence of a third side.

Because space is so tight, you will sometimes have to place several pieces of information on one line (for example, company name, job title, dates), separated by tabs. This may offend your sense of what looks good, but don’t worry about it – it is entirely conventional and makes good use of space.

Do not use esoteric fonts (such as script fonts or Comic Sans), coloured text, boxes of any kind, tables (even those that do not have borders around them), drawn lines, borders or any other fancy embellishments. Just don’t – they are distracting, can ruin the layout, and many readers will find them irritating. The last thing you want to do is irritate the reader.

Make sure there are no spelling mistakes, colloquialisms, grammatical errors or punctuation errors. Don’t rely on your word processor’s spelling checker to spot these – get the document checked by someone you can trust. Do not fall into the common trap of capitalising common nouns such as subject names. Make sure that your columns and tabs are all aligned as you intend.

Don’t tell any lies. After you are employed you can be fired if the employer finds out that you have lied on your CV. And being caught out in a lie at the interview is likely to be fatal to your chances. You’d be surprised how many recruiters personally know the man you are claiming to have worked for previously – it is a very small world in recruiting. And many are not averse to ringing these contacts for an impromptu discussion about a candidate. In any event, most employers will formally follow up references in writing.

Make sure there is a reasonable amount of white space on the document. This makes it easier to read – and you do want it to be easy to read and understand, don’t you?

If you are sending or delivering your CV in hard copy format, use a good quality paper rather than ordinary photocopy paper, though avoid card or coloured or embossed paper.

Style

Make strong, brief, condensed statements (excluding personal pronouns) such as “Successfully implemented a system to blah blah…” in preference to “I successfully blah blah…”.

Do not make unsupported statements (such as “I can/am able to blah blah” or “I have blah blah”). It is much better to demonstrate what you can do by outlining where you have previously done it (and with what success).

Use strong, active verbs such as “implemented”, “achieved”, “planned”, “initiated”, “developed”, “launched”, “improved” where relevant – avoid the wishy-washy. You must, however, back up your claims with events or numbers.

Do not write essays. There should be no paragraphs or mini-essays at all.

Avoid industry jargon unless you know the reader can understand it.

Avoid a naïve style of writing – you are trying to impress in the world of adult work and the phraseology should reflect this.



Tips for writing a covering letter

This advice applies to the situation in almost any industry. However, there are a few specialist situations in which the case might be different (the performing arts spring immediately to mind), in which case you should take specialist advice from within that industry.

Never send a CV without a covering letter.

Tell the reader that you are writing to apply for a job, not that you are interested in applying. And be specific – do you want a summer internship, a permanent position, a vacation job, a contract position, or are you enquiring about future employment possibilities?

State that you are enclosing (or attaching, if it is an email) your CV.

Make a point of mentioning how you learned of the opportunity – mention the advertisement (including the name of the website or publication), agency or whatever, including any reference number.

It might also be appropriate to mention the name of anyone who suggested that you write a speculative letter.

The main task of the covering letter is to entice the reader into looking at your CV before they throw it in the bin. It is the first document that will be read, in all likelihood, and it must, therefore be very well written and tailored specifically for that employer and opportunity.

It should be obvious that it must be flawless in terms of spelling and grammar, and should be written in an easy-to-read mature style. Avoid buzzwords and convoluted or clever-sounding words and phrasing.

Always highlight what it is about you and your background - education, skills, experience - that is relevant to the position you are seeking. Again, be specific and use examples to demonstrate what you are claiming. You might expand on something in your CV here.

Always make sure that you provide (and/or refer to) any information that has been specifically requested and is not appropriate to include in the CV. This might include your availability for interview (which should always be mentioned in any event), or an enclosed sample of your work. In general it is not appropriate to include anything that has not been requested, and do not expect to receive back anything that you do send.

Always state that you can be contacted (and how) in the event there are any queries with the information you have provided.

The whole letter should be brief – never more than a single side of A4 paper – and 300 words is a good guideline to aim for.

Always try and write to a specific individual, and style the letter appropriately and conventionally.

Do not include (unless specifically requested):

  • Your age or date of birth
  • Your current salary
  • Your salary expectations
  • Any mention of references
  • A photograph
  • Any amusing anecdotes


If you are asking here for advice about a covering letter, please tell us what you have been asked to include. Better still, post the link to the job advertisement so that we can see the full context.
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-sarah-
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Did my CV in Year 10 and have just been adding stuff to it as I went so I'm not sure its the right format and its just looking a bit old, even though I did have a play with it yesterday. i looked at some other example CVs but i'm still not really sure what I should be writing!!

i'm applying for bar work, retail work and admin (since temp jobs are so impossible to find!) if that makes any difference?!

Would really appreciate any advice!
thanks, Sarah
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black_mamba
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sarah - the green colour and font used for your name doesn't look too professional, and nor do the subheadings. Bold works on its own without italic and underlining. :p:

Interests section could be reformatted to bullet points to make it easier to quick-read.

If I were you, I'd reformat and reword* the work experience section as you obviously have some good experience under your belt, but I didn't feel as if it was being used as effectively as it could be.



*I never give rewording advice as it tends to be very difficult to suggest things like that online, plus I'd rather the person go look at a '1000 great CVs' book to get some ideas about how to focus on your skills and achievements rather than just listing what you had to do...
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BlackHawk
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I agree with black mumba, but also the font you used for your headings (Interests, experience, etc) should be Times New Roman like the rest of your CV. The whole thing hsould be unified. If you want it to stand out that's what bold, underline and italics are for.

Also, you previous experience should at least go before interests, if not before education. I always prefer to see a CV like this:

Work Experience

Education

Interests

References

As work experience is the most relevant if you're applying for a job.
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black_mamba
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(Original post by BlackHawk)
I always prefer to see a CV like this:

Work Experience

Education

Interests

References
*nods* I use that sequence for my casual CV (for retail jobs for example) but only put my education first on my CV for professional graduate work. The experience is the bit the employer will probably be most interested in, so why not let it be the first thing they read?
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Vincent_Valentine
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Can people please criticise this CV. Give me any advise you have.
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black_mamba
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Need more details of your work experience, what you did, achieved etc. And the little blurb at the top seems to be covering letter material, although a more succinct version of that can appear as a little summary of yourself at the start. I'd shorten it, and if you still want the elongated version stick it onto a covering letter.
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Vincent_Valentine
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Thank you very much!!!
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Vincent_Valentine
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I cant remember what role I did when I was working at those two places. Any body any hints that could fit into a general duty job
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BlackHawk
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Your role was what job you did, what you were employed as. Surely you can remember that?
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-sarah-
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(Original post by black_mamba)
*nods* I use that sequence for my casual CV (for retail jobs for example) but only put my education first on my CV for professional graduate work. The experience is the bit the employer will probably be most interested in, so why not let it be the first thing they read?
thanks for both of your help
the font thing does look better being all times new roman, does having the name in colour make a big difference?! i changed it from pink (how its been for the last 5years!), it looks so so boring without any colour at all on it!
i've also changed it to the layout you suggested with experience first, and reversed the order of everything so most recent stuff appears first in each section. any other suggestions?
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black_mamba
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(Original post by -sarah-)
does having the name in colour make a big difference?! i changed it from pink (how its been for the last 5years!), it looks so so boring without any colour at all on it!
Hehe! Well if its all black it looks ... well, standard, which is what you want. Don't do anything on your CV that'll make the employer or evil HR peeps () raise an eyebrow! At the very worst, pink text screams 'immature' which is definitely not what you want on a CV. I guess if it was a fairly darkish colour it may have looked a little more professional than pastel pink, but even then a lot of people have advised me that more than one colour on a CV looks messy. Hmpf, confusing this lark huh? :rolleyes:
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(Original post by black_mamba)
Hehe! Well if its all black it looks ... well, standard, which is what you want. Don't do anything on your CV that'll make the employer or evil HR peeps () raise an eyebrow! At the very worst, pink text screams 'immature' which is definitely not what you want on a CV. I guess if it was a fairly darkish colour it may have looked a little more professional than pastel pink, but even then a lot of people have advised me that more than one colour on a CV looks messy. Hmpf, confusing this lark huh? :rolleyes:
it was more of a hot pink! somehow managed to get offered 3 retail jobs with it like that too! surely they appreciate something more colourful when they have a bunch of cvs to look through, esp since none of the jobs i'm applying for are particularly formal.
luckily the blue on my printer has run out so its going to be more of a dark purple anyway, hopefully they'll be able to live with that, does look more professional than the pink!
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black_mamba
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Oh I don't know about how to target retailers, they're a fickle bunch! :p: If you like it and it works for you, I say go for it. You don't always have to follow the 'rules'.
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Jackadsa
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Hey there TSR peeps! This is my first post here, but ive been lurking around for a little while.

I'd like some feedback on my CV, to see if theres anywhere that needs improving. It's not tailored to anything specific yet (hence the ...'s), though i suppose i'd like to try and get a part time office-type job (if any are available!).
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black_mamba
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Again, lots of unused space that could be used to spread out the text, Jackadsa. Bold up the subheadings because they don't stand out at the moment, and make sure its easy to spot your job title in your work experience (perhaps put it before the dates you worked, for example). For education & qualifications just state 'education'.
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Paula
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Hey guys,
this is my CV at the moment, I've used it to apply for a few Sales assistant things have had one interview but wasn't successful. I think that I know where Im going wrong but I'd appreciate some views from other people
Thanks
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Montrose
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(Original post by Paula)
Hey guys,
this is my CV at the moment, I've used it to apply for a few Sales assistant things have had one interview but wasn't successful. I think that I know where Im going wrong but I'd appreciate some views from other people
Thanks
Okay, bear in mind I am seeing it in Wordpad cause I don't have Word, so some of the visual things I point out may actually be okay, so ignore me if my comp shows things differently to you!

LAYOUT
It's very bland. Make the title in a larger font. I would also just put your name at the top, so Paula McInally - CV. In the main body, the only sections that should be the bold are the headers, not the main text. All your grades should be aligned so they run in a straight line (to me, English Language, Science and History grades are way to the left.

Your last paragraph before the end ('I have skills and qualities'), I would put at the top before qualifications, under the header 'Personal Objective'. I would get rid of the phrase 'I have the skills and qualities suited to customer service' as you cover that later on. Simply put in the objective paragraph what your aim is at this moment in time (something like "take my first steps in retail and develop myself into a good sales assistant"). Keep it short and sweet, so they know straight from the start what you want.

Double check your grammar. For example, "I work as a member of team in order to" does not make sense and gives a bad impression. Also, for a part time customer service job, I would delete the paragraph on hobbies and interests, as it holds no value.

Don't take what I say as gospel though. However, I used to work as a recruiter, and that would be my advice.
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puppy
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(Original post by Paula)
Hey guys,
this is my CV at the moment, I've used it to apply for a few Sales assistant things have had one interview but wasn't successful. I think that I know where Im going wrong but I'd appreciate some views from other people
Thanks
You don't need 'yours faithfully' at the end, it's not a letter.

Formatting wise it's often a good idea to space things out to it's clear what belong to what i.e. have a smaller gap between a subheading and its following paragraph than the gap between the previous paragraph and the next heading so that it's clear that the title belongs to the paragraph.
puppy
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(Original post by tuppatopbrer)
Hi, here is my CV, I would be very grateful for any suggestions on any improvements, changes etc etc Thank you!
1) Get rid of the health bit at the top, it's sounds insulting and is a totally unecessary piece of information. Likewise I doubt anyone needs to know your birthplace, you just need your DOB, nationality, marital status and if you have a full, clean driving license then it's worth adding that too.

2) I'd reword most of the personal statement section as it doesn't seem to mean anything and also makes wild, unsupported claims about your abilities. It's very subjective and self-promoting (not in a good way).

3) Qualifications section is fine

4) Skills section could be cut down a lot. Again it makes unsupported claims. This is the kind of thing that will be dependent on the job you're applying for as you can gear all this stuff towards it. Definately don't use the word 'synthesise'. I think 'computer literate' and 'working knowledge of French' are the only things worth putting in as the other can either be infered from your grades or work experience or are largely unsubstantiated.

5) Work experience section could do with rewording; in a few places it sounds liek you've tried to make something sound more complicated than it actually is when it'd have been no less valuable to write it in plain English and it would have made the whole thing sound better written. There's no real need to write in full sentences either, would sound 'snappier' in more of a note form.

6) A lot of your awards sound like rather minor things to put on your CV and I'd recommend cutting them down so it doesn't read like a list of everything you've achieved since you were out of nappies. Try to stick to things that are actually relevant to what you're applying for and steer away from anything that doesn't really demonstrate any relevant skills. It's good to have a few things (like in your activities) that demonstrate a good work/life balance but you don't need to go too nuts.

7) Layout wouldn't be my choice but I doubt it'll do you any harm, seems clear enough and not too fussy.
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