Recruitment specialists since 1980

Monday Jun 13

Need to update or revise your CV? Woodland gives you the lowdown on good CV practice!


A Curriculum Vitae outlines a person’s education and professional history, and is usually prepared for job applications.


It is of paramount importance that a CV contains your most relevant information. But it is also equally important to make sure all the right information is chopped up into easily digestible chunks in order to give it a clear and logical layout. Bear in mind that recruiters and potential employers will get sent through a high volume of CVs for an advertised position. If your CV is difficult to read due to a poor layout, with pointless information presented, it may fail to make the cut.


So what should you include in your CV, and what should you leave out? There is not a model template, and depending on the industry you are looking for work in, certain parts of your CV may need to be emphasised, i.e. work experience, but overall you want a recruiter to comprehend it quickly, ideally within a couple of pages if possible.


Woodland has some top tips on what should generally be included in an exceptional CV to help an employer hire you:


What to include


Contact Details: What may seem obvious to some is not always apparent in the minds of others. A lot of people do forget to include their name, address, mobile phone number and email address. Ensure that these details are clearly presented at the top of your CV.


Personal Statement: This is not compulsory, however many people include a personal statement in a CV, in order to personalise a CV more towards the position applied for. Ensure you keep this section clear and concise. 200 words is a perfect length for this. Also, articulate your future career goals.


Education: Make a list and date all previous education, putting the most recent at the top of this list. Also include professional qualifications and any training undertaken, either independently or during previous points of employment.


Work Experience: A list which includes previous job roles, any voluntary positions or internships. History of work experience should be presented in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent position. In terms of presentation, be sure to include your job title, duration of the role, the name of the company, and your responsibilities.


Skills/Achievements: A breakdown of some specific skills you have accumulated in your working life, which you feel you can transfer over to the roles you are applying for. E.g. confident presentation technique, high levels of organisation, or exceptional communication skills.


Hobbies and Interests: Again, optional. Best to include this if you feel it is relevant to the position. You are wasting CV space when mentioning that you enjoy playing chess or riding a bike. However, the right words could catch an employer’s eye, persuading them to look again through your experience and skills. Also, try and be as genuine as possible. Stating your love for Shakespeare in a bid to sound more cultured could backfire if your interview is a massive Othello fan. Resist the temptation to lie


What to leave out


The title "Curriculum Vitae/CV": Not really required as a recruiter does know what it is. Your CV speaks for itself and doesn’t require a title to describe it.


Bad Grammar: More than 50% of recruiters cite poor spelling and grammar as a key reason as to why they reject applications. In fact, if a recruiter has to make a tough decision over two equally adept candidates, bad grammar could be the only reason why your competition is desired more. Always proof-read, and get a second set of eyes to look over for mistakes. Spellchecking on Microsoft Word is not enough.  


Do not include references unless requested: It is a standard procedure for employers to ask for references, which is normally towards the end of the interview process. Putting “references are available upon request” is not needed as it is highly doubtful that one would refuse to give references, so why clarify this in your CV?


Headshot: Unless you are in the entertainment world, you should avoid including a picture of yourself, or a physical description in your CV. There is absolutely no need to attach a picture, until the recruiter has considered your application based solely on your qualifications.


Extravagant fonts and coloursArial, Times New Roman, Cambria are the types of fonts that are easy to read, and easy to store in an employer’s database. Also keep it simple by sticking with black as a font colour.


Cliché Phrases:  Avoid generic CV phrases like “good team player” and “thinks outside of the box.” You can add value to your CV by using adjectives and active verbs to replace passive verbs and nouns to help substantiate your career exploits. Opting to include common phrases will not set you ahead of the chasing pack. Be individual and unique within reason.


Messy Structure: Do not overlook the importance of presentation. You may have all the key ingredients, including the right language to persuade an employer into interviewing you, but poor presentation will switch them off. Keep it clearly laid out in logical order or risk coming across as unprofessional.


We hope that you found our tips useful! If you are still at odds with constructing your CV, or would like to get some feedback on your current one, Woodland offers a bespoke CV Writing service. Call Suzanne now on 020 8905 2250 to discuss further.

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