CVs – Top 5 Tips

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Sometimes it is difficult to see what is lacking in our own CVs when we are writing them.

We all know our own career histories well: our experience and why we would be perfect for that role in our dream organisation… but does our CV really demonstrate all that?

Recently I was asked to check some CV’s of newly graduated teachers, who were applying for their first permanent roles.

Listed briefly below, are my Top 5 Tips for reviewing your CV:

  1. Highlight that you are the right person for the job
  • What type of job are you applying for? Is it relevant to your experience or recent qualifications/training?
  • If not, how will you ensure your CV shows you could do this job?
  • Do you have transferable skills from volunteer placements, life experience or other jobs that show you could adequately do this role?
  • You may want to write a different style of CV if this is the case? A template highlighting: Skills, Knowledge & Experience/ Qualifications rather than a traditional chronological list of workplaces & dates. This is a particularly good CV format if you are returning to work after a long period of time.


2. Ensure your CV ‘ticks all the boxes’

What is the recruiter actually looking for? (not ‘War & Peace’ fitted into two pages)

  • Take the job advertisement & highlight what they have said are the ‘essential’ and any ‘desirable’ requirements
  • Highlight what are the required: ‘Skills’, ‘Experience’ & ‘Qualifications’
  • Also think about what ‘Behaviours’ they require? For example, have they said that the hours are not standard? If so, the need to demonstrate ‘flexibility’ will be key
  • Adding a profile section ensures that you can showcase your personality (behaviours). An area often forgotten about in the struggle to focus on highlighting skills, knowledge & qualifications


3. Personalise your CV to the profession, industry or sector

Is your CV too generic? Does it shout that you are a professional or have expertise in a specific area/sector?

If not, tailor it – one size does not fit all! (having more than one CV is common, depending on the types of role you are applying for)

  • Go through your CV and highlight the key facts that match the recruiter’s need (ie management skills, public sector experience or professional qualification)
  • Do you need to write a specific CV? ie: General management skills; Specific profession; or Industry/Sector CV


4. Make sure it is Clear, Concise & Correct

Is the information clear? Make sure the key facts jump out from the page – 1st impressions count

  • Use short sentences with descriptive language
  • Take out waffle & additional material that is not relevant
  • Always be factual – you will get caught out in an interview if you fib
  • Make sure your words are concise, descriptive and highlight key areas required


5. Ensure your CV has the ‘Pick me up & read me’ factor. Make it attractive. 

Think about the aesthetics of your CV. It is no good having a CV that is the perfect showcase for your experience, but looks boring or is full of typing mistakes. CVs are usually scanned before they are passed on to the person recruiting & often rejected if they contain errors.

  • Make sure you have clear headings, laid out logically – these guide the reader through the document
  • Use bullet points, text boxes & spacing to emphasise what is written
  • Ensure priority information is at the top, not hidden at the end
  • Use colour and bold to attract the reader’s attention – but don’t overuse
  • Check your CV for typos and spelling mistakes, then …
  • Ask someone else to give it an additional proofread to ensure the above

Good luck! 

If you have any questions, please contact us at or if you would like us to take a look at your CV, please contact us for details of our service.


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