Top Tips for Writing an Outstanding CV

When it comes to looking for a job, a great CV is a necessity. Get it right and you will land an interview in no time, however, get it wrong and it will be difficult to score an interview.

This guide will provide top tips for writing an outstanding CV for 2018 and beyond.

What is a CV?

A CV, short for curriculum vitae, is a personal marketing tool which can be used to sell yourself to prospective employers. It should include information about you such as your professional and educational skills, history, achievements and goals. The ultimate aim for your CV is to argue why you are best suited for the position you are applying for.

What to include in your CV in 2018

Although every CV is different and the structure and layout can be flexible, there are certain subjects that must be included regardless.

These are:

1. Name, professional title and contact information. The first thing to include in your CV, positioned at the top of the page is your name, professional title and contact information. You should not include ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top as it is just a waste of space. When including contact details, ensure to provide your email address and telephone number(s) for them to reach you by.

Here is an example of how your name, professional title and contact information might look on your CV:

Forename Surname | Professional Title

Location: City, Country

Phone: 0123456789



Make sure that your email address sounds professional! Do not include an email address such as If you do not have a professional email address, create one! Read these tips for choosing the best provider.

2. Personal Statement. A personal statement, also known as professional profile or career objective, is a very important part of your CV. It is a short paragraph which summarises who you are and what you want to achieve.

Your personal statement should be tailored to every individual job you apply for and should highlight qualities that match you to the role description.  Keep it brief! Do not make your personal statement longer than a few sentences. Less is more! You should include the following:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What can you offer the company?
  3. What are your professional goals?

For more pointers on how to write a great personal statement, check out this comprehensive guide.

3. Employment History. This section allows you to summarise your previous jobs, work experience and internships. These should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent roles first. This section should be uniform with each different position and should include the job title, the employer and the dates that you worked. Then include bullet points with your responsibilities, achievements and skills. Use powerful verbs to showcase the impact you had in this position.

Choose the responsibilities and skills most relevant to the job you’re applying for. This is especially true with a long list of duties. If you have many different roles and years of experience, eliminate the roles that are not relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Here is an example on how your employment history should look on your CV:

COMPANY, LOCATION                          MM YYYY – MM YYYY


4. Education History and Qualifications. Similar to your job experience section, this section should be listed in reverse chronological order with the institution you attended, the dates you attended/graduated and the grade you received. Also include any relevant modules to the position you applied for, extracurricular activities and the title of your dissertation. This section should be uniform with the same layout as the employment history section.

Here in an example on how your education history and qualifications section should look on your CV:

institution, location                  MM YYYY – MM YYYY
Course title
Grade (received or expected): xxxx
Key Modules
Dissertation title: xxxxxx
Extracurricular activities:

5. Additional Information. The final section of your CV should include any skills, qualifications or interests that you have not highlighted in any of the above sections that would grab the attention of the employer. This may include language ability, presentation and public speaking skills, leadership experience, etc. Do not include hobbies such as reading or cooking as they are not likely to boost your CV.  Limit this section to four our five bullet points.

Formatting Guidelines

Now that you know what to include in your CV, it is important to be aware of how to effectively structure it.

Here are some formatting and spacing tips to keep in mind:

1. Length. With CVs, less is more. You want to be able to make an impression whilst using the least amount of space possible. Try to make your CV one page in length. It is more likely to be read in full by prospective employers. Only include the most relevant and impressive information!

2. Headings. Ensure to label each section with a bold heading to make it easier to read.

3. Font. In order for your CV to look professional and easy to read, choose a font such as Calibri or Arial to appeal to the reader. While you can use other fonts, keep in mind that it should look professional.

4. Font size and margins. Your CV should be between 10 and 12 point font with margins no smaller than 2.5 cm. Too small of margins and print make your CV appear cluttered and difficult to read. White space provides clarity.

5. Proofread! Before saving your CV to be sent out to the world, make sure to read over it multiple times checking for consistency in formatting, language (past vs. present tense), accuracy of information, etc. Have somebody else look over your CV as well as it is always great to get a second opinion. Grammarly is a great tool to check grammar, spelling and punctuation online for free!

6. Saving the file. While it can be handy to save your CV as a hard copy to hand out, the world of job hunting is more digital nowadays. When saving your CV, make sure to save it as a pdf file. This will allow prospective employers to open it on any device and it will also keep the format that you have worked so hard on perfecting!

What not to include in your CV in 2018

Here is a list of things you should not include in your CV:

1. A headshot. While many people believe it is common practice to include a headshot in their CV, it actually is not. A photo of yourself takes away from the skills and achievements which matter and also takes up space that could be used to improve your chances.

2. Your age and date of birth. The only dates you should include on your CV are your dates of employment and education. Your age has no bearing on your ability to do the job and it is illegal to ask by employers in many countries.

3. Other personal information. Do not include your marital status, sexuality, religion, political stance or any other overly personal information. None of these variables limit your ability to perform well in a job and, like your age and date of birth, are illegal to ask for by employers in many countries.

Now what?

Now that you know how to write an outstanding CV, get writing and applying!

For templates of CVs that can land you a job in 2018 and beyond, follow this link.

Good luck and happy job hunting!





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