How To Write A Good CV

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Your curriculum vitae (CV) is the key that unlocks the door to an interview. It should contain the information required to achieve that goal, and no more! It is not an autobiography.

Employers will make snap judgements as to whether to interview you or not, based on the appearance of the CV as well as the content.

Whilst in rare circumstances it may be appropriate to express your amazing personality by producing a very different-looking CV (to 'stand out from the crowd'), the vast majority of employers are looking for a succinct, clear record of your skills and experience.


  1. Always type the CV on good quality paper.

  2. Never use more than two pages: employers are easily bored!

  3. Don't write the words Curriculum Vitae at the top: it's perfectly obvious what it is.

  4. Don't preface the CV with a descriptive statement ('A well-educated enthusiast who will undoubtedly make his mark in international commerce'). Let the facts speak for themselves, and the employer be the judge of your capabilities.

  5. Use this Format:

    • Name (bold type)

    • Personal details including date of birth, address and telephone number, marital status, nationality

    • Qualifications

    • Career history (in reverse order, most recent position first)

    • Leisure interests

    • Referees

  6. Ensure all dates link up; leave no suspicious gaps. If you were out of work for a period, or travelling, include it as a stage in your history.

  7. Write employer's name and location in bold type. Employers often select for interview by identifying with companies that are known to them.

  8. Use your last title in each position, also in bold type.

  9. Briefly describe the company's business and size, in italics.

  10. Write no more than a few lines about the job content and responsibilities. If appropriate, show how you progressed from one position to the next. Mention specific numbers if possible ('In charge of 3 staff, 'sold 30 machines, worth £100,000 each'). Highlight one or two achievements after every job.

  11. Under leisure interests, demonstrate breadth of character by mentioning varied interests, energy with sporting interests. Don't fabricate interests as you may well be quizzed on them, particularly if the interviewer shares those interests. Don't worry the employer by listing contentious interests (shooting, foxhunting). Keep the list short: one artistic, one sporting and one unusual interest. Don't put 'socialising' which is taken as drinking!

  12. Only list referees if they have said they would speak for you. With their permission, give their telephone numbers so that employers feel encouraged to make contact with them.

  13. Ensure all spelling is correct. Don't trust computer spell-checkers.

  14. Distribute your CV to the top recruiters in your industry. If you are in the science or clinical research market you should just send your CV to Seltek (register here). If you are not in science or clinical research you might like to visit CVtrumpet.

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