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Tips for how to write a perfect CV

How to write a perfect CV

JAM’s Dan Kirkpatrick explains how to write a great CV…

Writing a great CV can be quite a difficult task. One person’s perfect CV may be less then perfect to somebody else. There are however a number of important things that you must take into account when writing your CV, which will help ensure your CV is as near perfect to as many people as possible.

Remember that your CV is often the first thing a potential employer will see and it’s important that you make a positive impression. A negative impression at CV stage may not stop you getting an interview but will mean you have more work to do during the interview. A number of skills in the defence sector are scarce in recruitment terms but don’t think that because of that, you can make less of an effort with your CV! What will a future employer think if your CV is littered with spelling mistakes, is formatted poorly or contains incorrect information?

Do…
• Keep it clear: use Arial or Times New Roman fonts at size 10 or 12
• Keep it concise: 2 to 3 pages ideally
• Keep it simple and accurate: double check all grammar and spelling. Get a friend or colleague (or a consultant at JAM) to read it through.
• Use headers to help each individual section stand out: use bold or underline
• Use bullet points rather than block text: it’s much neater and easier to read
• Include your name and contact details: you’d be surprised how many people forget to include their phone number

Don’t…
• Call it “Curriculum Vitae” or CV: just use your name as the title
• Insert your photo
• Include any graphics
• Add borders (tables can be included if they appear suitable and tidy)
• Make the CV multicoloured: keep all type black

A good CV should include the following parts in this order:
• Contact details
• Profile, ideally tailored for each role
• Key skills
• Key achievements
• Career history – starting with most recent role
• Education / Training – put this above career history if you’re a recent graduate, and only include relevant training.
• Other skills – e.g. IT, driving licence, languages etc
• Interests (optional)
• References (optional)

Don’t rely on spell-checkers. They can ruin an otherwise well-prepared CV and if you don’t read through your finished CV before you send it off, you may be in for a surprise in your interview when your potential employer picks you up on your mistakes. That’s if you get that far.

Past CV ‘bloopers’ have included:

• “I am a prefectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
• “Proven ability to track down and correct erors.”
• “I have good writen comunication skills.”
• “Lurnt Word Perfect computor and spreadsheet pogroms.”
• “Extra Circular Activities”
• “At secondary school I was a prefi x”
• “In my spare time I enjoy hiding my horse”
• “I hope to hear from you shorty”
• “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave”
• “Dear Madman” (instead of Madam)
• “In charge of sock control” (instead of stock control)
• “Instrumental in ruining an entire operation for a chain operator”
• On an application to work with teenagers: “I am experienced in teaching marital arts.”
• “My role included typing in details of accounts, customer liaison and money-laundering duties.”

For information on how to write a good cover letter please see here.

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