- Start your CV with your name, and make it bigger than anything else on your CV. Next comes your contact details including your mobile number and email address. What you don’t want to include is a photo of yourself – in some countries it’s a legal requirement, but not in the UK.
- Each section of your CV runs in reverse chronological order starting with the course or job you’re doing at the moment, but don’t live in the past – what you’re doing at Exeter is (usually) more important than what you did at school.
- Be proud of your achievements and qualifications, employers love students with passion and drive, but…
- …don’t make the section on your A-Levels and GCSEs (pre-university qualifications) longer than the section about your course at Exeter. Employers aren’t looking for lists; they want to see what relevant modules you’re taking and what relevant skills you’re gaining.
- Triple check your spelling and grammar. Triple check your spelling and grammar. Triple check your spelling and grammar.
- Hobbies and interests are a brilliant way to tell the employer more about you as a person, and about any other skills you can bring to the job. So tell us how your cupcake baking is helping you develop your creativity. But think about what you want to include; being a member of the Pole Dance Society might be fun, but it’s not right for your law internship application.
- Your CV should be either 1 or 2 sides of A4. 1 ½ looks like you’ve run out of things to say, and even Lord Sugar wouldn’t have 3 pages. Try expanding or editing your info so it’s a good fit.
- Turning up to work on time is nothing to brag about. Everyone is expected to get to work when they’re needed, so swap ‘I am reliable and punctual’ for ‘gained excellent time management skills working in a fast paced retail environment.’
- Running your own eBay, Etsy or other online shop looks great on your CV – who wouldn’t want an entrepreneur working for them?
- Your CV is all about selling your skills and experience, but keep it relevant to what the employer is looking for. Do they want ‘team players with excellent customer service skills and great communication’? Think about how and where on your CV you’re going to show them you’re that person.
- Don’t be funny. Yes, you want a CV that stands out from the crowd, but using humour is a big no-no. You don’t know who’s going to read your CV and you don’t know what kind of mood they’ll be in at the time, so keep everything professional.
- Don’t overstate or understate your language abilities. If you can order a beer and loaf of bread you’re not ‘fluent’. Even if it’s malted granary poppy seed roasted onion and chive bread.
- Work experience doesn’t have to be paid – it’s what you’ve done and what you’ve gained from doing it that employers are looking for. Great unpaid or voluntary experience equals great work experience.
- And finally, repeat after me – ‘The most relevant, most brilliant and most exciting stuff goes on the first page of my CV.’ Because you don’t want to hide your best bits, do you?
For more help and advice we run CV skills sessions and individual CV appointments all year – you can book both through My Career Zone.
*not actually related to Christmas in any way.
Jenny Scarr, Career Zone Information Officer
University of Exeter