A few tips for CVs/résumés

There are some common themes in the feedback that I provide to clients when proofreading CVs. This isn’t a comprehensive guide but it might give you a few things to consider:

  • In the UK, age discrimination laws mean that you do not have to include your date of birth (I have worked with recruiters who would actively conceal dates on CVs in order to comply with anti-discrimination rules within their organisations). You also don’t need to include your marital status, physical attributes (unless you’re applying for a job where this is relevant) or a photo (again, unless this is relevant).
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Also check for typos – are you reading what you have written or what you think you have written?
  • Try not to use more than 2 pages. I used to hear stories of CVs being binned immediately if they were longer than this. However, if you are applying for a role that demands more detail (such as a medical position), a 3-page CV is acceptable. Think carefully about how appropriate the content is for the job that you are applying for. Condense information where you can.
  • Choose a style and stick to it. Don’t write a list of responsibilities in a paragraph for one job and then use a bullet point list for another. Don’t start writing in the first person and then suddenly change to third.* Keep your titles and headings consistent.
  • If you have recently updated your CV with a new role, make sure that the previous one is now written in the correct tense i.e. past.
  • Avoid unnecessary or inconsistent capitalisation.
  • Make sure that you have given the full term when you first use an acronym or abbreviation (unless you are confident that it is well known or that the industry that you are applying to will understand it).
  • Make sure that you have used apostrophes correctly.

The most important advice I can give is to take your time and to read what you have written carefully. If you can, get someone else to have a look at your CV and give you some feedback on it.

*Don’t do this at all. Seriously. Writing about yourself in the third person is weird.


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