Your CV more often than not, is the first impression that you’ll make on a potential employer. Here’s how to present your CV clearly and professionally.

It is worth remembering that each recruiter’s idea of a ‘perfect’ CV will be slightly different. Nonetheless, your CV will in most cases, be the first impression an employer has of you. At worst, a poorly constructed CV can give a potential employer a negative impression of you as a candidate and bar you from securing that all important interview.

Taking a little time on construction and wording and using the following guidelines to write and submit your CV, should ensure you promote yourself to your best advantage.

CV structure

Start with your personal details. Include full name and contact details along with all usable telephone numbers and an email address. Avoid superfluous details such as religious affiliation, children’s names etc.

For certain roles you may wish to include details of any social media accounts you hold, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This can be a good way to showcase portfolios of previous work or demonstrate relevant skills you hold, for example, in social media. It is vital however, that you make sure your social media accounts are suitable for the eyes of a potential employer. Think about your privacy settings and how your profile picture portrays you. It has become common practise for recruiters and potential employers to check applicants on social media before offering positions. You don’t want to have a social media profile that may damage your chances of getting the job!

After your personal details include a personal statement to help you stand out. A personal statement is a brief summary of who you are, what you can offer and what you’re aiming for in your career. It should be no longer than four or five lines. For example:

An enthusiastic and motivated individual with over 5 years experience in administration. Looking to move into a customer services role, I am experienced in dealing with clients and customers on the telephone and am friendly and professional at all times. I am organised, enjoy solving problems and quick to learn new skills.

Next include you career history. The most widely accepted style of employment record is the chronological CV. Career history is presented in reverse date order starting with the most recent. Achievements and responsibilities are listed against each role. More emphasis/information should be put on more recent jobs.

Educational history and professional qualifications should follow, including name of institutions and dates attended in reverse order – university before school results. List grades and passes attained. (These details will matter more if you have recently entered the job market, than if for example, you left full time education twenty years ago).

Next include any other relevant skills such as computer skills, foreign language skills and any other recent training/development that is relevant to the role applied for.

Leave hobbies and interests to last – keep this section short. References can simply be ‘Available on Request’. Current salary details should not be included. A good cover letter should always accompany your CV.

Your CV and cover letter should combine to create a picture of you and your career to date and illustrate why you are different from the competition! With this successfully achieved you should secure yourself a place on the shortlist.

General tips

Your CV should be laser-printed in black ink using a plain type face, on good quality A4 white/cream paper.

Decorative borders are not necessary, nor are photographs of you.

If applying by post, your CV and cover letter should be submitted in a suitable quality envelope, clearly addressed, with a first class stamp. If applying by email, time should be taken designing and formatting to ensure your details read clearly. Send a copy to yourself to check before submitting it for a role.

Your CV should ideally cover no more than two pages and never more than three. Aim to ensure the content is clear, structured, concise and relevant. Using bullet points rather than full sentences can help minimise word useage.

A basic CV may need tailoring with each job application to best suit the requirements of the role applied for.

The completed CV needs to be checked carefully for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes – which always leave a poor impression – and to ensure that it makes sense.

Remember when writing and structuring your CV that it is essentially a marketing document on you and that a potential employer will use the details provided to form interview questions. It should be clear and easy to read. Gaps in career history should be explained and falsehoods and inaccuracies avoided at all costs.

There is no reason to include your reasons for leaving each job on your CV but be prepared to answer these questions in your interview.