CV checklist

About to send off your CV? Read this first to give yourself the best chance at getting that job.

Employer with thumbs up

Don't make me turn this thumb upsidedown... I'll get even cheesier

Employers are looking for reasons to say ‘no’. And your CV is the first thing they see. Here are some common mistakes to avoid so you’re more likely to bag that interview.

1) Don’t make it longer than two pages

Ideally, it shouldn’t be more than a page and a half. Yes you CAN cut it down some more. Do not make employers work to find the information they need. Keep it short. They will thank you.

2) Spelling and grammar mistakes = automatic ‘no’ pile

Spell check it. Then print it off and check it again for spelling mistakes. Then get someone to check it for you again. Just one little mistake will ruin all the other amazing things on there.

3) No essays and embrace the bullet point

If employers have loads of CVs to get through, they’re likely to scan read. Make it easy for them. Don’t write sentence after sentence detailing every minute of your waitressing job. Bullet point the skills you have. Break things up into easy digestible chunks.

4) Don’t list things chronologically

CVs aren’t a story of your life from birth, starting with ‘once upon a time’. Reverse the order: degree result before A-Levels and A-Levels before GCSEs. When showcasing your work experience, put the most relevant at the top. So if you want to be a video producer, list your week’s work experience at the BBC over your paper round.

5) Don’t list every single tiny achievement you’ve ever had

Relevant achievements are great. So make them easy to find. But your SATs results from Year Six? Every single job you’ve ever had since you were 11? Your Gold swimming badge? You’ve only got two pages. Have a stiff word with yourself and cut cut cut the crap crap crap.

6) Everyone likes going to the cinema and spending time with friends!

The activities and interest section of the CV is another opportunity to make yourself stand out. Don’t state the obvious. And especially don’t make it obvious your ‘hobbies’ consist mainly of ‘downing jagerbombs’. What interesting stuff do you do? Can you juggle? Do you play guitar? Are you currently reading your way through the 100 greatest novels of all time? Catch the employer’s attention.

7) Be consistent with your CV style

You don’t want to give a potential employer a migraine. If you start listing dates on the left, keep it that way throughout. If you’re using bullet points, don’t suddenly switch to numbers. Don’t randomly put a box around some sections and not others. It will jar.

8) Tailor every CV to each job application

One CV doesn’t fit it. They’re not magic gloves. For each job, read the job description and personal specification carefully and tweak your CV to ensure the employer can only see information relevant to them.

9) Between jobs?

It may be worth having two ‘base’ CVs — one for ‘career’ job applications, and one for temping jobs. It will save time in the long run.

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Next Steps

  • Young Women's Trust offer a free telephone and online coaching service for women aged 18-30 to help with anything from work, life or building confidence. You can also get free advice on your CV or job application. Call 0808 808 8099.
  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.



By Holly Bourne

Updated on 29-Sep-2015