CV checklist

Crafting a professional CV, or curriculum vitae, is a tricky but necessary part of the good ol’ job hunt. Thing is, a good CV will help you stand out from the crowd in a competitive job market. But how do you know what things to put on your CV to make it stand out? By reading our CV checklist, that’s how!

A young man is going through his CV checklist. This is a wide-angle image.

Follow our CV checklist to avoid common mistakes

As soon as they pick up your application, employers are looking for reasons to say ‘no’. And your curriculum vitae (CV) is the first thing they see. That’s why we wrote this checklist. It’ll help you avoid the most common CV mistakes so you’ve got the best chance of bagging that interview. Before we start our CV checklist, if you’ve yet to write a CV, you might wanna read our article on how to write a CV here for more advice about things to put on your CV. Just don’t forget to circle back to this one.

1) Don’t make your CV longer than two pages

How to write a CV? Be concise. Ideally, it should be a skills based CV that’s roughly a page and a half. That means you can totally cut it down some more. Do not make employers work to find the information they need. Even if you can usually speak for Britain, you have to keep it short and sweet. Trust us, they’ll thank you. 

2) Make any spelling and grammar mistakes and it’s an automatic ‘no’ from them

How to write A professional CV 101 – Read your CV and spell check it. Then print it off and spell check it again. After that, get someone to check it for you again. Glamorous? Of course not. Worth it? Most definitely. Just one little mistake could distract from all the other amazing things on there.

3) Embrace the bullet point

This one’s a crucial part of the CV checklist. Since employers have loads of CVs to get through, they’re likely to scan-read. This means that it’s your job to make their job as easy as possible. Don’t write sentence after sentence elaborating on every excruciating detail of that waitressing job you had when you were 15. Honestly, don’t even include it (unless it’s your only job experience). Instead, bullet point any relevant skills and recent experience you have. Make sure to break things up into easy digestible chunks.

4) Don’t list things chronologically

CVs aren’t a memoir starting from birth, and gradually making its way to the present day. You’ve gotta uno-reverse that shit. Put your degree result before A-Levels and A-Levels before GCSEs. Similarly, when you write about your work experience, put the most relevant at the top. For instance, 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 things to put on your CV. So make them easy to find. But your SATs results from Year Six? Your entire work history since you were 11? Your Gold swimming badge? Not so much. You’ve only got two pages. It’s time to get brutal and start editing like there’s no tomorrow. Just make sure not to cut your email address – that might be an issue.

6) Think about which hobbies and interests you include in your CV

The activities and interest section of the CV is another opportunity to make yourself memorable. Don’t state the obvious. And especially don’t make it obvious if your ‘hobbies’ consist mainly of ‘downing jagerbombs’. Start by asking yourself what interesting stuff you can do? Can you juggle? Do you play guitar? Are you currently reading your way through the great American novels? These are the types of things that’ll make you stand out from the crowd . Check out our article on job skills for some pointers.

7) Be consistent with your CV layout

We’d imagine that the last thing you want to do is give a potential employer a migraine. With that in mind, if you start listing dates on the left, keep it that way throughout. If you’re using bullet points, don’t just randomly switch to numbers. And, please, please, Don’t randomly put a box around some sections and not others. It will offend. Us and them. If you need some inspo, just look at the consistency of this CV checklist. 

8) Tailor every CV to each job application

One CV doesn’t fit everything. They’re not a scarf. That’s why it’s vital that you read the job description, job title and personal specification for every role you’re applying for carefully. That way you can tweak your CV, personal statement, and cover letter (contact details can stay the same). Then the employer will only see information that’s relevant for them.

9) Between jobs?

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

More advice for how to write a good CV

Read to find out how to write a good – nay great – CV? Check out our article on the topic here. We’ve also got plenty more articles to help with getting a job here. Are you a student? Then we’ve got some student CV tips here

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.
  • 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.

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CV

By Holly Bourne

Updated on 02-Jun-2022