Careers Advice Blog

Don’t get your CV binned

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One of the things you’ll encounter in sixth form is the endless time given to perfecting your personal statement.

Although you’ll spend hours crafting the perfect 4000 character boast, no one actually spends any time telling you how to create the perfect CV. Arguably a much more important document, this is something you should be invested in the day you turn 16 – after all, most jobs will naturally require it.

The length

But as with all important things in this world, it’s monumentally easy to get wrong. But never fear! There are some simple guidelines that you can follow in order to make sure you end up on the shortlist and not in the shredder. First thing you should look at is length.

Two pages is the longest any CV should ever be, and it’s easy to keep it this way until you retire into the sunset. Remember that the employer will be reading at least 10-15 CVs for the same position, and that’s a minimum estimate. If it’s too long, they just won’t bother and the shiny special person that is you won’t come through.

Qualifications and career

Another thing to remember is qualifications and career. Don’t be exhaustive when you talk about either of these – sorry, but no one cares about that paper round you had for three weeks when you were 13. If you’re the sort who loves to volunteer and do extra-curriculars, you’ll probably want to devote a space to “professional experience”. Stylistically, this should be the same as the career section, but keep it as relevant as you can – cut and change as you grow, and you’ll keep it looking perfect.

Paid work

As you get older, you should only list paid work that is either relevant or recent. But don’t leave gaps in your employment unless they were legitimate and you’re prepared to explain them in interviews. As for qualifications, the same applies – once you get your A Levels, GCSEs become irrelevant. Feel free to list them, but keep it concise and devote more lines to your current qualifications.

Some final tips include providing references so that employers don’t have to the extra work and making sure you list all possible methods of contact so they can get in touch with you. What you’ve got to remember is that this has to sell you, and even if you know you’re a social chameleon who could ace every interview, you’ll need to look good on paper to get there. If you keep it slick and relevant, you should be fighting off the interviews.

Do you have any more tips on how to not get your CV binned? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Peter Pearson / Flickr

Warwick Editor for Career Camels and Deputy Comment Editor for The Boar.
Nicholas BuxeyDon’t get your CV binned

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