Writing a CV – The Saints and Sinners

CV tips

When it comes to writing a CV, many people don’t really know where to start. It can be difficult when writing a CV to get your experience and qualifications in such a way that will attract the attention of employers, especially in such a competitive world.

If you want to ensure your CV shines for all the right reasons, this list of saints and sinners should keep you on the right track.


  • Summarise yourself in the profile (opening paragraph of your CV.) What type of role you are seeking and what relevant attributes you have for this kind of job.
  • Most Recent First. Always start with your most recent job and qualifications and work your way back. The most recent will be the most significant, as your career and qualifications will have developed over the years.
  • Clear and Concise. The content of your CV is obviously highly important but don’t forget to ensure the layout is clear and concise too. Recruiters will often just scan the CV and if the layout is messy, they probably won’t take a second look.
  • Spelling Check. Always check your spelling before sending your CV, as bad spelling is really off-putting. In most jobs, you will be required to send out letters, emails and other correspondence, so the employer will want to know that you can spell (or at least run a spell check!)


  • Overly Creative. Unless you are applying for a really creative role and have discovered an innovative way of displaying your credentials, stick to a standard CV format. Quite often, it will be HR who will be sifting through CV’s and they just want to quickly scan to see if you fit the role and move onto the next. Some candidates go over the top with their CV’s, to the point where it’s difficult to understand what experience they actually have.
  • Too long or too brief. In general, a CV should be around 2/3 pages in length, it certainly shouldn’t be 7 pages long or only 1 page. Stick to the last 10 years or so, less if the role was for a significant length of time and takes up a lot of space. You can go into more detail during the interview process.
  • General CV’s. If you are applying to different industries, always tailor your CV and cover letter to suit the role. The employer wants to understand what passion you have and why you are right for the job. It doesn’t mean to say that you can’t be interested in more than one industry. Just make sure your CV is adapted to suit.
  • Don’t go into detail about personal life. It’s fine to mention some of your interests but there’s no need to tell the employer how many children you have and the fact that you are now separated from your wife. To be blunt, they don’t care about this. They just want to know why you’re suitable for the role.
  • No photos. You may be proud of the ski trip you undertook, but putting a photo of it on your CV is not really relevant. As in fact, are any photos – just leave them off.

Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens