The Perfect CV

So, you’re applying for jobs. One hurdle you will need to jump is writing ye olde ‘Curriculum Vitae’. This can be your best friend, if done well, or your worst enemy (we prefer the first!). To help you to have a clean and pristine CV that will dazzle anyone – we asked top local employer Becky Simkiss on some top tips for a winner of a CV:

The Layout

You want your CV to look clean, sharp and professional. Ideally you are looking for a document that is two pages long. A classic layout of white page with black text is essential; choose a nicely presented font that is clear and easy to read. Have your name, address and contact details at the top and centre of the page. Do not include your date of birth. Proof read several times and cast a critical eye. Give to a trusted friend with a great eye for detail to check too. Look at your CV as though seeing it for the first time.”

General Content

“Avoid long paragraphs and large chunks of text, you will lose the interest of the reader. Make sure you avoid any slang words and unnecessary acronyms. Tailor your CV to the opportunity that you are applying for. Read through the job description and highlight qualities that the role requires. Use positive language throughout and don’t be afraid to let your achievements shine through.”

Personal Statement 

“Use personal statements to give an overview of you. It should be a short, succinct paragraph and needs to grab the attention of the reader. Try to avoid using “power phrases” that are very generic and lack meaning such as, “A motivated, hardworking team player with the ability to also work on own initiative”. Use words that demonstrate your individual qualities that are then backed up by your experience.”

Key Skills, Education and Career History

These sections go after your personal statement. There is no hard and fast rule about the order, so feel free to chop and change. However, always add dates (not of the food variety) clearly next to the relevant information:


“Key Skills – List any individual qualities you have that demonstrate your suitability for the role. These can be IT skills, training or professional qualifications and any additional language skills.


For Education – Give a general overview of your achievements. Dates and place of study, GCSE’s, A-Levels, and Degree etc. should be listed.


Career History – start with your most recent employer first and then work back. Have strong headings and ensure the company name is clear, along with your job title and dates of employment. Adding reasons for leaving each of your roles is also very helpful, especially if you have worked in a number of contract roles. If you have been temping then include this information. Cover any gaps in employment with a brief description of how that time was utilised. I.e. “Travelling throughout Australasia” or “Actively seeking employment”. Under each job heading, write a line or two to set the context of the business you worked in. What do they do and how your role was positioned within that. Then use bullet points to highlight your key responsibilities and use evidence of your achievements to demonstrate your skills. List any significant achievements and detail how that benefitted your business.”


“These should be at the end of the CV. References can be detailed or you can use “References can be supplied upon request” if you are struggling to keep to the two page rule.”

Personal Interest

“Use the personal interests section wisely. Avoid the old adage of “Reading, going to the gym and socialising with friends”. Keep it short and simple. Two lines highlighting your interests and what really motivates you in your spare time, it can be an interesting conversation point in an interview!”

So there you have it – a brief intro. You can find more information on CV dos-and-don’ts, whilst having a laugh at the bloopers here. Or for any more help pop into  Careers Network and have a chat wth an advisor.


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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