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The Do, Do, Do’s of CV writing

A successful Curriculum Vitae (CV) not only gets you the interview but also, hopefully, creates a confirmation bias in the interviewer’s mind before you walk in the door. There are some definite strategies to employ when writing a CV and these will increase your chances of success. The lists below on what to do and what not to do when writing a CV should help.

Try to convey the positive difference you will make to the company. Does this mean customising your CV to suit every job opportunity that comes your way? You may alter the Professional Profile section for each role and, if there are keywords in an ad then yes, be sure to have these in your CV but otherwise, assuming you are applying for similar roles in just one career sector, it is better to have (and keep) all of your significant achievements in the document (once they are presented in the most advantageous way; see below).

If you are including a Cover Letter in your application you will have a further opportunity to show that you have thoroughly researched the company and that you understand the organisation’s needs. Show how you successfully handled similar situations when listing your achievements.

Today it is often the case that an Applicant Tracking System will weed out as many CVs as possible before a human ever sees them. The first person to see your CV (most likely from HR) will also use the same list of criteria to screen ‘out’ rather than ‘in’. So, be sure your CV hits the keywords and reflects the job description thoroughly.


  • Use keywords found in the advertisement
  • Show how past employers were better off because of the contributions you made to the overall effort
  • Illustrate, using numbers and percentages, how your skills and achievements made a measurable difference
  • Keep the design simple and use clear headings
  • Use a common typeface, such as Times New Roman
  • Rely on quantifiable achievements rather than duties and responsibilities
  • Start each bullet with verbs such as negotiated, created, initiated, launched etcetera
  • Be concise in your use of language
  • List your work history and educational details starting with the most recent
  • Check, check and check again for spelling and grammatical errors. When finished, ask others to do same
  • Leave out irrelevant information.


  • Avoid any negative sentiments or statements
  • Don’t write flowery prose
  • It is of course critical that you do not exaggerate or misrepresent your accomplishments but it is also vital that you spell out the details of your achievements in detail
  • Don’t forget others who were involved in these achievements
  • Don’t use poor quality paper
  • Don’t use casual abbreviations or street/text jargon.

Talk to a career counsellor, a career coach or a career consultant if you need further assistance.

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