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3 – Planning

Getting it right - keep it simple

Your CV is your chance for to ‘sell’ yourself to a potential employer. You need to communicate your skills and experience and emphasise your strong points. Presentation is very important. Employers use CVs to decide who to interview and who not to interview.

Your CV should be well designed, with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. It should be two A4 pages long (or maybe three if you have a long work history). It should be relevant for the job.

What employers like

  • Short and simple CVs that follow the standard format: personal and contact details, personal statement, career history, education, hobbies & interests, references.
  • CVs in a simple readable font like Times Roman, Arial or Helvetica.
  • Two page CVs. If you have done a lot of jobs, a third page is acceptable.
  • Evidence. Experience and education that shows you can do the job.
  • Effort. If you’re applying for a job, find out more about the company, what they want to know and the kind of person they need, and show through your personal statement, education, employment and hobbies that you would fit in to the company.


This is NOT the place to show off your artistic skills! Black text on white A4 paper is best.

What employers don’t like

  • CVs with arty layouts, coloured paper, etc. Employers usually only read CVs in black text on white A4 paper. Put your energy into what it says rather than making it pretty.
  • CVs that aren’t relevant. If you’re applying for a painting job or a cleaning job, your CV has to show that you know how to paint or clean.
  • Lack of evidence. It’s no good to say “I am honest” - you have to prove your honesty, eg you spent time working in a shop or doing babysitting without making mistakes.
  • False information. Keep it real, as employers might check your claims, for example about how many GCSEs you achieved or the jobs you say you’ve done.
  • Long CVs. Remember, two pages max!
  • Gaps. If you were unemployed or unwell for a time, let them know but explain how you used and developed your skills and education during that time.
  • Mistakes. Sometimes there are hundreds of applications for a job, and a mistake in a CV may be the one small thing that stops you getting an interview. Use a spell checker and get a friend or support worker to proof-read your CV until you’re sure it’s perfect.

Next: 4 – Creating a blank CVBack: 2 – What do I need?

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