CV Do’s & Don’ts

Your CV is your first interaction with an employer and builds an impression and picture of you as a prospective employee.

On average, recruiters take around 60 seconds skim reading a CV before deciding whether the person is potentially right for the role, so making sure that it stands out can make the difference between you getting your dream job or not.

Below are a few tips that you can use to make sure that your application is highlighting your skills and giving you the best opportunity.

DO make sure that your contact details are at the top, both your email address and mobile phone number. As CV’s can be skim read in the first instance if the details are hidden away at the bottom they can be missed, and assumptions made that you haven’t included them.

DO double check that all your contact details are correct. It’s surprising how many people change their number and use an old CV to apply for a role or keep an email address that they have forgotten the password to or no longer use.

It’s a small detail that is often overlooked and can cost you your dream job!

DO make sure that you have a professional email address. Your choice of email address can say a lot about you as an individual. Individuality is great but football club affiliations, nicknames and dubious references in emails should be avoided and if you need to set another up make it simple with your first and last name.

DO make sure that you have a clear and succinct personal statement. This should always be written by referring to yourself in the first person and not the third.

Avoid clichés such as, “works well in a team and also on my own,” and think about how friends, family and previous bosses or colleagues would describe you to ensure that it is individual to you and has impact for the person reading it.

DO tailor your personal statement for each job that you apply for. If you applied for another role that states you are passionate about working in childcare and you’re applying for a role in retail the employer will assume that either you don’t really want to work in that sector or that you haven’t paid attention as you’ve not changed the details.

Researching the background on the company and its culture will help you pick out what they are looking for and you can tailor accordingly to highlight your skills and experience and how they would match that organisation.

DO make sure your jobs are listed in reverse order with your most recent first.

The layout should be clear:

  • Date
  • Position
  • Company
  • Key Responsibilities

Put your main daily responsibilities in bullet points, ensuring that you think carefully about all your previous skills and experience. Sometimes it can help to think about what you did over the course of a day

DO remember to review your document on spelling and grammar. Any spelling mistakes can make it look sloppy and give the impression of a lack of care or attention to detail. Asking someone else to proofread it with a fresh pair of eyes can also catch mistakes that may be missed.

DO use a clear font and ensure the spacing and paragraphs are correct. Writing a CV in various or non-uniform fonts can be distracting and look like you haven’t thought about it carefully or make it incredibly difficult to read.

Stick to the same font throughout, with clear sections:




Email Address

Personal Statement;

  • Tailored to the role you are applying for

Work Experience

  • Most recent first
  • Laid out in format shown below with clear dates, role, company and key responsibilities


  • Listing uni, college or school qualifications
  • Start with the highest level/most recent qualification first

Additional Info/Hobbies & Interests

  • Don’t be afraid to include these, there’s nothing wrong with showing another side to yourself outside of work but make sure they are real
  • 99% of the population likes ‘socialising with friend, reading and going to the cinema’ be a little bit different and stand out!

DO ensure that the email that supports your application is tailored to the company or the hiring manager if you know their name If you apply through a job board often it creates a generic introductory email, make sure you change this to stand out from the crowd and show that you have put in the extra effort to show how serious you are about the role.

DO use a compatible format for your document in either Word or PDF. As most companies will use Microsoft Office and will be unable to download or open your CV if you use a program that they do not have access to.

DON’T put your photo on your CV. Unless you are an actor or a model it’s not necessary and can often distract from the content of the CV. Your skills and experience are what are being judged, not what you look like.

DON’T give too much information. 1 or 2 pages is adequate and 3 is absolute maximum.

All the information should be clearly presented so that the employer does not have to search for the information and can see straight away that you fit the role.

You want to give sufficient and clear information about your roles and the responsibilities you held and the best way to do this is through bullet points.

DON’T leave the hiring manager to guess. On the opposite side of the coin, don’t give too little information either. Listing only the dates, company and job title doesn’t really give any insight as to what you did. Don’t assume that the other person will be able to tell exactly what your skills or experience is purely by the role you held; the same title could be held across 500 different companies with each one of them slightly different.

DON’T stretch the truth It can be tempting to cover the gaps of periods of unemployment or overstate your expertise or experience. Whilst this might get you the interview the likelihood is that it will come to light during the actual interview itself or when your references come back. No-one likes being duped and it’s a sure-fire way to end up being rejected as the trust is broken before you’ve even started.

DON’T send without double checking the attachment From recipes and holiday confirmations to family photos and blank documents – recruiters have had many strange things come into their inbox. Make sure before you send that you have attached the right document so that you are making the right first impression.

Overall, make sure that you have definitely attached it, a surprisingly large proportion of applications are sent without a CV or application attached!

For more support with your CV or applying for jobs in Edinburgh city centre get in touch with our FUSE team at or call the team on 0131 370 3850


Posted by Calum Nicol

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