12 CV tips that work

Although networking and LinkedIn continue to challenge traditional ways of finding work, the CV still remains a crucial document for any individual searching for work – one that has potential to say so much, or so little, when it reaches the right person’s desk.

Fiona Jackson is a Careers Consultant at the OA with extensive HR experience in both the commercial and not for profit sectors. Here are her top tips for getting your CV job-ready.

Top CV tips

  1. Don’t include too much personal information on your CV (marital status, age, children, etc.). As well as not being relevant, there is a danger a candidate could be putting themselves at a disadvantage.
  2. Know your reader – be careful that the traits and characteristics you think are desirable are actually wanted. For example – ‘meticulous attention to detail could sound ‘jobsworthy’ in some contexts.
  3. If you write that you have outstanding communication skills, make sure your CV reflects this. Any spelling or grammatical errors will result in immediate rejection.
  4. Use active, rather than passive verbs. It can be a subtle difference but ‘managed’ sounds as though you’ve taken ownership, in comparison to ‘responsible for’.
  5. The CV is not the time to write your memoirs – stick to two pages, as it could appear arrogant to assume people have the time to read more.
  6. Don’t make your CV difficult to read by squeezing too much on to two pages.
  7. Be careful with hobbies or interests that could be emotive or sensitive topics for people – for example, deer stalking or shooting.
  8. Avoid subjective words such as ‘dynamic’.
  9. Don’t put everything from the past ten years down in detail – list only relevant skills or courses for the job.
  10. Leave out quotes from people you have worked with that could be meaningless out of context.
  11. Do not use inappropriate or unprofessional-sounding email addresses.
  12. Keep your CV chronological.


If you’re a commissioned officer transitioning from the Armed Forces, and would like independent expert advice on your transition (including CV’s), you can book a one-to-one consultation with one of our expert Career Consultants in London, Bristol, Leeds or Portsmouth. Simply call 0117 906 3580 or register online.