Make your CV shine

You may not want to hear this but…your age, sex, qualifications, the current job climate, your hair colour, none of these are really stopping you get an interview, more often than not it’s because your CV is not doing you justice.


Looking good on paper or online, with the majority of CVs submitted electronically these days, is an illustration that you will be good in an interview – if you present text well then you may be able to present yourself well.


Whilst content of your CV is paramount, the way it looks and the impression it gives must not be forgotten.


Your font size should ideally be 12 – if it’s less then people start to find things difficult to read. If this presents you with problems then try using a small font size for the elements such as contact details, or reference details. Or use a different font size for qualifications. As a rule, where there is more than a line of text it should be size 12 font.


Do not use a “fancy” font. “Scripted” fonts, that look as if someone has “written” the text are rarely a good idea. There’s a lot to be said for using a straightforward font like Times New Roman or Garamond. They tend to provide a more business-like appearance to a letter or CV, rather than Arial or Courier. Georgia is a trendy font at the moment that may give your CV a different feel.


Do not be afraid of white space – that’s space where there is no text. Do not feel that you have to fill every centimetre of the paper and resist the temptation to insert some clip art, no matter how “amusing” or “quaint” it might be.


Your word processor has a spell checker – use it. There is little worse than a badly checked CV. Once you’ve finished your CV get someone with a keen eye to check it. There are no excuses for typos or bad grammar in a CV and it can be the deciding factor for sending a CV to the “no” pile.


If you are submitting a hard copy of your CV, or an electronic copy that allows decent formatting, then modest use of colour can set your CV apart. Some people like to use non-white paper for CV’s. This is down to individual choice, but white is always the safe and professional option.


Beware of making your CV look too “trendy”. Many CV templates available with word processors or downloadable from the web are too “art” intensive. Also, if you rely on a template the likelihood is that your CV will look very similar to that of other applicants…why not let your CV show some of your personality and “design” it yourself?


Your CV should reflect you. You would turn up looking your best for an interview, your CV should enable you to do the same.


Try to differentiate between the skills gained  academically and those in industry, put them in two clearly labelled sections.  Finally, NEVER NEVER EVER try to bluff people, the reviewers are usually experts in the field concerned.


For example a candidate who claimed, in his CV, to have experience in techniques involving Potassium Bromide,  yet at the interview did not know what a KBr plate was.  He did not get past that point.


Finally make sure that your qualifications are correct.  We all know that no-one will fabricate their qualications but the B and the M keys are only two keys apart.

You do not want to lose a job because you typed MSc instead of BSc.

Similarly when typing your grades.


Just like the scientist they are looking for  ............. check things thoroughly!