Guest blog: CV top tips!


Guest blog from Debbie Gingell, Career Coach at Leg Up Careers

A winning CV is one that shows you off to your best potential!

Many people make the mistake of viewing their CV as a record of their education, skills and experience. Your CV is a personal selling tool and its job is to sell your skills, experience, abilities and potential! You have to motivate the reader to want to meet you in person – at Interview!

Consider the marketing material Estate Agents use to sell houses. They won’t lie about anything but will often turn the old outhouse in the back garden into a potential fourth bedroom if they believe this will sell the house. If you think of your own CV as a personal marketing or sales tool, it will help you to sell yourself.

There are essential elements required on your CV but the order you put them in depends on what sells you the most. If your work experience is key to your application, keep this on the first page, if your education is key, keep this on the first page.

Some top tips…

 Keep to 2 pages. There are some exceptions, an example would be an established scientist who has written numerous papers, or a doctor

 Never use tables or columns – only bullet points for lists

 Cover any gaps in your dates, even if you have to include periods of unemployment. HR recruiters are trained to look for gaps and always tend to think the worst

 Be honest – your CV will be used at interview and if you have lied, you could get yourself into a state when questioned

 Leave some white paper on the page – keep it easy to read

 Highlight the most relevant details, for example, don’t highlight your University in bold; highlight your degree
Never include important personal details like your National Insurance number etc;

 You do not need to have the title ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of your CV, it should be obvious what it is. This is like putting ‘Letter’ at the top of a letter

 Check your CV for typos and spelling mistakes, then check it again and then ask someone else to check it! One spelling error or silly mistake will spoil all of your hard work!

 There are trends with CVs that come and go. One trend used to be to include your photo at the top of the first page. This phased out, mainly to avoid discrimination and promote equality. Occasionally, some people still opt to include a photo. I have spoken to HR professionals at some of the larger organisations like Cambridge University Press who say they prefer to receive CV’s without photographs

Structure your CV:

  • Name and contact details
  • Personal Profile
  • Key skills and achievements
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Additional information
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • References

Again, change the headings according to what sells you. A young person who cannot yet list their key achievements should sell their ‘Key Skills’.

About Debbie Gingell:

Throughout my career, I have worked with people from a variety of backgrounds including: students, senior business executives, refugees, mums returning to work, ex-offenders and long term unemployed. I have worked hard to support people who need to secure their first/next job or University place and genuinely love what I do!

We are all unique individuals and I believe that it is important for us to secure the right job because it can lead to a sense of worth and personal satisfaction. My freelance work involves professional CV writing and career coaching for the Times Education Careers Department in London. Providing local and on line career advice and support via Leg up careers, and working with students at an Independent School in Cambridge, supporting students with their University applications and career decisions.

I am extremely committed to helping people to overcome barriers to employment so that they can move forwards and become more successful!

Feel free to email me on: or visit



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