CV Writing Best Practice Guide
(Last updated 23/4/20)

Given the current state of the economy and employment, many members of the Jamat may find they will soon need to re-enter the job market. Now is the time to prepare for your job search, which often starts with creating or updating your CV, or curriculum vitae.

The average recruiter spends 75 seconds reading a CV, so first impressions count when applying for a job. A CV is your personal marketing document used to sell yourself to prospective employers and it's critical to get it right.

75% of CVs are rejected due to bad grammar, spelling or poor visual layout. In fact, your CV will likely be processed first by an Application Tracking System, or ‘Resume Robot’.  If the robot doesn’t understand your CV, it won’t select it.

AKEPB has prepared this comprehensive best practice guide to help with writing your CV and is offering 1-to-1 assistance with your CV, cover letter or interview preparation. Please contact us on [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

See below for our essential checklist when preparing your CV.


Click on the section headings below to jump to the section that you want to read about first.

Research the CompanyLength and Presentation Use of LanguageFormatting and Layout | Personal StatementEmployment HistoryEducationSkills & AchievementsCheck Your WorkWhat Not To DoFurther Reading

Research the Company

Tailor your CV to the job and company you are applying to. Look at the company's website and social media accounts, look to see if they've recently been mentioned in the local press and use the job advert to make sure your CV is targeted to the role and employer. Use the keywords used in the job advert in order to get past the ‘Resume Robot’ software in case it is used by the hiring company.

Length and Presentation

A typical CV is no more than two pages long. If you are a recent graduate your CV may only take up one page and that's ok. Some medical or academic CVs may be longer depending on your experience. Leave out anything that will not add value.

Always include a cover letter unless the employer states otherwise. Always send the CV as a PDF file to ensure it can be opened on any system. Present your CV to be easily scannable. If you are printing your CV, use white paper.

Use of Language

Use powerful, active verbs when possible. For example, include words like 'created', 'analysed' and 'devised' to present yourself as a person who shows initiative. Other useful verbs include: ‘managed’, ‘optimised’, ‘reduced’, ‘developed’, ‘increased’, ‘supported’, ‘designed’, ‘delivered’, ‘planned’, ‘negotiated’, ‘presented’, ‘resolved’, ‘improved’.
Avoid generic, over-used phrases such as 'team player', 'hardworking' and 'multitasker'. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.

Formatting and Layout

Choose a clear, legible font such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman in 10 or 12 point and stick to a couple of font sizes throughout. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, but never reduce them to less than 1.27cm or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.

Instead of putting “Curriculum Vitae” at the top, put your name and make it larger, centralised and bold. Next should come your email address and contact number. A full address is now no longer necessary; town and country are enough. Include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section, but only if it’s up to date.

Below this, write your personal statement, employment history and education. If you have a lot of work experience, employment history should come before education.
Then include a section on skills and achievements, and at the end, a section on interests.

Section headings (font size 14 or 16) are a good way to break up your CV.

Personal Statement

This section should be no more than five sentences long or 100 words. It should cover who you are, what you can bring to the table, your achievements, skills  and your career aims. It pays to understand yourself and will require some thought. What are your strengths? What do you already have experience in which is relevant to this role? How does this role align with your career aspirations? The personal statement should remain specific to the sector, while the rest of the CV and Cover Letter can be specific to the company.

Employment History

List your most recent role first. You do not need to go back beyond 10 years. Include your job title and company of employment and your dates of employment. Include any key points that may resonate with the prospective employer. Include some factual information about how you positively impacted the business. Remember to set out clearly what you were responsible for, what was the scale or impact of the work you did? Are there any metrics which you can include to show the difference your contribution made?


Include qualification, subject, grade, institution and date. Only add in further information if it will help the recruiter understand the context of a course in relation to the role you’re applying for. There is nothing wrong with focusing on the positives. Include relevant professional qualifications if you have any.

Skills & Achievements. Interests

Information that will strengthen your application could include IT skills, training, language skills, relevant awards or membership of professional bodies. Include 4 or 5 key skills at most. Make the interests relevant to the company or sector; if possible say how you will use them with the company. If particularly critical to the role, you may wish to include your key skills just earlier, just below your profile.

Check Your Work

Read through your CV before you press send or even better, ask someone else to double check it in case any spelling or grammatical errors have slipped through the net. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone else’s perspective to help query any jargon or to help you to build on areas which you might naturally undersell.

What Not To Do

  1. Do not disclose how old you are on your CV. There is no need to add your date of birth.
  2. Do not disclose your marital status
  3. Do not include a photo with the CV
  4. Do not print on both sides of the paper
  5. Do not send a CV without tailoring it to the specific company
  6. Do not use the personal statement to list your hobbies or interests
  7. Do not repeat what you have written in your Cover Letter
  8. Do not use an odd or whacky email address
  9. Do not use an odd font such as Comic Sans or smaller than 10 point
  10. Do not lie about your qualifications. It is fraud and can result in a prison sentence
  11. Do not say 'socialising', 'going to the cinema' or 'reading' in the interests section. Include only those interest that add value
  12. You do not need to provide the names of referees at this stage, or to say 'references available upon request'
  13. Do not include your home address if posting your CV online, as you could be targeted by fraudsters

Further Reading

The Guardian
Example CVs

Example CVs

CV Library

Example CVs (CV Library)

CV Library Resume Robots


Example CVs (Reed)