20 Point CV Checklist – Chilli Pepper Career Blog

ChecklistWhen it comes to writing your CV, you need to be hard on yourself. I hate to break it to you, but reading your CV is a chore for any employer and, given the slightest excuse they’ll gladly bin it and move on to the next one. They don’t even need to feel guilty about this. After all, if you’re prepared to represent yourself with a document that contains clichés, typos or confusing language, why should they take you seriously as an applicant?

So treat your CV as a serious project. Put aside plenty of time and make it as good as it can possibly be. It’s like getting dressed up for a wedding – everything should be crisp, clean and elegantly turned out. Nothing less will do. The tips below should help you to get it in shape.

However, as well as avoiding the obvious pitfalls, you also need to make sure your CV contains the goods. This means understanding how the system works. For example, CVs are mostly scanned rather than read. The employer will look out for evidence of specific experience, relevant qualifications and certain key sentences that show understanding of the role. So you’ll need to tailor your CV accordingly.

There’s no need to become obsessive. Just put in the things the employer wants to see and leave out the things no one wants to see. In essence try and make it as easy as possible for someone to find what they need within your CV as quickly as possible so they gain a favourable overall impression of who you are and what you have to offer.

REMEMBER Your CV is your personal ‘Sales Document’ or ‘Marketing Flyer’ and therefore it’s vital that you make an immediate impression, any silly mistakes and you could ruin your chance of being selected for an interview.

  1. Give a clear profile of yourself this should be no more than a paragraph i.e. 5 lines and relevant to the role you are applying.
  2. Include your achievements this is your opportunity to stand out from your competition and impress the reader.
  3. Include your name on all pages in the event they become separated.
  4. Leave out any information that can be discussed during an interview as your CV should be no more than 2 pages and therefore it’s not necessary to list every point in your job description (current or past).
  5. Be selective about your interests and personally I wouldn’t include any unless they create the WOW factor!
  6. Make sure you have an up to date CV perhaps obvious, but by up to date I mean some time in the last 6 months at most.
  7. Don’t get too ‘creative’ and take care that your CV is clearly formatted, so it’s easy to read and looks professional.
  8. Two pages maximum length because if you can’t sell yourself in 2 pages then it’s unlikely you’ll do it in 3 or 4.
  9. Use clear, simple language that people understand and avoid all abbreviations, acronyms and industry jargons.
  10. Avoid clichés to include dynamic, hardworking, team player, thinking out of the box, Try to be creative when describing your key attributes.
  11. Check and check and check again because how often do you become irritated by spelling or grammar mistakes in documents? Make sure every word is correct.
  12. Personal information is no longer necessary so remove your date of birth, marital status, number of children and place of birth.
  13. Keep your email address and voice messages professional as whilst a sense of humour is important you must always lead on your professionalism.
  14. Never, ever lie as you could lose your job or, worse, face legal action from your new employer.
  15. Don’t hide gaps in your CV instead you should provide the reader with a brief explanation.
  16. Don’t enclose a photograph unless specifically asked to do so.
  17. Avoid using the 1st person to keep your CV document professional.
  18. Always print a copy to review before sending and then read it out loud.
  19. Keep a copy with you at all times so you can review it at different times of day in different circumstances. You might just get ideas about how to make parts of it stronger.
  20. Don’t skimp on it because this is your most important job finding tool. This is the document that could decide how much you earn over the next few years. Work on it, review it, try anything you can to make it better.


Time invested in your CV is time invested in your future.

About the author

Nikki Hutchison, founder of Chilli Pepper Global www.chillipepperglobal.com advising you on every aspect of the job seeking process guiding you step by step whether you are looking to move internally or externally.

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