Making the most of your CV

CV writing is a controversial subject. If you ask two people their idea of a perfect CV, you are likely to get two different and rather subjective responses. However, there are a number of “do’s and don’ts” and common pitfalls which most personnel professionals would agree on.

Tailor your CV

  • Your CV should be kept to two pages maximum, and for those with little experience, writing a one page CV makes sense.
  • Make your CV reflect the job description you are sending it for – take time to tailor it.

Make it easy to read

  • Keep the design simple, ensure plenty of white space and use only one type style and font size to create a streamlined presentation. Keep the font plain and easy to read and use a font size between nine and 12 points. San serif fonts like Arial are clear and reproduce well on fax.
  • Put your contact details on the first page, including e-mail address and mobile phone. Many recruiters are under time pressure when compiling short lists for interview and may have a preference for candidates who make their tasks easier.

Keep it logical

  • Your CV should be chronological, with your most recent position and achievements first.
  • Highlight your achievements rather than listing everything you have done. Engineering is a goal-oriented career. Recruiters like to see what you have done, not just who you have worked for.

Make an impact

  • Always include numbers, percentages and amounts in your descriptions to back up your achievements. How many people did you supervise? How did productivity improve? This approach immediately highlights the kind of impact you have made.
  • If you want to sell yourself as a team player, don’t forget to mention that you play in a team every Saturday afternoon (for example). Your leisure interests can show that you have the right skills for the job.

Don’t leave unexplained gaps

Try to avoid leaving gaps. Most employers check dates when they go through CVs and would be suspicious of any break that is unaccounted for. Employers are looking for an explicit path through education and employment. If this is missing make sure you explain what was happening during that time. Reassure them that you were gaining knowledge and developing skills.

Show your enthusiasm

Be positive and demonstrate enthusiasm. Your CV should convey a sense of vitality and an image of progressing smoothly through your career. CV phrases should be dynamic. “I would love to,” is better than, “I am prepared to...” “Enthused by challenges,” is better than, “manages to cope under pressure”. Above all show passion.

Make the most of your training and qualifications

Engineering recruiters look for evidence of a serious commitment to your chosen career and will appreciate CPD activity and membership of professional bodies like SOE. Go to our Career pages for more information on CPD and to download the SOE professional development record.