The first in a series of expert advice blogs, from Dave Wood of www.northwestwebjobs.co.uk .

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, since I started working for North West Web Jobs, it’s that CV construction is an issue that many need help with. To put it bluntly, the submissions that we’ve received, through our Candidate Registration section, have included a surprisingly-high number of bad or downright ugly documents. Perhaps the abrupt redundancies that are beginning to typify the current economic climate are catching people off guard, leading them to present a sub-par account of themselves to their prospective employers. Perhaps the UK’s provisions for jobseeker education are, simply, inadequate.

No matter the cause, the problem remains. So much so that a few troubled individuals have recently approached me, inside and outside of working hours, asking for advice on how to create a “good” CV.

The main thing that I need to emphasise to them, and to any other jobseekers that have unwittingly fallen into the “bad” or “ugly” brackets, is that creating a “good” CV is all about spending time on the little details. Following the established CV conventions; whilst adding a small, strategic amount of personalisation to the document; is vital. Of course, in order to do this, you will need to be aware of what the conventions are, and closely in touch with what your personality is.

Hopefully, this series of blogs will give all concerned a detailed, section-by-section breakdown of how to go about producing that elusive “good” CV – giving readers the chance to take ownership of the image that their résumé conveys.

First of all, I’d like to make it clear that visual presentation is a life and death matter, when it comes to CVs. You need to be conscious that the average time-constrained recruiter will commit no more than a matter of 5-10 seconds to their initial once-over of your document. Any CVs that span more than two pages will immediately be dismissed. There are a variety of techniques that you can use to cram your entire life story into just two pages of text - some of which I’ll outline later in this series. The most straightforward strategies relate to visual presentation, and are as follows:

-          Optimise your font. Carefully select a font-size that doesn’t appear too small, when printed, yet allows you to squeeze all of your selling points into a two page .doc file. Consider changing the typeface to one that is made up of, naturally, smaller characters. Using a font other than Times New Roman should, also, make your CV stand out from the crowd. Don’t go too crazy though! Try to select one that’s appropriate for the roles that you’re applying for.


-          Use clearly headed sections. This presentation technique should help the employer to scan your document quickly.


-          Employ the use of tables. This should help you to condense detailed information, such as your employment history, into a smaller space on the page. My personal CV has two separate tables on it. One for my past employment, and one for my education history. Each is made up of four side-by-side columns.


-          Inject a small amount of colour. Select a single colour (again, one that is appropriate for the industry in which you are seeking employment). Use this for any tables, page borders and highlighting that you choose to implement. However, straying away from the conventional black and white, for your main body text, could leave your CV looking unprofessional.


Next week, Dave focuses on the personal side of CV writing.

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