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10 Dos and Don’ts of CV Writing

Are you putting off writing or editing your CV? One of the most commonly asked questions we get is about the format of CV’s. To help you along with your CV writing process we have written a summary of our top 10 dos and don’ts of CV writing!

Dos:

  • Keep your CV at two pages max (we know it is hard!). You need to demonstrate you can prioritise relevant information with the content you provide
  • Introduce yourself in a personal statement at the top of the page, including your skills and what you are looking for in a few sentences
  • Include your contact details and a link to your LinkedIn profile
  • Save your CV in a word doc or PDF in the format `full name and CV’  
  • Set out the dates of your employment, the company and your position clearly with accurate spacing
  • You can include a brief description of the company you worked for, followed by bullet points to present your achievements, using figures and stats where necessary (use power words!)
  • The education and employment sections should be in reverse chronological order. You can include a `relevant experience’ section
  • Have a skills section highlighting any IT and language speaking skills. You can also include any courses/training, driving skills or leadership skills that are relevant
  • Choose a professional font, one that is easily read and looks good when printed or scanned
  • Important: Be meticulous in your spelling and grammar!

Don’ts:

  • Avoid long, chunky looking paragraphs (white space is your friend!)
  • List all of your GCSEs/O-Levels or every module from your degree, just those related to the job you are applying for
  • Experiment with size (making the text bigger to fill the space/smaller to fit) or wacky colours and fonts
  • DOB, picture and marital status are not necessary
  • Use acronyms, technical terms or clichés (instead demonstrate clichés such as `hard worker’ in your experience and achievements)
  • Use personal pronouns
  • Include irrelevant skills and work experience (not including them will not decrease your chance of getting the job!)
  • Explain why you left every single position. You can cover this at interview, but also in your covering letter.  If you are not currently in employment and want to explain why, put a brief note in your covering letter.  If you are applying through an agency, be transparent with them and they can help you to explain.  If you have done a series of fixed term contracts, putting “fixed term contract” next to the job title will signal that this is why you haven’t stayed longer in the role
  • Submit your CV with unprofessional email addresses or names
  • Lie! With a simple search a lie can be found out and this won’t go down well with your interviewer

Extra Tip: Don’t leave gaps.  Account for any gap years/sabbaticals or times out of work, but briefly and without it becoming distracting.  If you omit something, it will raise more questions than a brief sentence accounting for the gap.

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How to Get into Publishing

Last week The London Book Fair hosted the event `How to get into Publishing?’. The Olympia Room was full of eager graduates, awaiting advice and tips of how to kick start their career in publishing. Here we have created a summary of what was said.

The panel:

Carl Smith https://uk.linkedin.com/in/carl-smith-8a2a3411b

Shalini Bhatt https://www.linkedin.com/in/shalini-bhatt

Katherine Reeve https://uk.linkedin.com/in/katharinereeve

Maria Vassilopoulos https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-vassilopoulos-51572320

The panel began by offering a background of themselves, what was their first role and how did the skills in this role set them apart during interviews?

  1. One of the roles was working in a bookshop as a Christmas temp. The skills developed within this role; customer service, bookselling, industry knowledge contributed to success in an interview, especially when asked `what is your favourite book?’.
  2. A hospitality background and the transferable skills developed here; customer service, working on multiple projects, confidence and working with lots of different people are skills relatable to roles within publishing.
  3. If you have not studied an English or History degree, don’t worry, for one of the panel a visual arts degree stood them out from the crowd.

Interview tip: Build a rapport with your interviewer, something you have in common can help you shine in an interview.

What are the geographical challenges and how can they be overcome?

We have to admit that most publishing roles are based in either London or Oxford. However, the big publishers are not the only ones out there. You can gain experience through working in bookshops or working for charities or library suppliers for example.

Editorial roles are not the only choice. Take a look at HR, finance, marketing and production roles also.

The Spare Room Project offers free accommodation in London whilst taking up work placements. Read our blog on the Spare Room Project here: http://ow.ly/86Ck30o88C0 More good news; internships are more often than not paid.

Interview tip: Make sure you are prepared. Research your interviewer and the company on social media, look for a talking point. What are they currently advertising/working on?

In job specs how much of the criteria do I need to meet before I apply?

You don’t have to meet all of the essential and desirable skills, but you need to meet the main essentials and demonstrate them in your CV and cover letter. 

If you feel excited by an advertisement, if you know you can do that job then go for it! There is no harm in applying.

However, be realistic and ask yourself will you feel comfortable answering questions relating to the criteria in an interview situation?

Interview tip: Go in with questions, be curious and passionate.

What are the dos and don’t’ s of CVs and cover letters?

Do’s

Introduce yourself in a personal statement at the top of your CV, your skills and what you are looking for.

Always read the job spec, pick out the key skills and buzz words and demonstrate you have them in your CV and cover letter.

Be meticulous in your spelling and grammar

Prioritise information and layout, show them you can do this in your cover letter and CV. Keep your CV at max 2 pages.

Don’ts

Overdesign your CV. Instead keep it simple, not too hard on the eyes or text heavy.

Send your CV in the correct format if requested.

Make your personal statement too generic, focus on particular skills.

Don’t list all of your previous jobs, but the most important and relatable ones which demonstrate the skills they are looking for.

Interview tip: Represent yourself in the best possible way, but be yourself! Always ask when you will hear from them of the outcome of your interview.

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CV Tips – Do’s and Don’ts

Working in recruitment, we look at a LOT of CVs. One thing that can help or hinder a candidate is how they’ve laid out their CV – we try to look past the structure to the content, but this is made MUCH easier when the information is presented clearly and logically. It’s not about fancy designs (unless you are applying for design roles), but a well-structured CV demonstrates your written communication skills, which are essential in any publishing job.

Do

DO clearly set out the dates (month and year) you worked at any position.

e.g. November 2015 – October 2017        Atwood Publishing          Sales Assistant

DO use concrete figures and examples to back up your achievements. Statistics sound impressive!

DO use bullet points which list your responsibilities and accomplishments in each previous role.

DO include a brief ‘Profile’ at the top of your CV. This is optional, but can give you an opportunity to highlight your most relevant skills and experience for the job. It should be tailored to each role you apply for. Do NOT exceed a couple of sentences.

DO save your document as a Word or PDF document and name it something like ‘Jane Bloggs CV’.

DO specify the relevant IT programmes or programming languages you are competent in under your ‘Skills’ section – InDesign, Microsoft Office, WordPress, HTML etc. Also mention if you can speak any foreign languages.

DO maintain a professional style. You can include details of your interests to make it personal; however, a CV shouldn’t be in an informal or ‘chatty’ style.

DO list your education and employment in reverse chronological order. However, if your most relevant experience is not your most recent, you may want to do a separate ‘Relevant Experience’ section above your ‘Recent Employment’ section.

DO provide a link to your LinkedIn profile, and if it’s relevant (such as for publicity roles) your Twitter handle or blog URL.

Don’t

DON’T write long paragraphs. It makes the relevant information harder to find and a Hiring Manager might miss something important.

DON’T go over two sides of A4. You need to demonstrate you can prioritise relevant information.

DON’T include a picture, date of birth or details of your marital status.

DON’T write ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top. It’s a waste of space as the hiring manager already knows what they’re looking at, so just put your full name.

DON’T list all your GCSEs or O-Levels, as it takes up too much space. It’s fine to put ‘3 x A grades, 6 x B grades, 1 x C grade, including English and Maths at grade B.’

DON’T include details of every module you took for your degree, but only include something if it’s relevant for the role you want.

DON’T mention anything political or controversial.

Other Resources

See our suggested CV layout here! You can also find more resources on our advice page.

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