How To Write A Grown Up CV

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Are you on the prowl for a paying job but finding that no one is biting the bait that is meant to be your CV? Maybe your resume hasn’t been updated from that time you went looking for work as a student. Or maybe you’ve been out of work due to a baby, an illness, or an extended round-the-world trip.

Here we gather five tips from experts that will put a pep in your step towards paying more tax.

No fancy fonts

In primary school, joining up all the letters is what separates you from the chimps. In adulthood, cursive typography only comes in handy when a handwriting expert needs to ascertain whether or not you’re a serial killer.

When typing up your CV, use a font that is simple and readable. Fiachra McCarthy is one of the dynamo designers that sits in the office near us, and he knows what looks good on paper, and on screen.

His favourite fonts – start taking notes – are Helvetica Neue, Gill Sans, Tahoma and Futura. All of these are clean and neat choices. Fiachra is especially in love wth the former, saying that Helvetica Neue “looks well when used for both headings and body copy, and is super easy to read. I can send it out confident that it will survive even the most broken, neglected and begging for fresh toner, laser jet printer your prospective employer might have at their end. You can use it at 9pt and it’s still very legible, so even if you’ve waxed on and on about your amazing leaving cert results (don’t) and several scouting badges (please don’t), it doesn’t look like hard work for the reader to get through.”

However, if you want to get your personality across don’t feel limited to sans serif – that’s font talk for straight lines. Fiachra says that Georgia, Palatino and Bell are the perfect fit for formal industries. He’s adaman, however, that you keep away from over-stylised types. And NEVER use comic sans.


Even with a wealth of editing tools at people’s disposal and at least 14 years education, spelling mistakes are still a blot on jobseekers’ CVs.

Eoghan McDermott is a director at The Communications Clinic and helps coach people in job interview preparation. “Believe it or not people still have typos on their CVs,” he says. Such a gaffe may indicate that you’re unprofessional, and not detail orientated, two qualities that are a major red light to any prospective employer.

How can you make sure you don’t slip up when it comes to typos? First, make sure you read over your CV numerous times. Run it through spellcheck on Word, and watch out for any pesky American English corrections. Another handy tool is web-based app Grammarly, it claims to be ten times more circumspect than any word processor. From personal experience it’s great at catching the passive voice. Then read your CV again. Ask a friend to read it. Ask another friend. Sure, you might feel like you’re magnifying the self-loathing that is writing a CV, but you may stop yourself looking like a tool to someone who could end up paying you money every month.

Tailor your CV for the job

Your resume is not a One4all voucher. According to Eoghan, “one of the biggest mistakes is not tailoring your CV to the job that you’re applying for. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all CV. People need to look carefully at the job spec and match their CV to it.”

Most people in today’s climate are not looking for the dream-specific-as-a-google-pin-drop job. In the past few years, millennials have come to realise that cracking into an industry means adapting to circumstances. This means you will apply to a plethora of jobs, some of which vaguely make your heart skip a briefcase beat.

Don’t send out a CV that is a collection of your every accomplishment. Tailor the details to the spec and make sure you’re not just excellent, but relevant too. One tip that has helped us is employing the language of the job description. We don’t mean copy-and-pasting paragraphs and adding the first person pronoun. Try slightly mirroring the CV to show that you are approaching the suitable choice. And no lies. Ever.

Be specific about what you can do

While online dating profiles are all about looking sane and not showcasing the fact you have a shelf full of Star War novels, a CV should be full of facts. Eoghan advises against listing what you did in previous roles, “ Your CV also needs to be skills and achievements based.” Talk about how you accomplished the goals you were set. Give statistics. Mention contracts you were instrumental in landing. You’re more than a pen pushing worker monkey. When you write about yourself, write about how you’re an asset.

Do some social media gardening

Consider your CV the passport. Think of your social media presence as the flags airport security use to make sure you’re not a terrorist before boarding the plane.

Facebook’s year function means it’s easier to source that photo where you thought it was funny to wear swimming togs to the club. It probably still is funny, but recruiters aren’t known for being constant craic. Also, make sure your page is private via the privacy settings.

The same with Twitter, if you’re job seeking it may be worth considering a temporary name change or going private. While your followers may find your constant slagging of the Irish political system a fury-filled riot, employers might be wary of your firebrand ways. Also, constantly calling Tom Hardy a ride and linking to Mad Max feminist memes might hurt you if you’re interviewing for an accountancy firm.

As regards LinkedIn – get one. Most recruiters search for candidates on the site, so make sure you have a version of your CV on the site, as well as a good photo. If you have some money, a headshot is a good idea, but a nice Instagram doesn’t hurt either. However, if it’s a pouting selfie, it may.

Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun

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