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CV

 Writing  Guidelines  
Andrew  Kennedy,  15  May  2011  
This  document  describes  tips  and  techniques  for  writing  a  CV  when  applying  for  jobs  as  a  
knowledge  worker  or  other  role  requiring  at  least  degree  level  education.  The  points  
discussed  may  be  at  odds  with  other  advice  or  received  wisdom,  but  bear  in  mind  that  much  
discussion  of  CV  writing  is  aimed  at  careers  that  do  not  require  specialised  technical  
knowledge  as  a  pre-­‐requisite.  
If  an  employer  cannot  read  around  five  pages  of  text  about  you  and  your  skills  and  
knowledge  to  determine  whether  you  will  be  a  suitable  fit  for  a  role,  and  a  useful  asset  to  
their  department  or  team  for  the  next  five  years,  ask  yourself  if  you  would  want  to  work  
with  that  person?  One  page  per  year  is  not  much  to  ask,  particularly  for  modern  knowledge  
workers  and  technically  demanding  roles.  Additionally,  the  ability  to  express  yourself  clearly  
and  communicate  domain  knowledge  is  an  important  skill  in  and  of  itself.  
As  a  professional  knowledge  worker  you  will  be  expected  to  communicate  with  others  in  
your  field  and  convince  them  of  your  skills  and  capabilities  in  order  to  lend  credence  to  
technical  arguments  and  other  writing.  Your  ability  to  work  as  part  of  a  tem  and  to  expand  
your  knowledge  by  continual  learning  and  study  is  normally  taken  for  granted,  and  is  
attested  to  by  possession  of  an  advanced  degree  level  qualification.  
It  is  domain  specific  knowledge  that  is  most  important  to  employers,  and  if  this  does  not  
come  from  industry,  then  you  need  to  show  that  your  education  and  qualifications  have  
provided  an  adequate  grounding.  This  involves  providing  a  very  detailed  description  of  the  
contents  of  your  degree  course,  including  modules  studied  and  any  projects  or  dissertations  
completed.  This  also  reinforces  the  fact  that  you  have  retained  this  knowledge  and  can  recall  
and  use  it  when  required.  Any  external  references,  such  as  links  to  a  final  year  dissertation  or  
other  publications  is  a  relevant  field  are  also  useful.  Even  seemingly  trivial  items  like  a  blog  
can  be  a  valuable  indicator  for  an  employer.  
Finally,  bear  in  mind  the  first  point.  Do  not  be  afraid  to  use  a  larger  font  or  more  spacing  
between  items  when  writing  text  in  your  CV.  Paper  is  not  is  short  supply,  and  good  use  of  
spacing  will  make  the  text  easier  to  read.  There  is  no  hard  limit  to  the  length  of  the  
document,  and  two  pages  is  almost  certainly  never  enough.  

Guidelines  
1. Write  for  yourself  in  a  few  years  time.  Imagine  yourself  in  the  hiring  managers  
position,  and  think  about  what  information  you  would  want  to  know  about  a  new  
hire  before  a  phone  screen  or  face-­‐to-­‐face  interview.  This  is  usually  a  purely  technical  
screening  process,  as  soft  skills  are  almost  impossible  to  evaluate  by  reading  a  CV.  
2. Skills,  Experience  and  Education  are  the  only  categories  of  information  that  can  be  
effectively  and  usefully  communicated  in  a  written  document.  
3. When  enumerating  past  roles  to  describe  your  experience,  give  as  much  detail  as  
possible.  At  a  minimum  include  the  following:  
• Job  title,  Company  name  and  Duration  of  role  
• Your  responsibilities  and  their  scope  

Copyright  2011  by  Andrew  Kennedy,  Licensed  as  Creative  Commons  Attribution-­‐ShareAlike  2.5  UK:  Scotland  License    
• All  skills  required  and  used  regularly  
• Anything  learned  while  working  there  
• The  purpose  of  the  role,  project  and  company  
• Any  interesting  or  important  accomplishments  
• At  least  one  or  two  paragraphs  describing  the  role  itself  and  your  activities  
4. Total  document  length  should  be  greater  than  two  pages.  
5. No  personal  details,  such  as  hobbies  or  favourite  colours,  beyond  standard  contact  
information.  
6. Include  an  introductory  section  summarising  your  abilities  and  skills.  
7. A  bulleted  list  of  the  main  skill  categories  and  sub-­‐categories  provides  a  good  
checklist  for  assessing  suitability  quickly.  Ensure  this  section  is  kept  up  to  date,  and  
tailored  for  specific  positions.  
8. When  describing  your  education,  list  as  much  information  as  possible  about  courses  
and  modules  studied,  their  objectives  and  any  projects  or  dissertations  completed.  
9. Links  to  dissertations,  published  papers  or  blogs  on  the  Internet  should  be  made  
available  where  possible.  
10. Remember  that  you  are  looking  for  a  career  in  an  industry  where  you  will  
immediately  be  a  useful  asset  due  to  your  qualifications.    

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