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CVs & Cover letters

CVs and Cover Letters

Spotted a job on MW Recruitment for which you’d like to apply? Use the following checklist to keep your CV and cover letter error-free...


  • keep it short
As a good rule of thumb, no more than 2 pages for a CV, and no more than 1 page for a cover letter. Recruiters are likely to make a decision about you at a glance, and remember – the more you write, the more room you create in which to waffle or make mistakes.
  • stick to a simple layout
Unless you’re going for a job in art & design, then forget fancy graphics or fonts – Helvetica, Times New Roman or Arial 9-11pt are more than enough. Put the most relevant info for the job up top. And contrary to popular belief, your contact details and address can go at the bottom of the page – recruiters scan CVs from top to bottom, left to right, so the most important info, e.g. your personal profile, should take the top slot, not your postcode!

Recruiter likes/dislikes

  • 50% say the cover letter is as important as the CV
  • almost a third only read a CV for 1 minute before making their decision
  • the main reason for rejecting a CV is irrelevance to the job
Chiumento CV Survey 2006
  • quantify your achievements and skills
Prospective employers don’t just want to see what you did in a previous job, but what difference you made. For example, instead of writing ‘I improved absence management in my team’, tell them by how much – ‘I introduced a new shift system that reduced staff absence from nine to three days per year, the lowest in my division’. This kind of info tells the employer a) that you are a person who takes initiative, and b) what you could do for them.
  • tailor your cover letter
The cover letter is your selling tool to show recruiters that your CV is relevant FOR THEIR JOB. The best cover letters incorporate key words and skills mentioned in the job ad. But if you are stuck for time, and need to use a standard letter, one trick is to cite where you saw the ad – that’ll have them thinking what comes next really was written for them.
  • be selective about the info you include
A CV is not an autobiography. Only include the information that is most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Otherwise, the relevant info may get buried. Less really is more (and the ‘DON’T’ section tells you how to exclude jobs without leaving gaps).


  • overdo the personal information
Legally, in the UK, employers are not permitted to ask you about your marital status etc, so you don’t need to include this info in your CV. Nor do you have to include your interests and hobbies – it’s up to you. If you do include them, make sure they are real – we’ve all heard the stories about candidates claiming to love classical music who end up being interviewed by a Beethoven buff!
  • leave unexplained gaps
The more recent the gaps, the more attention they will attract. So the best way to show recruiters that you have more work experience that you are just not describing in detail is to include a section in your CV such as ‘previous work experience’ that outlines briefly the kind of jobs you did, or that lists them (provided there aren’t too many) by job title, company, nature of company’s business, and dates. You could also just leave the gaps, as long as you come to the interview prepared to be asked about them.
  • exaggerate
In other words, don’t over-hype your skills or experience – describing your communication skills as ‘excellent’, for example, will result in harsher treatment of any typos they find – you’ve been warned!
  • shoot yourself in the foot with silly or negative info
Watch out for those …er… quirky email addresses, eg ‘’, as they won’t give quite the professional impression you want to convey. Also, don’t include your reasons for leaving any previous job – including them just draws attention to them, so leave it for the interview, and come with answers prepared.
  • forget to spell check
More and more job applicants are falling at the first hurdle in the job application process because of typos in their CV or cover letter – apparently, over half the employers in London say they bin applications that contain spelling or grammar mistakes, according to a government survey. And the biggest mistakes you could make? ‘they’re’ (they are) when it should be ‘their’ (belonging to them); ‘it’s’ (it is) when it should be ‘its’ (belonging to it) and the slang form ‘gonna’ when in writing it should be the formal ‘going to’.
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0207 199 6263
finding the right person for the right role

Get in touch
0207 199 6263
finding the right person for the right role