CV Writing Tips

Reading time: 8 Minutes   |   Written August 2019

Applying for a job can be a daunting experience, but with our simple hints and tips and template, we’ll ensure your CV stands out from the rest and stands you a better chance of attracting the attention of prospective employers. Your CV is the very first thing that people will see, so need to grab the opportunity and get it right first time.

What’s a CV?

A CV is simply a summary of your skills and experience so that an employer can see at a glance where you’ve been working, what you’ve been doing and the skills that you have.

CV Writing Tips for the over fifties

Start with your framework

Everyone will have their own style and layout, but there are common sections that you should
ensure you include:

  • Name, email and mobile
  • Personal statement
  • Education and qualifications
  • Work history – including relevant experience, skills, knowledge and attitude
  • Key achievements
  • Summary of skills
  • Interests, hobbies
  • Referee contacts

It’s got to look the part

First impressions count massively when an employer has 30 CV’s and is looking for a reason to discount yours! Recruiters will make judgements about your CV from look alone within 20 seconds.

Backgrounds should be white, and if printed out, the paper needs to be neat and tidy, no creases. If sending in the post, do not fold your CV and use an A4 envelope to keep it extra tidy (a reinforced one is even better).

Use bolding, spacing and underlining consistently and use the same structure throughout to present your information to make it look neat and tidy.

Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there, such as your personal statement or a summary of skills.

Two pages of A4 is your max

Recruiters won’t necessarily have time to read CV’s that are more than 2 pages long, so make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of them reading all you have to offer, by keeping it concise and to the point in 2 pages.

If you’re struggling to get it down, re-read your CV to double-check that everything you are talking about is relevant in some way to the job you are applying for – if it’s not take it out.

Perhaps you could rephrase something more concisely, or you have repeated something. Make every word count!

Understand the job description

Almost everything you need to know about the job will be contained within the job description, so make sure you read this really carefully as this will be key to tailoring your CV to the particular role.

Identify the main skills, knowledge, experience, attitude or mindset required and think about which of these you can demonstrate you have. If you’re unsure as to whether an advert reflects the full job description, contact the recruiter to ask.

Show the list of the main skills, knowledge, experience and attitude/mindset required to a trusted family member or friend that knows you well and ask them to identify your strengths and weaknesses against the requirements. They will often identify more strengths than are first obvious

Be honest with yourself

It’s really important that you enjoy the job you do, so if after reading the advert and job description and reviewing your knowledge, skills experience and attitude, you don’t believe you have what the employer is looking for or that you would enjoy it, think very carefully about whether to apply! Not every job will be the perfect one for you, be honest with yourself. Don’t just go through the motions, because if you get to interview an employer will see straight through that!


Once you’ve understood what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, tailor your CV specifically for that role. This doesn’t mean starting from scratch each time, but it does means taking some time to ensure that your CV highlights all the main points an employer is looking for. The effort is worth it, you won’t get passed the initial screening with a CV that’s aiming too wide. It also starts to prepare your thinking for when you get to interview.

Making the most of skills

This is one of the most important areas, an employer is really interested in the skills that you have the offer. It’s also useful where you don’t have exact experience they are looking for, because transferable skills, ie. skills learning in one environment, that can then be used in a different environment are still very valuable.

Eg. You may not have the call centre experience they require, but you have the transferable skills from your time working as a Receptionist, eg. answering phones, and dealing with customers and complaints.

In this section of your CV outline your key skills. These could include; communication skills, computer skills, team working, influencing, multi-tasking, problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you’ve done to grow your own skills, it doesn’t just have to be from a working environment, perhaps you play a sport, or are the member of a club or charity – it’s all potentially relevant and gives the employer a more rounded picture of you.

To make your skills really standout, bold those that are directly relevant to the role. Don’t be tempted to bold too much as it will lose its impact, but do draw the recruiter’s eye to the key parts.

Making the most of interests

Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you’ve gained and employers look for or that demonstrate you are a good fit for the business. Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative. For example, if you run or are a club of a club, play an instrument or do volunteer work let the employer know.


Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Don’t include passive interests like watching TV, solitary hobbies that can be perceived as you lacking in people skills. Make yourself sound really interesting.

Making the most of experience

Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as “managed”, ”co-ordinated”, “developed”, “organised” or “achieved”. Try to relate the skills you have learned to the job role you’re applying for. For example: “The work experience involved working in a team,” or “This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.


Really get to grips with the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions – every little helps.

Including references

References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience.

Try to include two if you can.

Keep your CV updated

It’s so easy to forget all the great things you do across the years, so it’s crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that’s missing. For example, if you’ve just done some volunteering, worked on a new project or learnt a new skill or hobby make sure they’re on there.

Potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.

Summary – CV writing Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Keep the format and layout neat and tidy and consistent
  • Read the advert and job description very carefully
  • Identify the key job requirement – skills, knowledge, experience and attitude
  • Assess yourself against these criteria – ask a trusted friend or family member to help
  • Be honest about whether the job is right for you
  • Be very clear about the relevant skills you have
  • Identify transferable skills
  • Share info about interests that enhance your desirability and highlight skills
  • Use assertive and positive language when outlining your experience
  • Include 2 references
  • Update your CV every 6 months
  • Check out our further tips and templates for writing the perfect cover letter and preparing and attending interview

Don’t:

  • Include your date of birth
  • Send crumpled or folded CV’s
  • Use an embarrassing or unprofessional email address
  • Apply for every job out there or assume that every job will be right for you
  • Don’t let your CV go over 2 pages long
  • Send a generic CV, tailor it to the specific job and requirements
  • Don’t under sell yourself
  • Don’t give up – a job search can sometimes be a testing time, but you will get there!