Careers Advice

How to make sure your CV gets you that interview

It’s a busy time of year for recent graduates. You’ve got the qualifications; you’ve had time to think about the kind of job you’d like. But what next?

Published: 29/07/2016

Whether you’re thinking of applying for a graduate placement or another form of employment, it’s vital that your CV is well written, well structured, and avoids any classic mistakes. It’s the one tool that will help you get a foot in the door.

Employers use CVs as a quick, easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. If there’s an obvious typo in line one, well, that means your CV might end up in the recycling bin.

If you haven’t written a CV before, you can visit your Careers Service for expert advice, or The Guardian has an excellent template you can adapt in the meantime. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that will help you create a winning CV:


  1. Be concise and make clear points. Outline your experience and qualifications as a priority and give them relevance to the role you are applying for. You can use the interview to talk about your interests and motivations.
  2. Include details about all summer and graduate placements you have undertaken. These will help to demonstrate the key skills that you have learned, and show that you are serious about your career.
  3. Make sure your CV is searchable. If you aren’t familiar with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) spend a little time researching how to make sure recruiters and employers can find you when they are searching through online databases. Google’s Search Engine Optimization: Starter Guide is a useful place to start.
  4. Keep it short. Two sides of A4 is easily enough. Remember the person reading your CV may have a lot to get through.
  5. Tailor your CV for every role. If you think a certain set of skills or training, like social media or leadership experience for example, are well suited to a particular position put them first.
  6. Highlight your transferable skills. For example, was research part of your degree dissertation? Do you have any technical skills that could be used to fulfil the job spec? Can you drive?
  7. Make sure your contact details are up to date and if you have a LinkedIn account include a link to your profile, which contains additional information and endorsements of your skill and abilities.


  1. If you decide to use an introduction, don’t use words like ‘energetic’ and ‘driven’, it won’t help your cause. Rather - focus on your career history, experience, and qualifications. Explain why you’re already the right person for the job.
  2. Use dramatic punctuation to emphasis points. Using an exclamation mark at the end of every sentence is a very fast way of telling your employer that you aren’t very good at writing.
  3. Use fancy fonts, CAPITALISATON or images. These may make it harder for employers to read your CV. Don’t give them an excuse to put yours to the bottom of the pile.
  4. Don’t use an email address that doesn’t appear professional, i.e.

If you are interested in building on your existing experience and CV, why not consider looking at one of our student summer placements or graduate placements? We also have a CV advice section that will be useful.

You can find more information about applying for jobs and careers advice on our website. If you’d like to ask any questions, please contact us.

Written by Karla Sam-Sin, Programme Manager – Highlands and Islands at ScotGrad