With all of the resources and assistance now available to job hunters and those planning a change of career it is astonishing how many applications fail at the first hurdle because of poorly written or badly presented CVs. First impressions really are important and in a competitive job market employers and personnel managers do not hesitate to weed out untidy and clumsily written CVs, especially if they contain basic spelling and grammar mistakes.

There is simply no excuse for that kind of carelessness. Any word processor can produce a neat-looking document, virtually all WPs have spell checkers and some, including Microsoft Word, have built-in templates that can help you to organise and create an eye-catching CV.

We will look at how to set up and use the 'Resume' facility in Word in a moment but first a few general pointers on creating a more successful CV.  Rule number one is keep it brief and relevant, if possible try and get the whole thing on a single sheet of paper. A CV is like an advertisement, you are selling yourself; it has to convey a message simply and efficiently. Employers do not have the time or inclination to wade through a lot of inconsequential information they want to know if you have the particular skills and qualifications they are seeking. Use words that convey a sense of decisiveness and action, avoid fluffy phrases like 'participated in' and 'involved in', which imply a lack of experience.

The two key areas are qualifications and employment history. Include all dates and details of your education. Emphasise your accomplishments from GCSE onwards but you might want to leave out anything that is more than five years old and it is highly unlikely that any employer will be interested in knowing about your primary school, no matter how formative an experience it was. Arrange the information in chronological order, starting with your most recent achievements.

An employer wants to see a concise record of your work history, again listed in reverse chronological order, if there are gaps explain them. Describe each task and be direct, stress problem solving skills, leadership abilities and notable successes, especially any that relate to the post you are seeking.

Include a list of general skills even if they sound mundane, a driving licence, fluency in a foreign language and the ability to use a computer are definitely worth mentioning. List relevant extracurricular activities, especially if they involve some kind of responsibility, organisational qualities or the ability to operate as part of a team. Employers know all of the tricks so don't try to disguise the fact that a skill or achievement is out of date or no longer relevant by leaving out important details.

When you have finished your CV double then triple check spelling and grammar. A surprisingly large number of job applications omit basic contact details, if you are submitting a CV by email do not forget to include your postal address and telephone number as well. Invite constructive criticism by asking someone you trust to read it through. It's important to include a covering letter that relates specifically to the post you are applying for. You should address the letter to the person conducting the interviews or posting the advertisement. Keep the letter short and to the point, reiterating the skills and qualifications that the employer is looking for. Your finished CV and letter should be printed on good paper using a high quality inkjet or laser printer.

If you are sending your CV to a prospective employer by email find out beforehand which type of format they prefer, there's no point sending it as a file attachment that they cannot read. Send a copy to yourself first, so you can see how it will look, and read it through carefully, just in case you missed anything.

There is plenty of useful information and helpful hints about how to create the perfect CV on the Internet.

For some helpful tips and an international perspective on CV writing try the

Monterey Institute of International Studies:


The Kenda Recruitment Solutions web site has some good practical advice, it can be found at:

Back now to the CV template in Word 97. It can be found on the File menu under New, select the Other Documents tab and click on Resume Wizard. The opening page shows you how the process works, click the Next button and choose the most appropriate style, then the type of CV you want to create. The next step is to enter your name, address, telephone number, email etc., and that's followed by a list of personal details that you may or may not want to include. Steps five, six and seven ask you to nominate the headings you want to use (employment, education, objectives etc), and that takes you to the finished blank template with your personal details already included.

To fill in the form just click the mouse cursor into the relevant field and key in the information. As with any Word document you can change any or all of the text attributes by highlighting the relevant section and using the typeface and font size menus. Once you've saved your CV you might like to experiment with some finishing touches, like a graduated tint or light texture. These options can be found on the Format menu, under Background. Try to use subtle effects, you could end up making the document difficult to read or give the impression that you're trying to be clever, either way might harm your chances of the CV being read.

Next week – Removing and reinstalling Windows




An area on a document that acts as a container for text or data that needs to be entered or might change, without affecting the rest of the document


A page that contains embedded instructions concerning typeface and size, page layout and style features. Word processor like Word contains a wide selection of ready-made templates or you can create your own


A self-activating program that guides you through a simple set-up routine for a particular feature or application



As you know the Defrag utility in Windows 95 and 98 is a good way of optimising the performance of your PCs hard disc drive. Over time and as you add and remove programs the filing system on the disc becomes disorganised. Defrag returns order to the file structure, helping to speed up access times and reduce wear and tear on the drive mechanics. Additionally Windows 98 can improve efficiency by grouping the programs that you use most often at the beginning of the drive. Instead of the usual method where you run Defrag from Properties > Tools in My Computer go to the Start menu, then Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disc Defragmenter and click the Settings button. On the dialogue box that appears put a check in the box next to 'Rearrange program files so my programs start faster', click OK and start the defrag program. 

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