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Your CV: Bin or Win?

Student writer Esinam Akpalu-Mark enters the minefield of CV writing and finds out actually what is important to include on your CV.


Since those dreaded and mundane PHSE lessons in secondary school, we’ve been taught that one thing we absolutely need to get a job is a good CV. Name, educational history, work experience… We’ve all been there. Desperately trying to remember that French GCSE grade or figuring out if that week in your corner shop counts as work experience. Not to mention the ‘interests and hobbies’ section. What else can be shared beyond ‘socialising with friends’ or ‘watching football’?

It turns out that this typical list of things that have been crammed onto CVs over the years are, in fact, unnecessary. Taking a look at my own curriculum vitae I spotted a few things that, in retrospect, didn’t need to be on there at all. For example, an assistant coach position at a nursery one summer wasn’t necessary to include. I don’t plan to work in with young children or in education at any point, it was just there to make it seem like I had a wide range of experience. However, after booking myself into a CV Workshop on CareerHub, it became clear what factors build a good CV.

CV Wordle

The workshop intended to help us understand what employers were looking for and have a good understand of what makes a successful CV. It was perfect for those who have had enough of mass-sending out their CVs, getting no response, and also for those who just wanted some tips and hints. One of the key mistakes, often made by those trying to get their foot in the job market, is sending out CVs that look ‘busy’ without highlighting the most relevant information.

The ‘Bin or Win’ checklist that was handed out was designed to act as a quick test to help craft your CV. It advises candidates to think about whether the skills highlighted are transferable to the role being applied for. If you’ve included a personal profile does it concisely emphasise suitability for the type of work? If you tick ‘Yes’ you’re one step closer to a great CV. Showing how you made the most of your experience is also a valuable trait; instead of saying ‘you worked in a bar and served drinks’, you could include ‘excellent interpersonal and customer service skills, gained through extensive customer contact.’

Basically, the main aim is of a winning CV to make sure everything is relevant, and paints you in the best light by showing your fantastic skills that any future employer won’t be able to live without.


Esinam Akpalu-Mark photo

Esinam Akpalu-Mark is a 2nd year University of Hertfordshire student studying English Literature, Journalism and Creative Writing.



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