The do’s and don’ts of building your CV and LinkedIn profile

Want to give your job search an edge? Of course, you do. Maybe it’s time to spruce up your CV and LinkedIn profile – it’s not really a case of one or the other, the pair go hand-in-hand. Most of the time you’ll be found on LinkedIn, then your CV will be read if the employer likes what they see online. So you’ll need to consider what to include and where to include it. Luckily, we’ve got your back. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that can make or break your application.



Have a professional headshot

Avoid that drunken selfie from the office party. Remember, this is a professional business network. Think of it this way: what would you wear to a client meeting? How are you expected to present yourself? The best LinkedIn profiles include a profile photo featuring a clean headshot, a smile and a  nice clean background. It’s not Vogue.

Write a snappy introduction

Just like an interview, first impressions matter. So how do you write a LinkedIn profile? You need to sell yourself. An introduction will be wordiest part and should include who you are, your experience, your expertise and your career goals. We’re not talking War and Peace, a maximum of 4 lines will do.

Tell a success story

Here’s the chance to add all that extra colour you cut from your CV. When it comes to writing a LinkedIn profile, don’t just talk about projects, skills, and so on (although those are great to mention). Show employers what you bring to the table by including achievements with actual facts and figures.

Choose your groups carefully

LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs. Only join groups you want to engage with – otherwise, they’re pointless. Joining the wrong group can reduce your chances of being found, while the right group could lead to your dream job.

Send a warm welcoming message

Okay, you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn…now what? Well, you could talk to them. Many people don’t follow up new connections, instead they just collect connections. The best way to find job opportunities is to build relationships (that’s what LinkedIn is all about).


Be afraid to reach out

Whether it’s a recruiter or someone working at your dream company, it’s okay to reach out in a meaningful way. Make your message personal, sending a generic message makes a bad impression and could lead to someone ignoring your profile.

Lock down your profile

Privacy settings are there for your protection. But if you want to engage with other people, you’ll need to make your contact list and activity feed open to everyone. If there are people you don’t want to share your information with, then remove them as a connection.

Neglect your online presence

Even if you’re not looking for a new role, keep tipping away. Try posting a least one update a week and stay in people’s thoughts.

Treat the platform like Facebook

Don’t post photos of your cat (not even on their birthday). The best LinkedIn profiles always keep things professional, you don’t want to annoy your connections with unnecessary updates. Stay relevant and comment appropriately on things that matter to you, congratulate a friend on a new job and update people on your own career development.

Use dull default messaging

It’s plain lazy and doesn’t show who you are. When you reply to a message or send a connection request, don’t just pick a generic message, write something personal or maybe ask some questions. It’ll certainly speed up the conversation.



Include your name, professional title and contact details

This might sound a tad obvious. These details should be positioned at the top of the page – there’s no need to include the title ‘CV’ or even worse ‘curriculum vitae’. Including your email address and phone number are essential (you’ve probably guessed why).

Make your CV neat and tidy

It’s time to declutter. No-one wants to read a CV that’s higgledy-piggledy. Your CV layout should be clear and easy to read, that means it should be scannable with enough white space between each section. Squashed text is a big no-no.


Bullet point on your achievements

Don’t be afraid to brag – but do it in small doses. Just like your LinkedIn profile, you need to include your main achievements. This time you’ll need to fit everything on a single page, so be selective. List about 3 and 5 achievements for each role.

Tailor your CV for the job you want

So how do you write a CV? Think about the requirements of the role and what skills, experience and achievements you have that match them. When doing a CV, don’t include any responsibilities, skills or achievements that aren’t relevant to your application.

Be social

So what else do you include on your CV? Include links to your LinkedIn profile, blog or portfolio – things are easier for employers when everything’s in one place. Don’t include links to your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts (again, no one wants to see your cat).


Be afraid of white space

Is your CV layout looking a little bare? That’s probably a good thing. If you’ve included all the important information like work experience and achievements, you don’t need to worry. Just don’t get carried away and make your CV too sparse.

Put personal stuff

Don’t include your age, marital status, religion or national insurance number. It’s a bit of a red flag if your potential employer asks for this information…it’s illegal.

Include irrelevant hobbies

You might be a sure hand at archery club or Camden Sunday League’s top scorer, but if it’s not relevant to the job then it’s might be a waste of time and space. Showing your personality is a good thing, so if you do include hobbies, make sure they’re relevant to the job specification.

Explain departures

CV writing is all about demonstrating your suitability for the job – so don’t mention why you left previous roles. It comes across a bit negative. If your employer wants to know (most likely in the interview), then feel free to tell them.

Include salary or day rate expectations

This can be discussed after your interview. First, the employers need to be convinced if they want to hire you or not. If a recruiter got in touch about the role, they should be able to give you at least a ballpark figure.

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