The Dos and Don’ts of Preparing a CV

CV -ips

Whether you are writing a CV for the first time, or dusting off an old one for a job change, you are advised to pay attention to a few of the basic dos and don’ts of CV writing. This is because if your CV is not attractive then you won’t even get an interview, let alone your dream job.

Remember the guiding rule to CV writing is to ensure that it is clear, concise and convincing. Clear and concise because HR professionals and employers who read numerous CVs, are busy people, and don’t have time to figure out what you are trying to say or read your entire life story. Convincing because you need to show them the skills and talents you have that are relevant to the position you are applying to.

The job market in Hong Kong is picking up pace and now is the perfect time to strike for the right career opportunity. Before you do, however, review these other CV writing tips:

A CV should be typed or printed on good quality, white or off–white paper. Complex layouts or coloured paper can be distracting and certainly will not win you any points within a conservative profession. Ideally, you should prepare individual CVs for each specific application.

Include in this order:

  • Biographical data; name, address, date of birth etc.
  • Education; qualifications
  • Current employment
  • Experience
  • Salary (current and/or requirement)
  • Miscellaneous additional information (computer and language skills, hobbies and interests, etc.)


  • Do remember to put your address and contact details on the CV, not just on the cover letter.
  • Do indicate where you undertook your secondary education.
  • Do describe your degree by type, subject, level achieved and where it was gained. Do include honours if they are relevant. Academic or professional honours, in areas that relate to the industry you are applying to, are of obvious relevance. Your swimming prize and acting trophy may not be, unless of course you know for a fact that your interviewer is passionate about those subjects.
  • Do describe your current and past employment fully but briefly. Include the name of your employer, your title and dates, month and year of employment. Make sure to mention anything in your past experience that is particularly relevant to the position in question.
  • Do apply for positions where there is a reasonable match between your qualifications and those sought. Don’t worry if the match isn’t 100 per cent; it almost never is and you lose little by trying. If the population of highly qualified experts needed for a particular position is limited, it is more likely that the employer will have to make some compromise.
  • Do include outside interests and activities that show an outgoing nature or that have a bearing on the job. Employers are increasingly looking for evidence of self–reliance and adventure. Also, the fact that you speak fluent Japanese or Korean will be important to a firm with north Asian clients.
  • Do re-read your CV. Proof read it twice and when you are finished proof read it once more. Ideally, get somebody to proof read it for you. If you have word–processed the CV, always use the spell checker (but don’t rely on it entirely as it doesn’t pick up everything e.g. there/their), and save the file with an appropriate file name.


  • Don’t offer information about failed professional examinations. If you have had to take your examinations more than once, your CV should indicate only the date of passing. If the subject is raised in your interview, of course you must be frank. But if you don’t raise it, the subject may not come up.
  • Don’t include anything that might create a negative impression. Your political or religious affiliations and participation in controversial activities or groups are best left out. If you feel it is important to include them, subject them to a relevance test. Your membership of a particular political party, for example, might be important to the firm that represents that party.

Keep these tips in mind, get writing or editing and good luck!


Written by: William Glover, Head of Asia Pacific, Macdonald & Company (recruitment consultancy)