How To… Write a CV

What is a CV?

A CV, or ‘curriculum vitae’, is basically a document that contains all information relevant to getting a job. It includes your name, previous employment, qualifications and references. It can be a daunting process and if done incorrectly can result in rejection – it’s important to get it right.

However writing a CV doesn’t have to a chore. Just follow these eight simple steps and you’ll be on the road to employment success…

  1. Spelling – No matter how qualified you may be for a job, it’s an almost certainty that poor spelling will result in no job offer at all. Check and check again – don’t rely on spellcheck and if you can get a friend or family member to look over it.
  2. Length – Most employers won’t have time to read page after page of information. Keep it short, no more than two A4 pages and if possible, get it down to one page.
  3. Personal Information – Make sure this is up to date and includes a phone number and email address if you have one. You don’t necessarily have to put your home address on your CV. You also don’t have to put your date of birth on your CV. However, bare this in mind when applying for jobs that may require you to be a certain age. Whatever you do, don’t lie!
  4. Previous Employment – Put your current or most recent employment first. Include dates of employment and a brief outline (i.e. one or two sentences) of your responsibilities. Only list employment that is relevant to the job you are applying for. If you are applying for your first job, focus on any skills and achievements you have gained within education, voluntary work and extra-curricular activities.
  5. Qualifications – Add your most recent qualifications first, but remember – you don’t have to list everything you’ve achieved since primary school.  Whatever you do, don’t lie about your qualifications. You will get caught out and it doesn’t look good to future employers.
  6. Personal Interests –  This lets you sell yourself to the employer in a few sentences. You can include hobbies, voluntary work, why you would be an ideal candidate for the role you are applying for – all that kind of thing. As always, make it appropriate to the job you’re applying for.
  7. References – Always check with your references that it is okay to use them as a reference before you add them to your CV. Ideally two references are required and these can be educational references (teachers), employment references (current/most recent employer) and character references (non-family members who have known you for at least one year). When adding a reference to your CV state their full name, job title and either a contact number or e-mail or work address. It isn’t always necessary to add your references – references are only contacted if an offer or employment has been made, therefore reference information can be asked for during interview stages. Whether you add references to your CV or not is completely your own decision.
  8. Multiple CVs – It’s a great idea to have more than one CV. This is ideal as you don’t have to continuously change your information to fit certain job profiles. For example, you can have one CV to apply for part-time jobs that you only require to earn some extra money. You can have another CV for applying to work experience placements in a particular area. Have as many as you like, as long as they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for!

You’re almost there to creating your CV! Once you have all the relevant information, it is then time to make it look good. Follow the tips below to create your perfect CV style.

Further Tips…

  • Experiment with different fonts and sizes, try putting your headings in bold or underline certain words for emphasis. It’s the style of your CV that you can make your own, so don’t be afraid to add a border or separate sections with lines. If in doubt get someone to have a look and see what they think.
  • Remember, everyone’s CV looks completely different so don’t be put off by this. If anything, the more dissimilar the better – you want your CV to stand out.
  • Try to get your CV typed on a computer. This is for a number of reasons including readability, like neatness and easy access to update or correct information. Many employers won’t accept a hand written CV so if you don’t have access to a computer at home, try your local library or even in school.
  • Keep it positive! When you give your CV to a potential employer you want your personality and enthusiasm to shine through so keep that in mind when writing. Don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments, be proud of what you have achieved.
  • And finally, you don’t have to write “Curriculum Vitae” on your CV – it should be pretty obvious what it is.

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