A CV, otherwise known as a curriculum vitae or resume, is a summary of your academic and professional history, achievements and other interests and skills. It is usually the first contact with a potential employer and it should be used as a personal marketing tool to showcase your experience, skills and attributes.
In today’s competitive work environment there can be thousands of applicants for any one position so it is essential to have a CV that will get you noticed and make you stand out from the crowd. It could be your ticket to a fantastic and fulfilling new job - so it is definitely worth investing some time and effort in. If you already have a CV then review and update it regularly – you never know when you may need it!
Recruiters will spend an average of 20 to 30 seconds looking at your CV and it is vital that it displays all the relevant information in a clear and easy to read way. There is no standard formula or absolute rule for how it should look but it is important that your CV is relevant to and targeted at the job you are applying for. This will probably mean having more than one CV.
THE CV CHECKLIST
It sounds obvious but it is important to list your full name and contact details on your CV so that you are easily contactable by employers. Include your email address and telephone number at the very least. You could also include details of your gender, age and driving licence status – but none of this is essential.
A personal profile is your opportunity to grab the employer’s attention and give them a brief summary of who you are and what you’ve done. Although there might be lots of things you want to say here it is best to keep it short and succinct - too much information looks daunting on the page and might encourage the reader to skip through. Include your most impressive actions and achievements and try to keep it work focused. It is, however, nice to end with a sentence about your personality and attitude.
List your employment history in reverse chronological order with your most recent employment first. Include the name and contact details of the organisation, job title and dates and use bullet points to summarise your key duties and responsibilities there. Be sure to highlight the parts that relate to the job/person specification and use positive language to describe what you did rather than just listing it.
Education and Qualifications
If you are a recent student or short on employment history then this is best placed above the Work Experience section. Again, use reverse chronological order to list your academic achievements and include the name of school or university attended with contact information and dates. You also need to list the subjects studied and qualifications obtained, however this need not be in full – be selective about which degree modules are relevant to the job, and summarise your GCSE grades (e.g. 9 GCSEs at grades A – C)
This could include computer programs, foreign languages or shorthand qualifications – always indicate your level. Focus primarily on skills that relate to the job in question and don’t just list them – explain them. For example don’t just claim to have “great communication skills” give examples (e.g. listening, interacting, working effectively in a team)
This is a chance to give your CV a more personal feel and to talk about any talents or passions outside of work. This can include anything from movies and music to gardening or Sudoku. Highlight any achievements without showing off, and keep it brief.
It is good to provide two references. At least one of these should be a recent employer. Never use a family member or friend – it must be objective. Provide full contact details for the references – you can always specify that references should not be contacted without permission. If you still don’t feel comfortable submitting references then you can just state that references are available on request.
TOP FIVE CV TIPS
- Be consistent. Decide on a font, style and layout and stick to it. A CV looks more professional and is easier to navigate if it is standardised throughout
- Don’t tell fibs! Although it may be tempting to make alterations to grades or lie about achievements it is important that all information is 100% accurate
- Let yourself shine. The potential employer will not know what you can do unless you tell them so include all relevant accomplishments and skills
- Check spelling and grammar – not doing so is likely to disprove some of the good things you say about yourself
- Be relevant. Keep your desired job in mind and try to relate to it where possible. Waffling for hours about irrelevant things will just bore the reader