CV Writing

Presentation

  • This may sound patronising but always type your CV. When you’ve typed it, proof-read it.  When you think you’ve proof-read it, PROOF-READ IT AGAIN.  You would be astonished how many typos slip through the net.  They won’t slip through your interviewer’s net.
  • Ask someone whose advice and writing ability you trust to read it.
  • Double-check all dates and qualifications.
  • Keep it simple – use bullets, tabs and bold to make it easy to read.
  • Keep it short and if you cannot keep it short, keep it succinct. Summarise each role you’ve had rather than writing a thesis.  Give the impression of a tidy, ordered mind.
  • Avoid using computer graphics, photos and other distractions.
  • Choose a clear font such as Arial, no smaller than 11pt.
  • Print it on good quality paper and consider using a colour other than white: it will be easier to pick out of a pile.

Length of a CV

Your CV should be clear and concise, limit it to two pages. Employers simply won’t have time to read page after page of your achievements, particularly if they are reviewing multiple C.V.s.  They will probably have a method of scanning content, thus it is better to frame the narrative of your experience in short, punchy sentences.

Personal details

  • Include your name, postal & email address and contact telephone numbers (home, work, mobile).
  • Specify nationality and visa details, if applicable.

Education qualifications

Listed chronologically, detail school and university/college qualifications, including grades and dates.  If you won any medals, prizes or distinctions, by all means put them in.  Equally, if you received bursaries, scholarships or other awards, your potential employer would like to know.

If you have an extensive work history and have advanced in your career well beyond the scope of your academic or professional education, there is no need to give too many details on your educational background and it is preferable to list it after your employment history. On the other hand, if you are looking for your first job, your education will be extremely important.

Professional qualifications and skills

State all professional qualifications and recent courses attended.

Additionally, specify your IT skills, foreign languages and any other skills of interest with your relevant level of proficiency.  Be careful not to describe yourself as, for instance, “fluent in French” if you are not ready to deal with a question in French at interview.

Employment history

Begin with your current/most recent position, including the name of the company and nature of the business.

State your job title and the dates you were employed. Describe your responsibilities, duties and main achievements. If you are using examples, be precise and quantify them with facts and figures.  Remember, the likelihood is that your last role is what an employer is most interested in so take great care in how you structure the narrative and have it leap off the page.

Don’t leave any employment gaps.  If there are gaps in your employment, make sure you have accounted for missing time.  If you have switched jobs frequently, try to set out the basis for each change (such as a project coming to an end).  If the gaps in your employment history are due to travelling, stress the formative nature of the travel and, unless it is a short-term role you are seeking, consider how to imply that you will not be resigning after a year to go travelling again.

Personal interests

Be specific. Your interests say something about your personality. Rather than simply saying “Hockey” you could expand and say that you play for a local team and you were club treasurer for the season. Be prepared to answer questions on your interests.  If you have no interests, don’t pretend that you do!  It is not necessary to regale your employer with the richness of your social life, merely to suggest that you are a reasonably rounded person.

References

There is no need to include referees on your CV, simply write ‘References available on request’. Should they be asked for, provide references to cover the previous five years.

 

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