How to write a CV
What is a CV?
The words Curriculum Vitae literally mean “story of your life”. Your CV is a summary of your skills, accomplishments, experiences and education, designed to capture a prospective employer’s interest.
The importance of a CV cannot be over-estimated as it can:
- Get you an interview by intriguing a potential employer
- Encourage the interviewer to focus on your achievements
- Help you remember the key points that you want to emphasise at interviews
- Leave the interviewer with a clear reminder of what you could do for their organisation
You should ensure that your CV stands out from other CVs as this will ultimately increase your chance of being shortlisted for a job. It should be distinctive and professional so that it creates impact and interest.
Education & Qualifications
- Education qualifications/work experience should be presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent qualification/job and working backwards in time
- Provide start and end dates to include date, month and year
- If you are applying for a job requiring specific skills, tailor your CV to the position
- Check grammar and spelling. Spelling mistakes and poorly constructed sentences communicate negative impressions
- Send a few carefully tailored cvs, rather than numerous general cvs . This will produce far greater success
- Keep a careful note of the dates you send CVs to employers and make a polite follow up by telephone or letter if you do not get a reply within 10 – 14 days. This is likely to have the effect of emphasizing your continued interest and shows a business like approach
- Keep your CV up-to-date. Remember each new skill or experience makes you more valuable to future employers.
Presentation is Key
- Create an air of quality – you are being judged initially by your CV alone
- Always type your CV and use good quality paper, preferably white
- Do not use binders, covers or title pages, which add clutter
- Ensure that your CV works independently from a cover letter in case they become separated
- Try not to let your CV exceed 2 pages. No-one reads long CV’s
- Unless specified don’t include a photograph
- Present your details in a clear flowing style and be consistent throughout
- Keep in mind the needs of the employer who will be reading it
- Consider what they are looking for in a candidate and make it easy for the reader to pick out those skills
- Use common typefaces such as Calibri or Arial, keep the font size between 10 – 14 points and the font colour should always be black
- If you want to use bold typeface, save it for headings. Never incorporate graphics, shading, brackets, italics, underlining or columns and always send an original CV, never a photocopy.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a necessary business letter that accompanies your CV whether you post, email or fax your CV. Its purpose is to introduce your CV and to express your personality and enthusiasm for the position.
How to Write a Good Cover Letter
- Make sure that you type each letter using the same font and high quality paper as your CV
- Be brief and concise. The cover letter should not exceed more than one page in length
- Expand on your CV, rather than repeating the CV content
- Individualise and target each cover letter to the position you are applying for. Recruiters can spot a mass produced or general letter and will consider it unprofessional
- Address your letter to a specific person e.g. HR Manager. This should ensure speedy response
- Remember to sign and date your cover letter.