What is a CV?
A CV (curriculum vitae) allows you to summarise your education, skills and experience, selling yourself to employers.
How long should a CV be?
A standard CV should be no longer than two sides of A4.
What to include in a CV
- Contact details - Include your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. Please make sure your email is sensible. Joebloggs@hotmail.co.uk is better than firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure that the phone number you list will accept calls from withheld numbers and if you get a call make sure you answer it.
- Personal statement - Placed at the beginning of the CV, a profile is a concise statement that highlights your key attributes or reasons for deciding to work in a particular field. Pick out a few relevant achievements and skills, while clearly articulating your career aims. You should keep it short and snappy - 100 words is the perfect length.
- Key skills - This is where you talk about the foreign languages you speak and the IT packages you can competently use. Whatever you list should be relevant to the job and not over-exaggerated, as you'll need to back up your claims at interview.
- Education - List and date all previous education, including professional qualifications, placing the most recent first. You should also include any qualifications you have yet to complete.
- Employment history – list your places of employment in reverse chronological order and outlining key responsibilities you held.
- Work experience - List your experience in reverse chronological order, making sure that anything you mention is relevant to the job you're applying for.
- References – You may want to write your references in full or you may wish to write ‘References available on request’. Please make sure you ask your referees before you give them to employers.
- Avoid fonts such as Comic Sans. Instead, choose something more professional such as size-10 Arial.
- List everything in reverse chronological order so the recruiter sees your most impressive and recent achievements first.
- Keep it concise and easy to read by using clear spacing and bullet points. This type of CV layout allows employers to skim your CV and quickly pick out the important information.
- If you're posting your CV, go with white A4 paper. Only print on one side and don't fold your CV - you don't want it to arrive creased.
How to write a good CV
- Use active verbs wherever possible. For example, you could include words like 'created', 'analysed' and 'devised' to present yourself as a person who shows initiative.
- There should be no spelling or grammar mistakes in your CV. Use a spell checker and enlist a second pair of eyes to check over it.
- Avoid using generic phrases such as 'team player', 'hardworking' and 'multitasker'. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.
- Take a look at the company's website, local press and the job advert to make sure that your CV is targeted to the role and employer.
- Don't put the term 'curriculum vitae' at the top of the page.
- Provide a professional-sounding email address.
- Never lie or exaggerate on your CV or job application. Not only will you demonstrate your dishonesty to a potential employer, but there can be serious consequences too.
- If you're posting your CV online don't include your home address, as you could be targeted by fraudsters.
- Use a template. By following a CV template you are not restricting the way in which you can express yourself, but you will find that your CV becomes easier to read and covers all the most important aspects of your work history.