Writing a CV

The Latin translation for Curriculum Vita (CV) is the course of life. It’s a summary of your experience, skills, and education. Here’s where to start, what to include and how to structure it…

What to include:

1. Contact details – include full name, address, mobile phone number and email address

2. Work experience – this is previous jobs, internships, or voluntary roles. Add the most recent/relevant positions and examples of tasks you completed whilst in those roles, again include relevant tasks

3. Education – list and date all education, placing the most recent highest up the page. Include any professional qualifications too

4. Skills – for example, the ability to work in a team, manage people, customer service skills, or specific IT skills

5. Referees – two people who can provide positive comments on your previous employment or experiences. For this part, you can just include the phrasing ‘references available on request

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How to write the content:

1. Avoid telling your life story

The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview for a role (job), so put into it what you think will help you stand out, and make sure you have salient points highlighted in a cover letter. Avoid writing your entire life history, leave something to talk about in the interview, if they are interested in more details they can always ask.

2. Fluffy detail

When deciding what to include in your CV, make points that show what is important, not lots of fluffy detail. For example: if you worked in a bar for 12 months, the most valuable part might be that they trusted you to do the cashing up at the end of the day… so mention that. The fact that you cleaned all the glasses every day and changed the beer barrels over is probably less valuable to your prospective employer. Being trusted with money and important processes are likely to be more valuable to future roles.

3. Show progression

As you list out the previous roles and responsibilities, try and show progression with the responsibility that you had and try and find different things talk about, there is no point in repeating the same skills if you can avoid it.

4. Research

Research your target company and find their values, most companies have a website or a company report that will call out some of these ideals. Try and use some of their languages and if possible connect your experience to their company values.

5. Second set of eyes

Get somebody else to read/edit your CV, its very human to be humble about some of your qualities and also some things that seem natural to you are actually very important to a future employer, other people close to you are more likely to be able to point these out.

6. Length

Try and keep the overall CV to a couple of A4 pages, so that its easy to read and easy to see what you are good at. You may edit them for each job to match to different values in target companies, but make sure you read it carefully before you interview so you know exactly what picture you have presented to that company.