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CV Hints & Tips

CV Hints & Tips

Your CV is a critical tool in your efforts to find that perfect job.

It is that 'key in the door' unlocking your chance to go for an interview and convince a potential employer that you are the right person for the job. Before writing your CV, it is important that you think carefully about the overall impression your CV will have on the reader and consider not only what to include but also what is unnecessary. It is often impossible to include all skills gained, every responsibility or each achievement from every job you have ever had on your CV; so you need to think about selecting what is most relevant for the employer or type of employer you are applying to.
Your CV needs to contain certain core sections
  • Employment History
  • Skills
  • Education and Qualifications
  • Personal Details
You may also wish to include optional information such as a Summary, Profile or Interests. There are two main ways to layout a CV and the one you chose will depend on the amount of employment experience you have gained so far as well as the relevance of your career history to the role you are applying for. Please see our CV Template section to view some sample CV's. If you have little work experience, or your experience has been summer work while in college, you might like to consider a skills-based CV. This is where the Skills section takes up the major part of the document, drawing out all your transferable skills and the Employment History is a minor chronological listing near the end.
This approach works best where you have a clear idea of the role you are applying for so you can tailor the skills you highlight to those necessary to carry out the job. Where you have gained more significant employment experience, in areas relevant to the roles you wish to apply for, a reverse chronological CV is the best approach

Specific Hints:

There are some clear do's and don'ts to bear in mind when it comes to putting pen to paper:

Do:
  • Chose a clear layout; stick to one font, use bold or variations of font size for emphasis Use professional language, with 'doing words' starting your sentences (managed x, used y, led z, researched a, etc)
  • Include clear headings, using bold to highlight employer's names and job titles
  • Put your key skills or most recent work experience near the top of the first page
  • Allocate the most space and detail to your most recent or most relevant work experience
  • Make sure your education and work history are both in reverse chronological order (i.e. with most recent first)
  • Include continuing professional development and training in your Education and Qualifications section
  • Include major duties and responsibilities most relevant to the job you are applying for
  • Also include achievements in each of your jobs
  • Indicate different jobs at one employer in separate sub-sections to highlight promotions
  • Keep in mind at all times the needs and expectations of the employer or type of employer you are writing the CV for
Don't:
  • Take up most of the first page with your personal and contact details and education (unless you are a recent graduate)
  • Over use the first person (I did.., I managed, etc)
  • Try and squeeze everything onto one page, it will just look cramped. Don't be afraid to use white space
  • Give so much space to dates and job titles that the actual description of each job is squeezed up in a small column
  • Just list your employment history without details of the content of each job
  • Expect the reader to know what your employer does (unless it is very well known) - include a one line description of the business
  • Write a long paragraph on your hobbies and interests which outweighs the space given to your work history
  • Use separate sections for your career history (company name, dates, job title) and work experience (duties and achievements) as it is too confusing to read and employers need to know which experience was gained where.
  • Write the detailed information about each job in one long, uninterrupted, boring paragraph - use bullet points
  • Thoughtlessly list a bland range of hobbies (reading, cinema, eating out, socialising)
  • Write a Profile section which is obviously culled from a cliched 'positive words and phrases' book
  • List all your Secondary Level qualifications in full
  • Write your references out in full on your CV (just put 'available on request')
  • Include details of your marital status, spouse, children, dog.
  • Under recent legislation regarding age discrimination we strongly advise that you do not include your date of birth on your CV.

Above all remember to keep your CV up-to-date. How awful it would be to miss the perfect job, just because you didn't have time to write a CV. Be aware that the minute you finish it and print it out it will be out of date. Something always needs changing. Be aware of the progress you have made.

It is fair to say that everyone has a different view on ‘the perfect CV', however you should try and get your CV (which is after all your personal marketing and sales literature) to the stage where you feel good about it and confident you will get an interview when using it. If in doubt, or if you need further help, then ask us for help. We know that every CV is different, because every person is different and we can help you create and maintain the best CV for you!
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