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CVs explained

A CV, short for Curriculum Vitae, is a written summary of your skills, achievements and experience. You can use this to apply for jobs that you are interested in. Often, Employers will ask you to fill in an application form (either online or paper application) and your CV will accompany this application.

Why you use a CV
Usually, unless you already know the people you are applying to, your CV is the first impression that an employer (or recruitment teams working on behalf of the Employer) will have of you. This is why it is extremely important to dedicate time to ensure your CV is the best it can be and tailored for each job you apply for.

A good CV will get you an interview. You can use it to apply for advertised jobs, or you can introduce yourself directly to an Employer who you may have identified as someone you would like to work for.

The benefit of sending your CV direct to an Employer is that they may have unadvertised jobs and they may also like the fact that you have specifically targeted their organisation to work for.

Remember also to talk to people in your network. If you know of people in your social group who work in an area, or for an Employer you are interested in, do not be afraid to tell them you are looking, or ask them to keep an eye out on jobs for you. It is very common for people to find jobs through recommendations, before a job is advertised.

Writing a CV

How to start  
Pull together useful information like:

  • The job advert
  • The job description
  • Company details
  • Your qualifications and/or training evidence (e.g. certificates)
  • Details about your past jobs or volunteering experience

While it is a good idea to have a template CV prepared for your search, you should tailor this each time you apply for a new job. You should ensure that the experience that you bring out in your CV best reflects the skills and experience that the employer is seeking within the advert or job description. Basically, you want to give yourself the best chance of getting the job, so it is important to spend time getting your CV right each time you apply for a job.

CV layout
There are different CV styles, however our recommendation is to use the traditional CV style or chronological CV. This is where you list your work and education history, starting with the most recent.

Your finished document should be no more than 2-3 sides of A4 so it is important to make sure you include all of the relevant details for the role you are applying for.

What to include
There are some things that you need to put in your CV. You can change the order of these to suit your situation and the type of CV layout you want to use.

Contact details
You should include the following:

  • Your name at the top of your document - no need to add CV or curriculum vitae
  • Your full address and postcode
  • Telephone or mobile number - give the number you’re most likely to be available on during the working day
  • Email address - always use a professional sounding email address. You may want to create a separate email address to your personal email that is only for professional use.

Leave out details like your age, date of birth, marital status and nationality. These are not required.

If you have a profile on a professional social media site like LinkedIn, you can add a link to it on your CV.

Personal profile
This is a few short lines that summarise who you are, your experiences to date and what you are looking for. Think about what the Employer is looking for and how your experiences and goal match this.

Your education history
This section can be added after your personal profile or further down your CV after your work experience. Think about what will stand out. If you have qualifications that are relevant to the role, or that are impressive, you may want to have this after your personal profile. If you have less qualifications and more specific work experience for the job you are applying, you may wish to have this after your work experience section.

Whatever order you choose, you will need to give:

  • The names of your qualifications
  • The school, college or university where you studied
  • The dates you attended

Our recommendation is to have this in Chronological Order also, with your most recent education first.

Your work experience history
Include any work placements, volunteering as well as any paid jobs you have held. You will need to give the below details and it is extremely important that all of these are accurate, as it could affect you later if found to be inaccurate

  • The Employer name
  • The title of the position you held
  • The dates that you worked
  • A brief outline of what you did - usually 2 to 3 lines

After your brief outline, you may wish to include some bullet points on your main responsibilities and achievements if you think this will standout.

  • Use active words to highlight your strengths and skills for example, ‘organised’, ‘created’, ‘built’, ‘managed’ or ‘planned’.
  • Give positive examples of your achievements rather than just listing duties.
  • Give examples of skills you have developed or courses you have taken during the times where you were out of work.

If you are currently out of work and wish to enhance your CV by undertaking training, try visiting our Ready For Work  site under the “Get Ahead” section.

Hobbies, interests or achievements (including sports)
Use examples that show you have relevant skills for the job. This section is useful if you do not have much work experience. Often, Employers will look at sports achievements favourably as it can indicate that you are used to working in a team environment or you can dedicate yourself to a goal. If you captained a sporting team, list this, as it shows leadership experience.

Interests and hobbies are also useful to list as this tells the Employer about who you are as a person. It can help build rapport within an interview situation, particularly where the Hiring Manager may share that interest.

You can leave out the details of your references at this point. The Employer or Recruitment Agency will ask for these at the next stages of the process.

CV tips
Employers get lots of CVs to look at and have to decide quickly who they are going to interview. Here are some tips to make your CV stand out for all the right reasons.

When writing your CV remember:

  • Research the company and the job before you start writing your CV
  • Use clear lettering like Arial, or Calibri, size 11 - always use the same style throughout
  • Use headings, bullet points and spacing to break information up to make it easier to read
  • Keep it to 2-3 sides of A4
  • Be clear and to the point
  • Match the key words in the job description or advert. For example if they are looking for someone who can work “autonomously” and you have experience of working without much supervision, use the word autonomously in your CV to describe this
  • Run a spelling check before you save your final version to be sent and ask someone you trust to review your CV to make sure it makes sense to them
  • Save two copies of the CV
  • Always tell the truth in your CV. Expect to have references checked on the details of employment and for managers to delve deeper into the experience you have listed, asking for specific examples. So it is important that what you list is accurate and truthful

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