Almost everyone hoping to get employment will need to supply a CV as their first step. It is generally seen as the most important part of getting a job since it is the first part of you that a prospective employer will see. This is a crucial part of any career that schools usually fail to teach students, so let’s take it back to basics.
- CV stands for Curriculum Vitae which literally means “courses of life” – already it is quite clear what a CV should present to the reader
- It should be around a page long and definitely no more than two pages
- Use a familiar and easy-to-read font like Times New Roman, Verdana or Arial
- There can be absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors – have someone else read through your CV and double check for you
- Most online applications ask you to supply your CV as a Word document or PDF
Best practice is to have your first and last names at the very top with your contact details (home address, phone number and email address) underneath. Then it should go in the following order:
- Personal statement
- Key skills
- Work experience (if you have any)
- Education and qualifications
- Personal interests
This should be a short, one or two sentences, summary about yourself, how you would fit in the role and why you think you are perfect for it. Preferably a separate statement should be written for each job you apply for to suit it perfectly.
If you are a school leaver you might not have a lot of work experience, or any at all for that matter, so the focus should be on your key skills. These shouldn’t just be any skills you have but should be relevant for the job. Examples could be presentation skills, interpersonal skills, IT skills, et cetera.
If you have any work experience that would make you perfect for this job, outline it here. This section should be in reverse chronological order, going from your most recent job to your first, and should include your title, the company name, the time you worked there and a brief outline of what your tasks were.
Education and qualifications
Generally, this should be from GCSE level, again in reverse chronological order. Include the courses you took and the grades you received, which school or schools you attended and during which times. Ideally one or a few should be relevant to the job you are hoping to get.
When you don’t have a large amount of work experience this section can be very beneficial as it shows a bit about who you are as a person. Outline what you enjoy doing in your free time, staying away from generic interests such as socialising or listening to music, but never make anything up in order to sound more interesting. You might be asked to talk about your hobbies in the interview and it will be quite clear if you know nothing about them. If your hobbies or interests should happen to be in line with the job you’re applying for, for example enjoying time on the computer when applying for an IT role, highlight this.
Writing a CV can be time-consuming, boring and difficult but try to keep it simple and remember that this is how your career will begin. This will be the first impression your potential future employers will get of you – don’t you want to look good?