In an ever-competitive job market, a CV is essentially your way of promoting yourself to an employer. It’s a way of telling them that you are the person for the job they are advertising, and saying “you need to employ me!”
One golden rule to remember when you’re looking for work is that you shouldn’t send the same generic CV for every job you apply for. You should try and tailor each copy to the job you are applying for, highlighting the skills that are most relevant to the post.
In short, your CV should be a summary of all your career and personal achievements. Your CV will need to include:
Your personal details
An introduction/personal statement
Work experience and career history
Hobbies and interests
At least two referees
Your personal details should include your name, address, phone numbers and email address. If you’ve moved house or changed your mobile telephone number recently, double check that you are giving employers the most up-to-date contact information. You don’t have to include your age and marital status if you do not want to.
After this you may want to include a personal profile or statement. This is a brief but concise introduction of yourself, and represents your key attributes and career aspirations. If you’re applying to a specific job, mention any experience you have had in that sector. Your introduction should be short and highlight anything that will make you stand out, as this is the first thing your interviewer will read.
Your education and qualifications can be documented next, and these should include your most recent qualifications first (such as a degree), then work backwards to your secondary school qualifications. You don’t need to include details of which infant and junior school you attended.
Underneath this you can begin writing about your work experience and career history. Begin with your most recent job first, clearly showing the length of time you worked in the job and and what your main job roles were. Include both unpaid and paid work – if there are gaps in your employment, be aware that you may be asked about the reasons for this at an interview.
If you have any hobbies, interests and personal skills that you feel are significant then briefly mention them towards the end of your CV. Focus on IT and communication skills and list which computer programmes you have experience in using. As you list your hobbies, think about what they say about you. For example, if you play sport, this shows you as a good team player. If you enjoy travel, it can demonstrate that you like to try new things and are independent.If driving is a requirement of the job, it’s wise to state you have a driving licence.
Finally, at least two referees should be included on a CV and ideally one of these should be your present or most recent employer. If you have not had a previous employer, both references will need to be character references. These cannot be from family members. One possibility would be to ask a teacher or a lecturer at university who can talk about the coursework you have produced and your commitment to the course.
Your CV should be no more than two A4 pages long and should be well spaced out so that it is easy to read. Make your headings stand out by using bold or italics and use a clear font no smaller than size 11.
Before you send your CV to any employers, print out a copy and ask a trusted friend or relative to check it over for you. They can check your spelling, grammar and punctuation and also spot typos that you may not necessarily see.
Many jobs today won’t accept just a CV as a means of applying for a job. If you are filling in an application form, there is no harm in sending your CV in with the form as well, as long as you don’t send in just the CV and no application form. Always include a covering letter with your application.
If you do not want your current employer to be contacted until after an interview stage, it’s wise to mention this in the cover letter or application form that you send out with your CV.
Good luck with your job search!