Preparing your Curriculum Vitae can seem like a daunting task, quite apart from what to put in and what to leave out; describing your own strengths and abilities isn’t easy. What we have tried to do with the following guidelines is to make the process much easier and ensure that you end up with a professional document which shows your skills and ensures you stand out, without going over the top. In the current climate, employers are looking to consistently improve on productivity and match prospective employee’s skills and experience with the job needs accurately. Help the employer to find you by keeping it short and simple, don’t dilute the message.
Presentation and layout
- Use an easy typeface and standardise the size of the text, and avoid writing too much in italics as it is hard to read quickly.
- The use of sub-headings in bold (e.g. personal profile, career history, etc) will help potential employers glean the information they require with ease.
- There should be clear spaces between category headings for easy clarification and definition.
- Your name, address and phone number(s) should form the start of the document.
- Commencing with your present or most recent employer, state your career history with your most recent first.
- If you are professionally-qualified or have very strong qualifications, list this at the top of your cv before your work experience.
Begin with a short profile of just a few lines about yourself and your abilities – give the reader a snapshot of the person you are and your skills. Be sure to keep it short and objective and write this in the first person.
Starting with your current or most recent employment provide details of each of your positions as follows:
- Job title
- Duration in the role
- The key tasks and responsibilities
- Notable achievements whilst in the role
- Quantify your experience with precise facts e.g. Managed 10 staff, handled department budget, prepared management reports
- Expand on the skills in your current job which are valuable in the position(s) for which you are applying
It is not normally necessary to state the reason why you’re are leaving your current position. This will be a topic for conversation at interview or in your letter of application. For all previous employment, ensure you use the same format, each time with bullet points for key responsibilities. Do not write a list of your skills at the top of your cv, it is far more interesting to employers to have this information in relation to each role, so they have strong 3D image of your profile.
Resist the temptation to make your CV too long, everyone is busy nowadays and you want to ensure employers can quickly hone in on the skills you have for the job. A good CV is no more than two A4 pages long, or three for very senior candidates. Be sure there are no gaps in your career history – unless for example you took a year out to travel or for personal reasons, in which case make this clear. If you had numerous student jobs which are not relevant, ensure you remove them.
Your primary objective is to convince the prospective employer that you have the skills, experience and hunger to do the
job. As every employer is different remember to customise your CV slightly if there is a role you are really interested in.
Remember – this is your opportunity to sell yourself. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression!