Are you a recruiter?
Writing your CV (or curriculum vitae) can be a stressful task, and although there are no strict rules, it should be clearly formatted and easy for potential employers to scan at a glance. Your unique opportunity to sell yourself, it should include all your personal details, your education and career history, as well as listing the skills and achievements that make you the best person for the job.
Your CV is often the first thing a recruiter will read about you, so it’s essential that you present all the information they require in such a way that will inspire them to invite you to interview. A messy and confusing CV is more likely to be cast aside in favour of shorter, more succinct versions. Therefore, before you start, try to stick to two sides of A4 and choose a clear, professional font that is easy on the eye. The next step is to plan your section headings as follows, remembering to present the information in reverse chronological order, so your most recent experience and achievements will be at the top.
The first section of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should contain your name, address, email and contact phone number(s). There is no need to title your CV with ‘Curriculum Vitae’ – it is a waste of valuable space. Instead, treat your name as the title.
This short paragraph sits underneath your personal details and is one of the most important aspects of your CV, giving potential employers an overview of who you are and highlighting specific qualities that make your suitable for the role. It needs to be no longer than a few sentences, so less is more when it comes to your personal statement. If you can answer who you are, what you can offer the company and what your career goals are, then you have nailed it!
This section should include all your work experience and employment history, detailing your job title, the name of the company, time in post and your key responsibilities. Be sure to list the duties that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, and if you have many roles dating back over 10 years, it may be worth including only the latest most relevant information. If you have a gap in your career history, you should account for it accordingly. For example, you could write ‘overseas travel’ or ‘raising my family’.
Your educational experience should be listed in this section, including the name of the institution, the dates you were there, along with the qualifications and grades you achieved. If you have recently graduated from college or university, you may wish to include details of modules you completed. However, if you are further along in your professional career, it would be better to keep it simple.
It may strengthen your CV to highlight the skills and achievements that make you the most suitable candidate for the job, backing them up with examples. Specify how you would apply these to your new role. For example, speaking a foreign language would facilitate communication in a multilingual environment. Be sure to tell the truth at all times, as you will be expected to back up your claims at interview.
You don’t always need to include hobbies and interests in your CV, but mentioning relevant ones could help you stand out from the crowd if you feel that it is lacking. Avoid listing hobbies that don’t add value, such as reading, going to the cinema or socialising with friends. Instead, opt for examples such as writing a blog or being part of a drama group. These would be appropriate if you were applying for a journalist job or looking to get into sales, for instance.
Traditionally, these were included on the CV, but it is now viewed as unnecessary to provide the names of references at this stage.
Before you send off your CV, thoroughly check it over. This means reviewing your spelling and grammar very carefully. If a potential employer spots a glaring grammatical error, you will be unlikely to make it to the interview stage.