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Writing Your CV

In the pursuit of any career or role change, the CV is your most effective weapon.

All CVs act as a resume of skills, experience and relevance to the position in question, but not all CVs have the ability to engage the reader and really sell the benefits of a candidate’s abilities. Often, CVs are let down by some fairly simple errors, so here are a few tips on writing the perfect resume:

Objectives:

Your CV needs to do three things:

  • Detail your experience
  • Create a good first impression
  • Get you an interview

CVs should always be concise, direct and detailed – remember it is your personal marketing document, and an essential way to get your foot through the door.

Presentation

  • Double check all dates of qualifications and employment, including months and year accuracy and account for all gaps over 6 weeks
  • Make it easy to read by using bullets, tabs and bold text
  • Check for spelling and grammar - use a dictionary, not just the spellchecker on your computer
  • Choose an easy-to-read font like Arial or Times New Roman
  • Keep to the point, and don’t get lost in pointless digression
  • Aim to produce two pages and never more than three
  • It is sometimes an advantage to produce a separate addendum sheet, giving examples of the breadth of projects you have worked on.
  • You don’t need to put reasons for leaving each job but be ready to answer the question at interview
  • Decorative borders or photographs of yourself are not necessary.
  • Always use “I” rather than the third party
  • Don't' include salary details
  • Above all – check for mistakes!

Your personal details

A CV is also a contact mechanism, so don't forget to include the following information:

  • Name, address and contact phone numbers (home, work, mobile)
  • Nationality, and visa details if applicable
  • E-mail address

Your profile

One of the most important aspects of a CV, the profile is your opportunity to really sell yourself to a prospective employer. Use this section to highlight any specific qualities and abilities that you might have, along with any information that you think might make you more attractive and suitable for the role that you wish to pursue. Keep it short and sharp.

Education

Start with the most recent and work backwards. Remember to include all your qualifications, with grades and dates. If you have a lot of work experience, the education section doesn't need to be quite so detailed - for example, simply state how many GCSEs you have rather than list all the subjects and grades.

Professional qualifications & skills

List all your professional qualifications and relevant courses you have attended. It's also a good idea to state your knowledge of IT systems, as well as any foreign languages you speak and your level of fluency.

Employment history

Start with your current or most recent job. State the name of the company and the nature of its business. Include your job title and concisely describe your responsibilities, duties and main achievements. If you have extensive experience, keep your earlier jobs brief - it's your most recent role the interviewer will be most interested in.

If you've taken time out - for example to travel, or to bring up children – include this. Interviewers don't like to see gaps. If you've temped for a long time, or have changed jobs frequently, you should explain why.

Interests & hobbies

These tell an interviewer a bit more about your personality, and about how you as a person might fit into their company culture, so they are important to include.

References or referees

References are an essential part of the evaluation process. You can either provide the details of referees or choose to say: 'References available on request'.

Tailoring your CV for each interview

If you can clearly show a match between your skills and experience and the employer's needs, your chances of securing an interview will be greatly improved. Ask yourself:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What key elements did they ask for in the job description?
  • How specifically are you suited for this particular role and organisation?

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