The purpose of a CV is to explain to the reader clearly and simply what you have achieved through your education, and work and life experience to date.
A CV should be presented to an agency or employer with a covering letter or e-mail, which clearly explains the purpose of your communication, and which, together outline what you can offer them either in relation to a particular job vacancy, or other vacancies or opportunities which they may be handling in the future.
The covering letter or e-mail is an essential part of this total document, should summarise the very essence of your contribution and encourage the reader to read your CV with anticipation!
It should be a well-presented source of information about yourself - but remember that you are trying to get interviews, so aim to impress!
The CV is no place for modesty - It is also very definitely no place for dishonesty!
A Few Guidelines
- You may want to adjust your CV according to the organisation to which it is being sent, and different jobs for which you may be applying. Different jobs require different skills, and the way you write your CV can highlight the appropriate areas, and make it easier for the recruiter to identify the key points that he or she may be seeking.
- Try to make your CV no more than 2 pages long - more than this can frustrate the reader, who most likely has dozens, maybe hundreds, to read.
- If appropriate, attach a separate document to outline e.g. particular IT skills, or main projects in which you have been involved.
- Ensure you list all of your contact details (preferably on the first page) so that you are easily contactable by the recruiter or potential employer.
- Give titles to the different sections in your CV, such as Personal Details, Summary, Key Skills, Education & Training, Employment, Interests.
- Your Employment History should start with your most recent job and go backwards from there.
- Unless the companies you have worked with are particularly well known , underneath Company Name, consider providing a one line description of the company in Brackets e.g. (Telecomms provider, 1500 staff, £35M T/O).
- Under each Job within each of your employers, identify your Principal Accountabilities or Achievements. This is not intended to be a photocopy of your Job Description!
- Spell Principal correctly! - Principal Accountabilities is not spelt Principle!!!.
- Do not include irrelevant, long winded or unnecessary information.
Building your CV
In whichever way you choose to construct it, you will need to cover your:
- Personal Details
- Contact Details
- Career Summary
- Principal Achievements
- Employment History
- Education, Training & Qualifications
Creating a good quality CV is a challenging task and overall the best advice we can give you is that when you are proud of your CV it is probably OK, until you are, it is probably not!
If you are applying for an advertised vacancy, ask yourself whether your CV does actually and realistically qualify you for the position you are applying for?
Have you included all of your relevant personal, training, education, skills, experience and career details?
Are you sure that you have included all the elements of your background which clearly indicate that you meet the needs of your potential employer?
Taken together, do your CV and covering letter fairly and fully represent, and clearly demonstrate, the background, knowledge, skills and experience which make you suitable for this role, and worthy of further consideration at the next stage of the selection process?
- If you are presenting a hard copy CV use good quality paper. The standard for both your CV and covering letter is white, and we would be cautious about trying to be noticed by using a different, or bolder colour.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to the point - it's quality not quantity that counts.
- Type size should be no less than 11 point. Fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman are the normal standard.
- Double check for typos and obviously poor grammar as this can rule you out of consideration for a job immediately - and it happens all the time!
- The heading at the top of your first page should be your name. Place it in the centre of the page, use a larger size print than the rest of the text, and make it bold type.
- It is often a good idea to have your name recorded on each page of your CV, in case it becomes separated from the front page. A good place for this is on a footer, at the bottom of the page. Contact Details
- To avoid wasting space, type your address in a line below your name, with street name, town and so on separated by commas.
- All possible telephone numbers should be given, i.e. home, mobile, work. If you do not want to be contacted at work, you may either omit the number altogether or put a note next to it that discretion is required with this number.
- Give from/to dates of employment in either the left-hand or right-hand margin, and only quote the year.
- Give the name of the organisation and it's location (no address is needed, just the town name). If possible, add a brief summary of the company's industry and annual turnover. The reader is then more aware of your previous experience.
- Underneath your job title, include a statement of what you did, the responsibilities you had, any particular projects you undertook, and particularly, your notable achievements in each role. However, be very selective about the information you provide here. This is not an essay, and remember that you are still trying to contain your whole CV to 2 pages.
- List your individual achievements, with a brief description of the quantitative/qualitative results that they brought about. Bullet points can be used to effectively separate achievements.
- If you worked for the same organisation for a number of years, try to divide the period into separate positions and roles that you undertook.
- An indication of current, latest, or required minimum salary is preferable on your covering letter or email, but salary levels and reason for leaving individual jobs are not required on your CV.
Training and Skills Development
- This section should cover courses, training days, and development areas from your employment history.
- Only list the events that add value to your CV - be careful not to include irrelevant information.
- Include the following details:
- event title
- duration of course etc
- external or internal training (if external, name the provider)
Qualifications and Education
- List in reverse chronological order.
- State the qualification gained, the name of the establishment and the date you gained it.
- A-level/GCSE grades can be listed, but it is not entirely essential.
- If you are currently studying for something, put it at the top of the list and the state the date you expect to gain the qualification.
The range of personal details given by candidates may include the following:
- Date of Birth - It is down to the individual whether or not to state date of birth - education details will often give a rough guideline to your age anyway
- Nationality - where relevant, it will also be important to state your eligibility for employment in the country in which the job is located, or the nature and status of any visas as these may relate to your eligibility for employment.
- Full driver's licence
- Willing to relocate
- Hobbies and other interests are often included - wherever possible, add details of interests that show a range of activities.
Before you commit someone to being a referee for you, you need to ask them first. The most standard format on a CV is to write that "Referees are available on request". You do not normally disclose the identity of your referees until a later date.
Tell your referee(s) which job it is you are applying for, and what it would entail. That way they can mould their reference to the skills that the employer will be looking for, and a more relevant discussion will be able to take place.
If you are actively trying to change your career direction, it is good idea to summarise the direction you wish to take and why that is so. Any qualifications or training that support your decision to redirect should be included here.
The only possible difference these days between a hard copy CV and one that may be submitted via a jobsite or e-mail is that online CVs might be shorter. Recruiters can easily ask for more details if they require them. The simplest text is plain text format as it can be read by all computers.
If you apply to an online recruitment company (such as ourselves), the CVs will often be searched by keywords. Therefore, aim to include words and phrases that are relevant to your skill set, experience and industry sector.
Avoid sending your CV as a mailshot - a personalised approach is more effective.