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How to Write a CV: A Step-by-Step Guide for Success

Follow this complete guide to learn how to write a great CV.



What is a CV?

'CV’ is short for ‘Curriculum Vitae’, a Latin phrase meaning literally, ‘course of life’. It should be a brief account of your education, qualifications, and previous employment. This is how you present yourself to the outside world, the world of work. It is a form of personal marketing, so make sure when you write your CV that it shows you in the best light possible.


What should I include in my CV?

Name, Contact Details & Location

You don’t need to include the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as your heading; the title of your CV, instead should be your name, professional title and contact details – anything else is just a waste of space.


What contact details should I provide?

Your email address & phone number should be included.

You don't need to put your full address, but do include your town, city or county.


Do not include your gender, marital status or date of birth.

Feel free to include links to any professional profiles, such as LinkedIn.


What about a photo?

Only include a photo if a particular physical appearance is needed for the job. Including it when not needed might introduce bias into the recruitment process.

Professional Summary

Recruiters typically tend to decide whether to continue reading a CV within the first 6 seconds. The professional profile is your chance to put your key points right at the top of the CV.

Try to keep it brief (2-3 sentences) and tailor it to the role you are applying to.


Skills

Aim to list between 6 -14 of your key skills. Use bullet points to make them easy to read. List skills that you think make you a great candidate for the role you are applying to. Include soft-skills (personal qualities) and hard-skills (something you have learnt).

Example soft-skills:

- Analytical

- Compassionate

- Creative

- Dependable

- Proactive

- Team Player


Example hard-skills:

- Excel

- Invoicing

- Coaching

- SQL

- Risk Management

- SEO


Check out our full list if skills to include in your CV.


TIP: Most job adverts state which skills or requirements they are looking for from candidates. If you have any of these skills then make sure you list them in your CV before applying to that job.



Work History


This is the section where you can really showcase your experience.


List your previous (and current jobs) in reverse chronological order - that is, most recent first.


Each item should showcase:


Employer name, job title, employment dates, along with a summary of your key responsibilities and achievements.


Use bullet points to make it easy to read and include more detail on your most recent job and scale back as you go back in time.


You don't need to list every job. Typically people include the last 4 jobs or 10 years of experience (which ever comes first).



Education & Qualifications


Again, these appear in reverse chronological order. Each item should include:


Institution Name - Dates Attended Qualification - Grade(s)


In this section you can also list any formal qualifications too.


How much detail should I go into to?

It really depends on how much work experience you have... If you have just left education then this should be the most detailed section of your CV and you should including your grades, modules and examples of projects.


Example for someone who has just left education:






However if you have more work experience then it's typical to provide a briefer summary.




Top tip: If you have recently graduated school/college/university (and you have limited relevant work experience) then put the Education section above your Work History. A CV is all about selling yourself so put the most enticing information higher up the page.



Hobbies & Interests


This is your chance to showcase part of your personality. Keep this section short and list a few of your hobbies & interests. For example:

Outside of work James enjoys playing football, building websites and raising money for charities by running marathons.


Don't worry if you don't think you have really interesting hobbies, just give you your potential employer a bit of an insight into your personality and what you enjoy doing.


References

You don't need to list your references in your CV. Just simply say:




DOs

  • Keep it to 1 or 2 pages

  • Use bullet points

  • Use a professional font (Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman)

  • Tailor your CV for each job you apply to

  • Review for spelling mistakes

  • Submit it as a Word or PDF file


DONTs

  • Include your photo (unless it's relevant for the role e.g. model or actor)

  • Include any personal information which is not relevant to the role (date of birth, gender, marital status, religious or political views)

  • Use more than 2 pages

  • Include irrelevant information. Focus on recent experience (rather than a job you were doing 15 years ago).

  • Save your CV as an image, movie or PowerPoint presentation. Recruiters use technology to scan through CVs which work best with Word docs of PDFs.


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