CV Tips and Advice
Writing your CV seems like it should be an easy thing to do.
Writing your CV seems like it should be an easy thing to do. How tricky can it be to write down where you have worked and what you did when you were there?
But, in reality, it's far from straight forward. Writing your CV is an act of self-definition: it represents who you are in a work context and/or who you want to be. So how do you make sure your CV is saying the right things about you?
While the CV is a personal statement, it is primarily a business marketing document and therefore needs to be professional and positive in tone, content and presentation. Here are some tips on how you can achieve this:
Begin with a rough draft that includes all your experience, key achievements, projects etc. Use this stage in the process as a brainstorming exercise and write as many pages as you like!
The Master Document:
Remember there is no such thing as a final CV. Your CV is a continuously changing document depending on the direction you are taking in your career and the specific role you are applying for.
Keep it concise:
Once you have defined your experience after creating your first draft, you can begin to cut it down and highlight the important details. Your CV needs to be attention grabbing; a future employer should be able to glance through a CV in 3-5 seconds and have a very rough idea of your experience.
- CV's should be roughly 2-3 pages in length
- Ensure your margins are set to normal
- Avoid double spacing
- Ensure your experience is laid out in clear bullet points
- Stick to a simple font throughout the document eg. Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman with font size 11 for headings and 10 for the body
Start with the basics
Your CV should be headed with your name and full contact details. Make sure your email address or personal website is business appropriate!
Include a short profile outlining your long term objectives. This is the earliest opportunity on your CV to show you have exactly what a potential employer is looking for. Do you have any preferences for the type of work you want to undertake? (Don't be too restrictive. It is better to be general about your career aspirations at this stage)
Employment history should be presented in reverse chronological order, most recent first. Give dates, name of employer, job titles etc. (in bold) followed by bullet points outlining your duties in the following format:
Sept 2009 - Present, La Crème Recruitment, Dublin
- Screening a high volume of phone calls; liaising with clients
- Managing and updating the internal database with client and contact information
- Complex meeting coordination on behalf of senior management
The information included under each role you have had should not simply be a summary of your job description. Under each job, highlight activities you were involved in that relate directly to the job you are applying for.
Avoid waffle, be precise and use positive action words such as "initiated", "created" or “managed” to reinforce the message that you are an upbeat, "can-do" type of candidate. Wherever possible, try to quantify your achievements. For example, if you saved the department €5,000 by switching stationery suppliers.
Ensure relevant experience is included (where possible) on the first page of the CV. One big mistake that job seekers often make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions. If your earlier career history or extra-curricular experience is more relevant to the role you are applying for than your current role, use a heading like "relevant skills and experience" or "career achievements" to bring together the information and evidence. Make sure that this appears on the first page of your CV, usually before your employment history.
Include your Education History
List your most recent qualifications first including:
- Dates, institution - name of degree course etc
- Degree classification. It is not necessary to list all the modules you have studied
- Technical qualifications
- Achievements / Positions of responsibility
There is a huge difference between making the most of your experience and exaggerating or falsifying it. A falsified CV can be easily spotted by a recruiter or employer (if not immediately then certainly through the interview process), and if it doesn't prevent you from getting the job, it could cost you the job later on.
Many CVs have errors in them and are often rejected on that basis alone. Your CV must be impeccably presented if you want to demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail. Always print it out and ask someone else to check it over for you.