What is a CV?

A CV is a short list of facts about you and your work history, skills and experience.  A good CV is essential when looking for work and it is worth spending time getting it right so it sells you to an employer.

 
Your CV should:
Be neat – typed if possible and to the best standard you can achieve in content and layout
Be short – 2 sides of a sheet of A4 paper is normally enough
Be positive – it should emphasise your achievements, strengths, successes and how you have contributed to your employers making a profit (add figures to support facts whenever you can and use positive action words, for example ‘consulting’, ‘negotiating’, ‘managing’ and so on), and
Make a good impression.  This means presenting the facts about yourself in a clear and positive way.
 
How to use your CV
 
To apply to companies to see if they have any jobs available – you can send your CV with a covering letter or e-mail asking if they have any current or future vacancies in your trade.  You can find names and addresses of companies on websites, in newspapers or in trade or telephone directories.
To remind you what you’ve done – you can use your CV to help you remember all the dates and information each time you have to fill in a different application form.
To help with applications by phone – having your CV handy when applying for jobs by phone can help if you are asked to give more information about previous jobs.  
At interviews – having your CV with you while waiting to be called in can help you refresh your memory.  It is also handy to leave a copy with the interviewer if they do not already have one.
Registering with recruitment agencies – agencies may sometimes ask to see your CV before you can register with them.
 
What to include
 
There is no set format – how you present your CV is up to you.  However, you should include at least the following:
Your name
Your address
Your phone number
Your e-mail address (if you have one), and
Your career history – put your most recent job first and include dates.  Employers will be more interested in what you have done recently.  Don’t leave gaps between dates because employers will want to know what you did during these periods.  If you don’t have much work experience, you could include temporary, holiday, part-time or voluntary jobs too.  If you’ve had many different jobs, emphasise the skills and experience you have gained across those jobs (for example, skills in dealing with customers, or communication skills).
New laws on age discrimination mean that you do not need to put your date of birth or age on you CV.
 
Here are some examples you may want to include:
 
A personal profile – this is a short statement at the beginning of your CV to sell yourself – your skills, experience and personal qualities.  You could include positive words such as ‘competent’, ‘adaptable’ and ‘conscientious’.  You should also tailor the statement to the requirements of each job that you apply for, so that you make it clear to the employer that you’re the right person.
Achievements – mention things you did well in your past jobs which could be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Qualifications and training – include any qualifications and training from previous jobs (for example, training in health and safety or certificate in food hygiene).  Again, put the most recent first.  You can also include qualifications you got from school or college.
Interests – these can support your application if your hobbies and leisure activities highlight responsibilities and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.  Perhaps you belong to a club or society which you organise activities for, or you use leadership skills or teamwork as part of the activity.
Other information – it is up to you whether to include this, but it can be helpful if there are gaps in your CV.  If you had a career break because you were caring for children or elderly relatives, make this a positive thing and think about the skills you used doing this.  If the job you are applying for is different from what you have done in the past, explain why you are interested in the new type of work.  
References -  you may not want to include these details on your CV but it’s good to have 2 or more people who can provide a work or personal reference.  Ideally, one should be your most recent employer but if you haven’t worked for a while it could be someone who has known you for a long time who can comment on your qualities in relation to the job.  You should ask the person to agree this beforehand.
 
What should you leave out of your CV?
  1. Photos - the only people who need to include these are models, actors, actresses and possibly air cabin crew.
  2. Any sort of failure - exams, marriages, businesses, etc.
  3. Reasons for leaving each job.
  4. Salary information - this can only be used to reject your application. If an advertisement specifically requests this information you can always include the information in your cover letter.
  5. Fancy patterns/borders - these detract from your presentation
  6. Title pages, binders and folders are usually unnecessary and can be off-putting (though if you are doing a special presentation, enclosing your CV in a binder may look more impressive)
  7. Do not include a list of publications if you are a scientist, unless they are asked for.
  8. Leave out age (put in date of birth instead - but, even date of birth may not be required), weight, height, health, or any other personal information that is irrelevant to your application.
  9. Do not use poor quality photocopies of your CV - they make it look as though you are sending off your CV to lots of companies and that you may not be too bothered who you work for. 
 
Tip – ask a friend or relative to read through your CV to make sure it is accurate and that it shows your skills in a positive way.