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CV Writing

The purpose of a CV is to tell a potential employer all about you, your skills and experience. Often it is the first opportunity you have to make an impression. The CV fulfills two main purposes; firstly, it includes your full factual educational achievements and employment history and explains your ability to perform the job for which you are applying; secondly, it is used to assess your potential for future success by evaluating your past successes. A CV provides an opportunity to present your work experience in a concise and marketable manner, and can be used as an important sales tool. Always remember that the aim of a CV is to get an interview for a specific job for which you have applied.

  • Keep the layout of the CV simple and consistent throughout.
  • Overall presentation of the CV is critical. These days more CVs are sent by e-mail than ever before, therefore you must consider how easy to read and visibly pleasing it is on the screen as well as on paper.
  • As a guideline a CV should be:
    1 - 3 pages if you have more than 5 years' experience
    1 - 2 pages if you have less than 5 years' experience
    (A CV should not be less than 1 page, as it will not give enough information to decide your suitability)
  • Attention to detail is vital in the presentation of a CV. Do not use block capitals. Use a word-processing rather than spreadsheet package, check spelling/grammar thoroughly, select fonts carefully and highlight/underline headings.
  • Contact details must be easily visible.
  • The most critical information and that which is most likely to get you an interview should be included on the first page.
  • Always show a positive attitude throughout the CV. Never use negative or doubtful phrases i.e. I will achieve.. as opposed to I hope to achieve..
  • Make sure your strongest, most positive statement is at the top of each section.
  • Tailor your CV to show connections and experiences relevant to the job, company, market and industry in which you are applying. If need be you should adapt it each time (not altering the facts) but using a change of emphasis.

Contact Details

This is best kept very brief and should include:

  • Full Name
  • Contact Address
  • Contact Telephone Numbers (only include work number if it is safe for you to be contacted there)
  • Contact E-mail addresses (only include work e-mail address if it is safe for you to be contacted there)
  • LinkedIn profile URL (list your experience and ask for recommendations)

Profile

This is a short summary focusing on key achievements to date and the qualities you can bring to a new position. State achievements using positive active verbs e.g. achieved, gained, managed, responsible for. This will show the value you have added to your present role and company. This is the easiest part of the CV to adapt to the specific requirements of the job, the company, the market and the industry for which you are applying.

Work Experience

List in reverse chronological order (your current job first) your employment history to date, including for each the following:

  • Name of Employer e.g. Hard Work Company Ltd
  • Job Title e.g. Assistant Liability Underwriter
  • Accurate Dates of Employment e.g. June 1997 to Present
  • Duties & Responsibilities

Where possible, quantify achievements in your previous roles e.g. sales targets, numbers of people responsible for, etc. It is worth emphasising technical knowledge related to the market or industry that is specifically relevant to the job. Include relevant specialist IT packages but avoid using jargon and slang.

Professional Qualifications

Only include if you have professional qualifications relevant to the job you are applying for. In addition you can include relevant professional bodies/associations that you are a member of, as this indicates your seriousness about pursuing your career in this field.

Education

List your educational achievements including subjects and grades in reverse chronological order including Universities/Colleges/Schools attended and the respective dates e.g.

1990 - 1993 Warwick University BA (Hon's) Business Studies 2:1
1988 - 1990 Northampton College A'level Maths A
  A'level Economics B
  A'level French C
  AS'level German A
  etc.

As a guideline include all GCSE subjects and grades if you are less than 25 years of age or have less than 2 years' work experience.

Language Skills

Only include if you are of a reasonable standard in a foreign language(s). If so state the language(s) and degree of fluency. Include English if you are a Non-English national and state your mother tongue e.g.

French Mother tongue
English Fluent
Spanish Semi-fluent

IT Skills

List all IT packages in which you are proficient, including industry specific and in-house systems, e.g. MS Word, MS Excel, PowerPoint, MS Office, e-mail packages

Personal Data

Include the following:

Nationality e.g. British
Preferred Location(s) e.g. London, willing to relocate

References

There is no need to list these on your CV but do acknowledge that they are "Available on Request". Please do make sure that they are available if requested and the people offered are aware that they are named as one of your references.

  • NEVER lie on your CV. The truth will come out at interview and you will have lost the job for sure.
  • You MUST NOT have typos, spelling or grammatical errors in your CV. Don't rely on the computer spell check. Read it through several times and get someone else to read it as well.
  • You MUST NOT type your CV in capital letters or in a spreadsheet format as both make the CV hard to read and potential employers will not take the trouble. Always make the CV simple and clear in a basic Word document.
  • You MUST NEVER attempt to use humour in a CV. A potential employer will assume you are not serious about the job.
  • You MUST NOT leave career gaps in your CV unexplained, always explain what you were doing at this time i.e. travelling, unemployed etc.
  • Don't use icons or try to be a designer.
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