Writing a CV is supposed to be easy enough but if you have not done it for a while or not done it at all then the task ahead might be bit daunting.
How to Write a Good CV
CVs will vary from one person to another and also from one industry to another. People that apply for the same job may have come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, and different industries will have different standards, so you will never find two CVs that are identical. For example, someone that has just finished high school will have a very different CV than someone who has had ten years of work experience. Likewise, someone applying for an office job will have a different CV than someone applying for a plumbing job.
Although CVs will vary from person to person and industry to industry, here is a general guide that will give you an idea how to set out a CV and you can modify these ideas to suit your specific requirements.
What Information Should You Include on Your CV?
The information that goes into Curriculum Vitae is influenced by the job it is targeted for. However, experts suggest there are some basic rules on how a CV should be written and the information that should be included.
- Full name
- Home telephone number
- Mobile number
- Email address
Include only if that would be relevant or helpful for the job position you are applying for:
- Date of birth
- Marital status and family
- Driving license detail
Summary Statement or an Objective?
A summary statement may also be called a profile statement and is just a short statement that summarizes your experience and skills. The summary statement should include things that you can offer the particular job you are applying for and should highlight your strengths, skills and experience that makes you unique as a good candidate for this job. Basically, your summary statement should sell yourself to a prospective employer.
The summary statement is the first impression on the potential employer so make it count. It should only be around 60 words and should summarize exactly what you can do for them to be the ideal candidate for the job.
When writing your summary statement, you should mention your qualities that relate to skills required for this position as outlined in the job advert. You need to let them know what your skills are and how those skills can benefit their company. Point out skills such as good time management, good communication or working well in a team.
If you are applying for an office job then you will want to talk about your skills that would be appropriate for this type of job. You can write that you have good organizational skills and great attention to detail. Talk about any experience you have had working in an office and how your experience and knowledge will prove valuable for this role.
If you are applying for a customer service job then you will want to mention any experience or skills that would benefit this type of job. If you have had any customer service experience, experience in a call centre or a sales role, then make sure you talk about that and how it will help you in this role. Other skills that may benefit a customer service position are good communication skills, confidence, good manners, flexibility and being service orientated.
You may choose to include an Objective on your Curriculum Vitae instead of a Summary Statement. A summary statement lets the potential employer know what value you can add to their business. An objective lets the potential employer know what your goals are what you want from this job and that you already have some experience within this field that you will use, not only to fulfil your goals but to benefit their organization.
When applying for a customer service role your objective could state that you are applying for this position where you know that your experience, knowledge and skills will be valued. You can state what your ideal role would be and how you gain satisfaction from providing customer service and maintaining customer loyalty.
If you are not applying for any one specific role, but are handing out your CV to a number of companies for various roles, you may write a more general objective saying that you are looking to secure a challenging position that offers opportunities to expand your career further.
Either option of objective or summary statement can work well, although summary statements do seem to be more popular.
You should include your educational qualifications on your CV. Include the schools or colleges you attended, the titles of courses completed and completion dates.
Always list your educational history in reverse chronological order.
You may only want to include educational qualifications that are relevant to the position that you are applying for.
Your CV should include any work experience that you have gained, particularly any experience that relates to the job you are applying for. List your work experience in reverse chronological order.
The section outlining your work experience may be the most valuable part of your CV so spend some time on this section making sure that you include all relevant details.
It is worthwhile to include any training courses that you have undertaken either during your own time or while employed in a previous job. The amount of information you give regarding training courses will depend on the job you are applying for and how much the training will benefit that position.
List any skills that you have that are appropriate to the job you are applying for. You can include skills such as:
- Computer skills
- Writing skills
- Sales skills
- Language skills
- Any professional bodies that you hold a membership to.
You can list each of your skills and then expand on them a little. For computer skills you can mention any computer programs that you are efficient in. For language skills you can list the languages you speak and how fluent you are in those languages.
Hobbies and Interests
Some people will include their hobbies or interests in their CVs such as reading, gardening, yoga or travelling. However, in recent times it is becoming less popular to include this information as most employers are only interested in how you can benefit their organization in this job role, rather than how you spend your weekends.
Most potential employers will want to contact your previous employer to find out if you are trustworthy, reliable and a good worker. You should include the name, title and contact information for two or three people who have agreed to be a reference for you.
2012 CV Trends
- Keep your CV clean and simple. Present your information quickly, accurately and powerfully.
- Keep your CV short and sweet. Many years ago CV’s would be incredibly long, listing every little detail of every qualification and experience a candidate has had throughout their life. These days, employers are only interested in the qualifications and experience that will benefit you for the position they are advertising. You only need to include details that are relevant to the position you are applying for and only include experience you have gained over the last 10 years.
- Make your CV relevant to the job. When employers are selecting potential job candidates from all the applications they receive, they will be looking for the CV’s that are most relevant to the position being advertised. You must sell yourself to the employer and let them know why you are the perfect person for the job. Let the employer know how you can be an asset to their company.
- Be specific. Include any statistics that you can provide that will show your capabilities and how you are qualified for this position. For example, if you are applying for a sales position you can include a statement such as “I increased sales by 30% through a marketing campaign”. Stating that you increased sales by 30% portrays your skill better than just saying in general that you increased sales. Mention the methods that you used to increase sales in your previous position.
Using a CV Template
CV templates can be incredibly helpful when writing a CV. There are many CV templates available and you should be able to find one that is targeted to the type of job you are applying for. You can change a template to suit your requirements and make it more unique to you. The template will give you an idea of how to get the best layout for your CV.
Always type your CV and print on good quality white paper. Use a paper size of A4 – 21cm wide and 29.7 high.
Margins on top, bottom, left and right should all be two centimetres.
Use only one font style throughout your CV and a font size of 12 is a good choice. Make use of italics and bold to emphasise words that are important. Do not underline words throughout paragraphs, only underline section titles.
Only print on one side of the paper, never use double sides.
If folding your CV, only fold once and always include a Stamped Self Addressed Envelope.
To make your CV look clean and simple, use bullet points rather than paragraphs.
Paragraphs are fine to use in your profile section but it is best to use bullet points throughout your CV. When you use bullet points, the employer will be able to identify the main points of your CV with a quick scan.
Don’t try to be fancy by using fancy colours in your CV. Always stick to black or blue in for printing your CV. Use black or blue in even when you are using bold, italics or highlighting specific points. If you are applying for a creative job in advertising, copywriting or any other creative job, then you may want to be a little more artistic with your CV.
Emailing a CV
The internet has made applying for a job much faster and easier by making it possible to email your CV to potential employers. The ability to email your CV makes it even more important to make a good first impression. With internet recruiting, employers will most likely receive more applications for jobs so it is important that your CV makes an impression and shows your abilities simply and easily.
When sending a CV via email you can either send it in txt format or as a Word document. Txt files can be read by most computers so is a safe option, but it doesn’t allow you to have a good layout. Most offices will have an application that will read Word documents so this is often the best choice.
If you are applying for a job in the design industry or have a creative CV then you may want to send your CV in PDF format. To cover all bases, you could attach your CV in Word or PDF format and also copy a txt version into the body of the email.
Things You Should NOT Include In Your CV
- Do not include bad grades
- Do not include any negative work experiences
- Do not include anything critical
- Do not include your photograph, only if requested or relevant
- Do not include personal health information or your disabilities if any
- Do not include any information regarding your children
- Do not include trade union or your political affiliations
- Do not include your current salary or your expected salary
- Do not include any humour
- Do not include information that is older than 10 years
- Do not include your sexual preferences
- Do not include your religion
- Do not include reasons for leaving previous employment
- Do not lie
Your Curriculum Vitae will give the first impression of you to any potential employer. Don’t rush creating your CV, spend time to get it right and make sure that it is a good representation of you, your experience and also skills you have. Cater your CV to the requirements of the job you are applying for so that when a potential employer reads it, they will see that you are the ideal candidate for the job.
Keep your CV updated to include all your recent experience and skills gained and also to make sure that it is up to date with the latest CV trends.