Writing a CV
Your CV needs to be:
- Clear - make the easily understood straight away.
- Concise - you shouldn't give irrelevant information.
- Well laid out - so information can be quickly found.
To achieve this:
- Use clear headings to separate the sections of your CV.
- Use bullet points rather than writing paragraphs or long sentences.
- Keep the CV short - preferably no more than two sides of A4.
- Your CV advertises yourself.
- Don't overlook your skills and experience
- Put the strongest statements at the top
- Add a short personal statement to summarise your strengths
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Sentences should be between 15-20 words and paragraphs should be no more than 10 lines.
- Use bullet points for clarity
- Detail fully your achievements
- Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation
- Do not use 'I' - it is implied throughout
- Do not include hobbies or social interests unless they are related to your current job target
- Don't include pictures, salary information or other personal information, for example, sex, weight, height.
- Don't try and be funny, or write in verse or use coloured paper
- Your CV should be no longer than two sides of A4 paper
This type of CV highlights major areas of accomplishment and strength, and allows you to organise these in the order that best supports your work objectives and job targets.
- Use four or five paragraphs or sections, each one highlighting an area of expertise or involvement. List functions, in order of importance with the area most closely related to your job target at the top and described in more detail.
- For each area, stress your accomplishments, results or abilities most directly related to your job target.
- Include accomplishment without identifying the employment or non-employment situation in which it took place.
- You most recent courses or degrees go at the top, otherwise education should be listed at the bottom.
- Summarise work experience at the bottom, giving dates, employer, and job title. If you've had little or no work experience, leave out the employment summary (but talk about it at the interview).
This type of CV focuses on a clear, specific job target, listing appropriate capabilities and supporting accomplishments. Each job target requires a different CV.
- You must be clear and specific about your job target, the title or occupational field you want to pursue.
- Capabilities and accomplishments must be one or two lines each and must be related to your job target.
- capabilities should answer the question: 'What can you do?'
- Accomplishments should answer the question: 'What have you done?'.
- Experience and education are included, but are not the focus - they support the overall impression conveyed by the CV.
This type of CV emphasises work experience and personal history. This CV communicates that you are experienced and established in one career area.
- Start with your most recent position and work back in time, giving the most space to recent employment. Detail the last four or five jobs. You don't need to show every position change within a given employer.
- Do not repeat details common to several positions. Stress major accomplishments and responsibilities that demonstrate your full competency.
- Describe prior positions and accomplishments, emphasise those most closely related to your next move up.
- Courses or degrees received within the last five years go at the top, otherwise, education should be listed at the bottom.
You should always send a covering letter with a CV. This letter needs to be short and to the point, explaining why you are sending the CV.
If it is in response to an advertised job, you could draw the employer's attention to the skills and experience you have that are particularly relevant to the post.
Be careful to not just repeat exactly what is in your CV.
If you have sent a speculative letter (a letter you send to find out if there are vacancies), you could say when you will follow up the enquiry with a telephone call.
Make a good impression by setting it out correctly, making it easy to read, printing in black ink and using a plain typeface.
Keep it short and sweet and no more than one side of A4 paper.
Start and finish properly - If you start with 'Dear Sir / Madam' you must end with 'Yours faithfully'. If you start with 'Dear Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr' (followed by their name) you must end with the letter with 'Yours sincerely'.
Include all your details, including postcode, telephone number, mobile and e-mail address
Check your spelling and grammar.
Keep it neat and tidy, using white A4 paper and white A4 envelopes, keeping it clean and flat
Post it or email it as soon as you can.
Covering letter template and samples
- Covering letter template 21kb
- Covering letter - sample 1 31kb
- Covering letter - sample 2 31kb
- Covering letter - sample 3 32kb
- Covering letter - sample 4 31kb
National Careers Service -advice, cv writing tool