Creating an impressive CV is no mean feat. You have to sell yourself to industry professionals that you have never met using just one, perhaps two, A4 pages. On these pages, you must convince them that the knowledge and skills you possess make you the right person for the job.
Before starting to create your CV, you should first try to pinpoint exactly what your prospective employer is looking for. If applying to a specific opening, it is imperative to read the job specification carefully, as this can give you an idea of what to include in your CV.
Here is some useful information to bear in mind when creating your CV:
WHAT GOES IN?
- Personal/contact details; full name, address and contact details including a telephone number. There is no need to put your date of birth.
- Work history, highlighting experience relevant to the job you are applying for. This may include internships, voluntary work and freelance work.
- Education history which can consist of: formal qualifications, relevant training, courses, and webinars.
- Achievements, awards, and commendations.
- A photo may be required, but this would be specified in the job advertisement.
PRESENTING INFORMATION IN YOUR CV
It is important to keep your CV concise while also holding the reader’s attention. However long or diverse your employment and academic history may be, you should never make a CV longer than two A4 pages.
Many people who work in HR state that they do not have enough time to read every CV they receive thoroughly. This makes the first few lines incredibly important. That which is the most relevant to the role you’re applying for should be positioned near the top. It’s also a good idea to use bullet points, where possible, as this makes your CV more convenient to read.
If work experience is the strongest aspect of your CV (i.e. you have plenty) then it is best placed before your education. Your CV should start with the most recent job or work placement you’ve had, and work down retrospectively.
Each listed job should include the title of your position and the time period in which you worked there. You should also include a few bullet points highlighting any responsibilities you had or skills you learnt at this job which are relevant to the role you are now applying for.
Try to avoid unexplained gaps in your employment history. If you have taken time out of work for travelling, job seeking, or caring for a relative, it isn’t a problem to include this on your CV.
If there is any evidence of your work displayed online, you could provide links to this as proof of your work.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Start with your most recent qualifications and work back to the first.
For each qualification or training course you should state the name of the institution you attended (university, college or school) and details of each qualification awarded including any grades and the dates you received them.
Don’t forget to list any IT skills, for both Windows and Mac.
INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES
Listing common interests such as socialising, reading, cooking and travelling aren’t of much interest to your potential employer. However, if you have anything specific which you feel is worth mentioning, this is where it should go. For example, if you volunteer at a local charity; if you lead the pub quiz team every week; if you excel in any sport you take part in. If you mention any interests or activities, it may be useful to summarise why they are relevant to your application.
References are not a strict necessity in your CV as you may just state 'references available on request'. However, it is recommended that you have them ready. Two references should be sufficient, as long as at least one of them is work-related.