Writing a good Curriculum Vitae or CV.
There are two things that are your calling card when applying for a new job, your covering letter and your CV. A good CV and covering letter, if required, will determine the first impressions that a prospective employer forms of you. It’s important you get it right, because a good CV will go a long way towards securing you an interview. We have put together a few pointers and websites that we feel will help.
CV’s should always be clear and concise and as a rule of thumb try to keep it to no more than two A4 pages long. The layout should be clear and logical with a clear time line that usually runs from present employment backwards. Below is listed the most common way a CV is organised with a few tips for each section At the bottom of this section are a few links for CV templates and websites that may be helpful .
CV Heading: This should be simple and contain your full name and the title Curriculum Vitae.
Personal Details: Your personal details comprise your full name and title, your postal address and full contact details including your e-mail address, home, mobile and work telephone numbers. You should state whether you have a full, clean driving licence.
Personal Profile: This needs to be concise, factual and highlight your skills in direct relationship to the role for which you are applying. This is an optional section and can be used to positively convey why you are seeking a career move. Use this section to reflect your skills, experience and work ethics in a personal way.
Key Achievements: This is a really important part of your CV and needs to be looked at for each job application. Make this where you really highlight your achievements in your current and previous employment. This needs to be backed up with facts, figures, targets, timescales and other performance indicators. It is also a good idea to highlight your achievements relating to people skills. You will be asked a lot about this section of your CV so make sure it is honest and concise but don’t be afraid to sell yourself.
Career History: This needs to run in reverse order starting with your current employer and working backwards. You will need to give the company name, your job title and the dates of your employment e.g. January 2008- May 2012. It is a good idea to use bullet points for your key responsibilities and achievements, keep it brief as you can always expand on the relevant details in your covering letter. Don’t write a job description, just the key points of your role and any extra achievements or responsibilities given to you outside of your usual role. If you were promoted or moved roles or departments put the dates in the same section. Also remember to explain any gaps in your employment history by listing the dates along with a short, sentence providing the reason why you were not working e.g. travelling the world, or raising children. Finally remember to put your contact details at the bottom of each page of your CV.
Education and Qualifications: Start with your most recent qualifications first, giving details for your most important and relevant qualifications. Show the date the exam was passed or the course completed and the name of the institution or organisation granting the qualification. Remember to reduce the detail for less significant qualifications.
References: You need to supply two references – and ideally, one of these should be your current or most recent employer. You can ask for them not to be contacted without your permission.
The second reference should ideally be someone who they can contact straight away. Make sure that the referees name and contact details are correct and that they are aware that they may be contacted.
Proof read and get feedback
A fresh pair of eyes is vital ask a friend or family member to proof read the CV and make any changes, check and check again. Feedback on content is also useful to ensure you have not omitted any relevant experience that may help you gain access to your dream job.
Writing a good covering letter
A covering letter is a really useful tool and should be tailored to each new job application. A good covering letter should really be as specific to the role that you are applying for as possible. Keep it fairly short, 1 page of A4. The covering letter is vital to your CV. “Please find enclosed my CV” won’t get you very far. Your covering letter demonstrates your language skills and communication style better than your CV (which needs to be more brief and factual).
The covering letter puts flesh on the bare bones of the CV. Use the letter to highlight your experience, skills and the qualities the job calls for. A good covering letter makes a statement about yourself and your suitability for the job, it should give the personal touch that your CV will intrinsically lack.