CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means a brief account of your career. CVs are used to explain to recruiters what you can do and what you have done, so a good CV looks forwards as well as accounts for what you did in the past.
A CV should present your knowledge, learning, skills and competencies in a positive, honest way. Despite what you might have seen on The Apprentice, falsifying information on a CV gets you nowhere.
What should I include in a CV?
A CV needs to include enough information for the recruiter to decide whether you are likely to be a suitable candidate, so you should include:
It's important to tailor your CV to the needs of the recruiter and the particular job. So, if there is a job specification or job description, show how you are a good fit by giving examples of how your experience, knowledge and skills fit the requirements of the job, paying particular attention to the ones marked 'essential'.
If you list your previous jobs and there is a gap between them, it's often best to explain why. An unexplained gap can be interpreted adversely.
Reasons for gaps may include:
Ideally, a CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. Overlong CVs may not be read to the end or at all.
Do I need to include a personal summary?
It's not essential and choosing whether or not to add one to your CV comes down to personal choice. If you do decide to include one it should ideally be no more than four lines long and follow immediately after your personal details at the top of your CV.
Personal summaries should be written in strong, positive language and include information on who you are, what skills you can offer and generally what you are looking for in your next role.
Do I list work experience or education first?
This depends on the type of CV you are creating and how much work experience you have. If you have recently graduated and don't have much work experience it is probably best to start with your education.
Should I include hobbies in my CV?
It's not necessary to include hobbies in a CV but if you do, use them as examples of specific achievements, such as supervision of teams, organisation of rotas, collation and analysis of documents, etc.
How should I present my CV?
Aim to put your most attractive feature towards the beginning of your CV where it will be noticed by a recruiter. Similarly, construct a strong finish with a closing remark that is positive and enthusiastic.
Don't be tempted to keep the length of your CV under control by using a small font or closely packed lines of text. Instead arrange text with space around it. Use tables or text boxes and an easy to read font such as Arial or Verdana to ensure a clear layout; use bold font and capitals sparingly and avoid the use of underline.
If you're not a confident speller, have your CV checked by someone you trust. Often computerised spellchecks don't pick up every error.
If you need to post a hard copy of your CV, use good quality paper, staple rather than clip pages together and use an envelope large enough to keep the CV flat in transit. Unless you are advised otherwise by the recruiter, your CV should be accompanied by a cover letter.
The traditional CV, sometimes known as a chronological CV is used to match your qualifications and work experience with the requirements for the job role. The CV is structured in reverse chronological order i.e. the most recent qualifications and experience are listed first.
This type of CV makes it easy for employers to identify potential candidates. This format allows you to provide clear details of your qualifications, work history and responsibilities which match the criteria provided in the job description.
It's important to include:
Skills Based CV's
The skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV, can be used if you have gaps in your employment history. This type of CV is also useful if you have limited experience or you are applying for a job which is not related to your degree subject.
Employability skills are transferable to different roles and employers. The skills-based CV allows you to focus on the skills you have developed in various areas of your life.
It's important to:
Academic CVs are focused on your academic achievements and are used when applying for lecturing or research-based roles, including post-doctoral research. Although there is no page limit, it's important to keep your CV concise and targeted to the requirements of the role.
Your research and academic achievements, research interest and specialist skills should be placed on the first page, if possible. Ensure your writing style is scholarly but clearly understood to those outside your field of interest. Each section should be in reverse chronological order.
Remember to include: