Creating a CV
A CV is an essential part of any job search, not to mention a great way to put all of your skills, experience, and qualifications in one place. In fact, a well written CV could be the difference between getting an interview and not being considered for the role.
A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé), is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience.
They may be used for a variety of reasons, however, the most common of these is to send to prospective employers when looking for a new job.
Although there’s no official CV structure, certain key information should always be included.
Here a few essential things you should aim to cover in your CV:
- Your personal details (e.g. name, address, phone number)
- A personal statement (a brief personal summary of who you are and what you’re looking for)
- Relevant key skills
- Work experience (listed in reverse chronological order – with the most recent coming first)
- Education and qualifications (listed in reverse chronological order)
- Hobbies and interests (if you think they might help you get the job - you don't have to include them)
- References (often available on request)
CVs fall into two basic categories - classic and skills based. A Classic CV is the traditional version which is more of a historical account, with work history high up the page. This is mainly useful if you feel your recent work experiences are a key selling point. A Skills Based puts greater emphasis on your skills, strengths and relevant experiences. This can be particularly useful if you don't have recent work experiences to share.
Is my CV to long?
The golden rule here is to keep your CV down to two sides of A4 maximum.
Only include what’s going to make you a good fit for the role you’re applying for, and don’t overdo it with unnecessary detail. You can always use your cover letter to elaborate on any skills and experience you didn’t have room for in your CV.
It also isn’t true that you don’t need a CV anymore. Even with the growth of social media and other non-conventional methods, CVs are still an integral part of the hiring process, not to mention a great way to sell yourself to a role.
So instead of filling it with keywords and meaningless phrases, make sure it’s readable – and tailored to the role you’re applying for, you should adjust and tailor your CV for each job you apply for. Also, always ensure your skills are backed up with real examples. That way, you’re far more likely to hold an employer’s attention.
Usually if you are posting or emailing a CV to a perspective employer you will need a covering letter to go with it. Your CV informs your prospective employer about your skills, experience and qualifications. But a cover letter allows you opportunity to say why all these things make you a good fit for their role. The consensus amongst recruiters is that this should be attention grabbing, but concise. In many ways its more of a tricky, self-marketing exercise than a CV or application because you have less space to highlight why you have got what the employer is looking for. There is some good advice on the Prospects and Reed websites.