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How to write a CV

career centre
Getting an interview can depend on how good your CV is. It's your chance to show an employer you've got the skills and experience needed, and that you're the right person for the job.
A CV is one of the most important tools you can ever have when looking to land a new job. When you send your CV to an employer you can be sure you will be judged on your creative skills and ability to read and write English properly. This page is designed to help you prepare your CV and gives some very useful advice on what organisations are looking for from your application.
What is a CV?

The term 'Curriculum Vitae' (CV) is derived from Latin and translated means "the way your life has run.” In simple terms, a CV is a personal statement outlining your life from an educational and professional review.
Why do I need a CV? The idea of a CV is to get you an interview and your foot in the door, not to get you the job. Your CV should reflect your occupational and educational life and be relevant to the position you are applying for. Think of it as a personal marketing platform to sell/promote you to a prospective employer. When constructing your CV bear in mind that potential employers will only spend a mere 30 - 60 seconds reading your life history. Evaluating your own skills, achievements, and personality is one of the most difficult hurdles and is the first step in the CV writing process.
How do I make a good CV? Keeping your CV concise and to the point is a difficult task. Selecting a comprehensive structure and format will help you to achieve this. There are many layouts to choose from, and they vary from country to country; the example layout below is typical for the UK market:
  • Name/Contact Details - display a permanent address, home phone email, and mobile. (Note: if a graduate remember to give a permanent address of a family member and your term time address)
  • Personal Details - include your Date of Birth, Nationality, and Marital status. (Can be placed at the beginning or end of the document.)
  • Personal Profile - highly recommended for grabbing the reader’s attention, it is a key selling point. Ideally this should be punchy, precise, and no more than three, 15-word sentences. E.g. A Senior Operations Manager with 10 years E&P experience.
  • Academic Qualifications - we recommend you list higher education only if already working. Include details on your final year project, i.e. dissertation, thesis. List any other major projects, field studies, training courses etc. (Can be placed after Work Experience.)
  • Work Experience List in reverse chronological order. Include dates, job title/position and company name. As well as writing a brief overview of your job, try and incorporate your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Computing Skills - list all specialist and general software applications used, hardware, operating systems, databases, etc. For each one you might want to list your level of proficiency.
  • Personal Interests - keep this limited but consider what it says about you e.g. are you a team player or an individual?
  • Society Memberships - List the most relevant
  • Referees - optional but recommended, use 3 maximum. Ensure at least one existing or previous manager provides details on company name, job title and telephone/email/contact details. Graduates should list at least one academic referee.
There are several different formats; the most common are listed below. Choose one that is suitable for your own career history or the job that you are applying for.
  • Chronological - Details your work history in reverse chronological order. It shows no gaps or changes in your career and is useful to display a continuous work history that is related to your next job opportunity.
  • Functional Highlights certain skills, achievements and responsibilities rather than listing your work history. It is ideal for career changing, periods of unemployment, redundancy or illness. Also useful if you have repetitious job titles.
  • Targeted A one off CV targeted for a specific job or vacancy. It concentrates on your potential and what you are capable of. Unlike chronological and functional formats which focus on past work history, this type can be used for specialised positions.
The quality and presentation of your CV is vital when selling yourself. The appearance of your CV is an indication to a prospective employer of the type of person that may be working in their environment. There is no exact format for compiling a CV, but the following guideline is a sure fire way to avoid yours being rejected.
  • Is no more than 2 pages max - long CVs are regarded as time wasting? (If you have an extensive work history, use no more than a maximum of 4 pages.)
  • Clearly state who you are, where you have been, and what you have got to offer. Don’t hide your name with your personal information; put it in bold at the top of your CV and in a minimum of 12-14pt.
  • Looks attractive - is well laid out, structured and easy to read.
  • Include a catchy Personal Profile to grab the reader’s attention
  • Try to print on good quality paper - it may be circulated around several departments. Also remember to print on one side of the paper only
  • Use bulleted lists - short and concise points are clean and informative.
  • All relevant work experience listed - make sure it’s written in reverse chronological order
  • Avoid excessive references to me, him, or her - Alternatively write Employed as a Corporate Contracts Manager with 6 months practical experience in.
  • Check for common spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Have someone read your CV, spouses and colleagues know your strengths and weakness and are often more than willing to criticize.
  • Don’t draw attention to any negative descriptions - the idea of a CV is to sell you.
  • Try not to highlight gaps in your work history this might cause the reader to have doubts/questions about you. It is easier to discuss these details face to face at an interview.
  • Avoid listing too many interests and personal information - think about what it is relaying to the reader.
  • Avoid excessive use of CAPITALS, underlining, bold and italics, large fonts - NOT VERY USER FRIENDLY
  • Don’t write long sentences, paragraphs or ramble - aim for concise information, less text is easier to read.
  • Make sure it’s not disorganised and unstructured - don’t make the reader switch back and forth between pages
  • Avoid too many graphics, colours, and rigid formatting
  • Embedding photos as different software might distort your appearance
Before you begin you will need to consider a few things:
  • What to include on your CV
  • How much detail is required
  • How to make your CV stand out
How it should look:
  • Your CV should be easy to read with space between each section
  • There should be no more than two pages. Long CVs are known to be difficult to read and may well bore employers

Fitting all your career and personnel details onto 2 pages may sound very difficult. Try to free up crucial space by leaving certain things that may not be totally relevant at this stage. Only Project Managers, Senior Executives or similar should have lengthy CVs.
Always start with your personal details including your name, address and contact details You may wish to your age, marital status and nationality although it's not essential and by leaving this out you may save space (as above).
When building your CV try not to go over your life story. Specifically design it for the job you are applying for. Always focus on the areas and skills that are important. Go over the job advert you are applying for and think about what the job involves and what type of person they are looking for. Research the employer at this stage to find out what they are all about and how you could fit into their organisation.
Underneath your personal details your Personal Profile outlines various skills that the employer may find useful.
This section should include:
  • Additional skills and qualities
  • Employment background and achievements

This part of the CV should only be a few lines but must spark the reader's interest. Try to give examples of real life skills. Some jobs require experience, while for others your qualifications will be more important if your current or previous job involved working with people then mention you're a good team player and an effective communicator. Make sure this is only a brief as you will have your chance to go into more detail later.
If you have a lengthy career history (more than 5 years) then put your employment history first. If you are younger or do not have much work history then try to focus on your education a lot more or if you have done employment training highlight this here.
Start with your present or most recent job and work backward

Things to include are:
  • Current and previous employers
  • Dates of employment length
  • Your job title
  • Your main functions in the role

Interviewers will want to see how your experience will be useful to their organisation. Be brief about jobs that have no relevance from the one you're applying for. Relevant jobs should be listed in more detail and make sure to show your main duties and responsibilities. Try to give examples of the skills you used and any achievements you have earned.

This information is important and the employer when deciding whether or not to interview you. Your employment history shows your experience and suitability for the job so always include useful information but leave out anything that's not relevant.

When it’s possible relate your skills and experience to the job description provided by the employer as this will make them feel more comfortable employing you if there are relevant skills and or experience you can offer. Try to avoid gaps in your employment history as employers may think you have something to hide. Make sure you have answers ready!
Start with your most recent education or training and go back to those you done at school.

Always include:
  • Qualifications dates and grades
  • Other further education (but only if relevant to the job)
As with your employment history hobbies and interests should be relevant in some way to the jobs you are applying for. Some employers do like to know what type of person you are outside the office so if you're involved in any clubs or societies this can show that you enjoy meeting new people. Try to avoid boring and irrelevant information such as you enjoy cooking or reading as it really is quite boring and won’t score you any brownies points unless you are applying to be a librarian or cook!
Use this section to include reasons for un-explained gaps in your work or education history.
State that references are available if required. You don't need to include referees' contact details on the CV as these can be offered later.
Always print your CV on white A4 paper and use just one font style. The information should be concise and easy to read. Always get someone to help you proof read the content looking for bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Use bolding for section headings such as 'Employment History' or 'Education' nowhere else as it draws the reader's eye away from what's important.
Check4Jobs does not offer any CV writing services as yet but we have put a handpicked list together of well known and trusted advisors that will be able to create you the perfect CV. Simply click here for cv writing services
Always remember a CV should always be straight to the point and always avoid bending the truth on them as quite often prospective employers will catch you out and that can make things very uncomfortable. Also if you are involved in an industry such as Oil and Gas it can usually mean that it is unlikely you will have a job for life. Therefore, your CV should be a dynamic report continually modified to reflect your latest skills and achievements. It needs to be immediately at hand for any new opportunities, enabling you to secure your perfect job!