24 November 2014
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What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae is a marketing document that gives a summary of a job seekers career history, academic qualifications and also explains their future potential. Indeed the phrase  ‘curriculum vitae’ is Latin for ‘the story of your life’. It is also occasionally known as a resume, although this term is more commonly used in America.

A completed CV aims to impress recruiters and is sent as a application to jobs adverts or as a speculative approach to prospective companies.

CVs are valuable and important because they are your first and maybe only direct communication with a potential employer. Presentation is key. For this reason alone it should be carefully thought out, designed and written so that it makes an immediate positive impact on key decision makers. When a reader looks at your resume they should be able to quickly gain a clear indication of your experiences and potential. Bear in mind that the person reading it will never have met you, so keep it grammatically error free and focused, as it will be seen as a reflection of you as a person.

To summarize your CV is essentially a marketing tool that gives you a opportunity to sell yourself and your abilities to employers. It should have:

  • A positive outlook.
  • Clearly show those strengths and experiences that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Demonstrate your potential as a future potential employee.

What should a CV include

Your resume will be made up of a number of sections, these may vary depending on the length and breadth of a candidates career. The essential and fundamental parts that every CV should include are:

  • Personal summary / Career objective
  • Career history
  • Academic qualifications
  • References
  • Areas of expertise

Aim your CV at winning a job interview
With some people there is a misconception that a CV alone will get you a job, this is a misunderstanding of it’s role. No hiring manager will offer a prospective candidate a position just by looking at their resume. Companies only use them to decide whom to interview. A CV is there to win you a interview and it should be written with only that objective in mind.

Apart from applying for jobs, a CV is also useful for:

  • Reminding you of what you have done in your career.
  • Helping you to identify any weakness in your skills, work experience of qualifications.
  • Allowing you to reflect on your career to date, for instance seeing if you have achieved any targets you previously set yourself.
  • Refreshing your mind before a job interview.
  • Setting the agenda for any future interviews.

In a CV presentation is everything
You could be the best qualified and most suitable applicant for a job, but if your CV is rambling, disorganized and does not highlight your key abilities then you will probably be over looked. To be short listed for a role format your curriculum vitae so it shows:

  • Quality
  • Clarity
  • Relevancy
  • Usefulness

Keep your CV short and sweet
In the UK it is recommended that your CV be no longer than two pages. However in the USA a resume can typically be a one page document. To help you save space only  include factual information that is relevant to the vacancy or accomplishments that you feel the employer would be interested in. 

Keep your CV up to date
As you go through your career and working like you will gain new qualifications and skills, it’s therefore important that you keep your resume updated. Modify it accordingly by adding any new skills or qualifications that you have gained. This way it will give a modern overview of your achievements. 

Related topics:

CV template examples

Cover letter samples

CV writer

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User Comments

Alun Spencer said:
05/04/2011 The problem I'm finding is that I'm not sure how to make my CV stand out from the crowd. I like to think that I have a good understanding of what to put in my CV, but I'm never sure how to make it sound better than every one else. Any tips would be appreciated.

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