11 December 2018
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Writing your CV: The basics


What is a CV?

The term CV or ‘curriculum vitae’ is Latin for ‘course of life, or story of your life’. A curriculum vitae is essentially a statement listing your career objective, work history, personal achievements, academic qualifications and skills relevant to any jobs you wish to apply for.

As employers can receive literally 100’s of CV’s for any vacancy, its important that your CV is well written and designed so that it stands out.

candidate holding a not to impressive CV

Try to make your CV a positive reflection of your skills and experience.

What should a CV be used for?
Your CV should be used as a marketing tool that you can use to ‘sell’ your self and your skill sets to potential recruiters. It is a opportunity for you to show off your strongest points, and demonstrate how you can be a benefit to a employer.

A jobseeker will send their CV to apply for a vacancy being advertised by a employer, hoping that they will be invited to a interview. Or they will use it with a covering letter to make a speculative approach to companies or agencies to see if they have any relevant current or future vacancies.

Apart from the obvious of applying for jobs CV’s also have other uses like:-

Being a reference document listing all your important career information that you can use to help you fill in say job application forms.


When you attend a job interview you can take it with you and use it to refresh your memory just before you go it. This is a important as you will probably be questioned by the interviewer on information that you have listed in your CV.

How to write your CV
It is important to write your CV from a employers perspective, remember you are writing it for them not for yourself. You should ask yourself the following question:

What does a potential employer want to see in my CV?

Answer – They want to see a document that shows them that you have the skills and experience that they are looking for and that you are the ideal candidate for their vacancy.

Therefore you should go about developing your CV as a interesting sales document, with the product that you are selling being you, your experience and your skill sets.

Listed below are those basic elements that you should include in your CV:

Your Personal details
Put these at the top of your CV or at the bottom, include your name, home and mobile numbers as well as your email address. You can also include your date of birth and nationality, although these are not necessary.

A personal or career statement
This should not be longer than one or two paragraphs and should be concise and to the point. List your main work related strengths and achievements. Make sure that the points you mention are related to the job that you are applying for. This will quickly demonstrate to the employer that you meet their selection criteria and they should keep reading your CV.

Your work experience and history
Start with your most recent or present job first, giving the company name and location. Include the period you were employed with them and also your job title. Then give a very brief description of your role followed by a list of bullet points giving information about your duties. This way a recruiter can quickly see your work experience and how it matches up with their requirements.

Academic qualification and education
In this section give details of all your qualifications from school, college and university. Also list those professional courses you may have done whilst working, or if you are a member of any trade professional organization.

A simple statement saying ‘References available on request’ will do. There is no real need to put names and details of referees or job references.

The length of your CV
Make sure that CV is no longer than two A4 size pages, ensure that there are spaces in the page so it does not appear crammed.

Proof reading and checking for spelling mistakes
After writing out and developing your CV you should now check it for spelling errors. This can only take a few minutes and is definitely worth while as any simple mistakes can reflect badly on you.

Related links:

CV writing service

CV template

CV power words

CV services

Europass CV

How to write a CV

Targeting your CV at specific jobs

What employers look for in a CV

What not to put in your CV

Why CVs are rejected

Writing a career objective statement


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