Chances are your CV will ‘meet’ potential employers before you do, so make sure it’s a well-written read that they’ll never forget.
By Francesca Moll
Writing your CV (curriculum vitae) for the first time can be daunting, but it needn’t be. We’ve put some tips together to help you write a great CV and improve your chances of being employed.
To start, your CV should be no more than two typed pages of A4, clearly set out under several headings. The basic format for a CV includes the following and usually in this order:
- Personal information – include details like your name, address, phone, email, etc.
- A short statement about you – what makes you a great candidate for the job and any relevant achievements.
- Work experience – put paid jobs first! And include volunteer work as well as unpaid work experience.
- Qualifications and training – start with the most recent and work backwards. If you haven’t had any work experience yet, you should put more detail about the grades/levels you have achieved for each subject.
- Club memberships, interests and hobbies – be honest and give more detail than “I like reading.”
- If you are planning a gap year (or had any obvious gaps in your education, etc), you need to give a brief explanation. This can appear as a space where the gap chronologically appeared.
Most employers will ask you for two referees or references, usually this will be an academic and a professional reference (for example, a past teacher/lecturer and a former employer). Check that your referees are happy to provide a reference before listing them.
In general, the most important thing is to target your CV carefully to the job. Read the advert thoroughly and highlight your attributes that the employer wants.
Presentation is also key – poor spelling, punctuation and grammar will create a bad impression, as will a difficult-to-read, text-heavy layout. Proofread your CV. Use the tools available, like spell checker. Show it to a parent/guardian or trusted adult too.
Make sure it is clearly laid out, consistent in style, broken up into headings, and in a sensible font on good quality paper. Important information should be near the top, and it should be easy to see all the key points at a glance.
Many organisations now request an electronic version of your CV to be sent via email. Make sure that the file name is sensible and clearly identifies what it is. For instance, Sue Middleton CV May2013.doc. Use the subject line of the email to state simply but clearly what is attached: Sue Middleton CV. This helps the prospective employer with searching as they may receive tens or even hundreds of applications!
The National Careers Service website has a CV building tool and videos to help first time CV writers: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/tools/cv