Career essentials: the CV
Every issue we’ll take a look at some of the skills and tools you’ll need throughout your career. This time it’s the CV. Not sure what that is, or how to write one? Here’s a beginner’s guide…
Introducing the CV
Your CV – or ‘curriculum vitae’ – is often the first thing an employer will see when you apply for a job. It’s basically a short written introduction to you and outlines your qualifications, professional experience and anything else that might make you suitable for the job.
What to include
1 – Name and contact details. Put this at the top. Include your full name, date of birth, mobile phone number and email address – if your current one is something like ‘[email protected]’ an employer won’t be impressed, so consider upgrading to something more professional. Only include social media links if your feed is crammed with evidence of why you’re right for the job and nothing else – embarrassing pics are a one-way ticket to not getting an interview.
2 – Professional experience. Don’t worry if it’s brief, employers will understand that you’re just starting out. List any jobs you’ve had (include work experience), the most recent one first, with brief details of when you worked there and what you did. Use active phrases – say things like ‘Responsible for…’ or ‘In charge of…’ instead of ‘I did this…’, and put your main duties in bullet points so it’s easier for someone to read quickly.
3 – Skills. If you haven’t had much work experience yet, provide some details of any activities you’ve been involved with that may have given you relevant skills. That might be a club or society at school or college; a sports team; or an organisation like the Scouts. Say what you did, and what you learned – to communicate well, work as a team or be a leader, for example. If you’ve built a website or can demonstrate good ICT skills, make sure you include this – employers love good ICT knowledge.
4 – Qualifications. List your most recent ones first. Give details of A Level subjects; for GCSEs just give the number and grades, eg. ’10 GCSEs grades A-C, including English and Maths’. Include any awards at school and things like Duke of Edinburgh awards as well.
5 – Hobbies and interests. This is an optional section that you might include after your name and contact details. Briefly explain what you do in your spare time and why it’s relevant to the job – employers like qualities such as having an eye for detail, being comfortable meeting new people or dedicating yourself to improving at something, whether that’s art, angling or algebra.
Three top tips
1 – keep it brief. One or two A4 pages max
2 – keep it professional. No slang, abbreviations or emoji.
3 – keep it tidy. Nice, simple layout with a single font. No pics, no cartoons, no colour!
Your CV is designed to be read by someone who doesn’t know you. They’ll probably have lots of others to look at, so make it easy for them to find what they need to know about you and present all your information clearly.
Before you send your CV to anyone, check the spelling twice and get at least one other person to read it and check for mistakes. Bad spelling or untidy presentation will get your CV filed in the bin straight away!