What a CV should contain
A CV is the most essential part of any job search. It is a document outlining all of your most important career experiences as well as your most valuable skills and qualifications. A well written, concise CV can be the difference between getting an interview and not being considered altogether.
A CV should contain a personal details section at the top including your name, address, phone number and email address so that the employer can contact you for an interview without having to sift through the rest of your CV trying to find your contact information.
Next, write a brief personal statement which summarises who you are and what type of work you are looking for. Remember to adjust this according to each job you apply for as you will want to appeal to the requirements of each job description.
Include your relevant skills which match the description of the job you are applying for. Stay away from the generic skills such as ‘team player’ and ‘hardworking’ as employers will see this all the time and will end up glossing over it.
Your work experience should come next, listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent job first. It’s easier for employers to work backwards from where you work now rather than having to scroll through all of your jobs since the age of 16.
Education and qualifications should also be listed in reverse chronological order as the most recent is probably going to be the most relevant.
Hobbies and interests should only be written if you think they are relevant to the job you are applying for and keep them professional.
References can be left off your CV but be sure to write ‘References available on request’ so that the employer knows that you have them if they need them.
The most common types of CV are:
Lots of employers prefer this type of CV if you have the relevant experience and qualifications for the role you are applying for.
This is good for someone looking for a change of career or who has gaps in their employment history as it will highlight your most relevant skills and experience from all areas of your life before looking at your previous education and employment history.
An academic CV is usually used when applying for a Teaching job or research post as it focuses on the range and quality of your research, publications and teaching experience.
If you think a creative CV will give you an edge over someone else who will apply for the role then try something a little different. However, don’t make it hard to read or garish with multicoloured fonts ...it should still be professional.
You will also use this type of CV in the creative industry and can range from a website, online portfolio or interactive presentation rather than a standard word document.
In regards to which CV format employers prefer, reverse chronological order is a solid bet as it is one of the most common and less time consuming to read. Another common CV format is the functional CV. This highlights your abilities such as hiring, managing or coaching rather before your previous employment which is still usually summarised at the bottom of this CV. Functional CV’s are particularly useful for people who have gaps in their employment history, are re-entering the workforce or who are looking for a change of career.
Each employer is different and depending on your type of experience you will need to change the format of your CV accordingly.
There is no right or wrong answer to how long your CV should be. However, try to bare in mind that employers will potentially sift through hundreds of CV’s so you want to try to keep yours concise and as easy to read as possible. If the employer can get all of the information there is to know within the first 2 pages, you’re more likely to stay in their mind for not taking up too much of their time.
There are also, lots of websites online to help you create an online CV. By providing you with standard templates, you can choose the right format for your CV with ease and fill in the blanks with your information.
A cover letter is usually a one sided word document that is sent with your CV as a sort of front cover, specifically written with the job you are applying for in mind. A brief paragraph outlining what would make you right for the role is all you need to write here along with your Name and contact information.
If you have the hiring manager’s name, use it! By addressing it directly to the person dealing with recruitment, it will show that you have done the research into who you want to work for and will save you from using the generic ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and make you stand out from the other CVs.