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YOUR CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)

First impressions matter! Your CV must attract the employer’s attention in the first 30 - 60 seconds for you to have a chance of obtaining an interview. The employer may have hundreds of CVs to look through and only a short time to make a decision on who gets an interview.

Don’t panic. The ‘perfect CV’ is a myth; there is no such thing. A good CV is one whose content is closely tailored to the post you are applying for. So your CV will evolve to meet the requirements of the job description.

An employer wants to know why they should invite you for an interview so it is a good idea to include a short summary of your capabilities and/or a list of your major achievements. This should make an employer want to invite you for an interview. (Don’t, however, oversell yourself).

The visual layout of your CV is very important. Even though the wording you use may be correct, if people cannot find the information they want quickly they will move on to someone else's CV. Use plenty of 'white space' in your CV and appropriate headings and section breaks and ensure that key information is ‘boldly’ highlighted or underlined.

Try to keep your CV to two pages of A4, unless someone specifically asks you for a longer CV. Remember that employers do not want to know your whole life history - just enough to decide whether they should interview you or not.

If your CV is not well organised then the reader will find it hard to follow and will not be able to build up a picture of you quickly. Remember the reader will not spend very long looking at your CV. If they cannot find what they want they will not bother to read any further. Keep your sentences short and punchy and use bullet points to break up the text under section headings.

A lot of people do not include enough details about their previous jobs and experience so an employer does not have enough information. They may therefore, have to reject your application.

Your CV is your sales document to an employer. If it does not tell an employer why they should employ you, then it has failed. An employer will only want to employ you if they can see a benefit in it for themselves.

Double check your CV for errors and spelling mistakes. It is always a good idea to get someone else to check over it for you, or read it backwards – sounds strange but it works!

It is your decision if you want to include personal information which probably will not be relevant to the post you are applying for, for example: age, marital status and if you have children. It is not necessary to include such information but if you do so then think about putting it at the end of your CV.

Work out what qualifications, experience and skills are required for the job. Think of what you have done that match these attributes. Be specific, factual and focused.

It is always a good idea to print your CV on good quality plain white A4 paper. If you prefer to use good quality coloured paper, this can enhance your CV’s visual impact but choose a subtle colour. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Use the past tense. Never use anything negative or critical. Most CVs do not include a photograph and do not include your reasons for leaving a job.

Do not use jargon and abbreviations. Avoid the word ‘I’. Use key words or action words e.g. improved, designed, generated or successfully.

When writing about your work history describe your achievements not just responsibilities. Do include any voluntary or work placements. The employer will be interested in the quality of experience, whether it was paid or not. It is up to you to demonstrate how and why your jobs have given you useful skills.

Do not belittle or undervalue your experience and do not use humour. You can discuss your existing or expected salary when in interview.

Most jobs require:

Make sure you list any skills that will interest an employer, if they are relevant.

Remember your CV should be:

and should match the market.

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