CV Writing Skills

A CV is a tool that introduces you to potential employers. Your CV will provide an employer with personal information about you, and details about your work experience, skills and qualifications.

CVs come in different formats. Consider who you are applying to and choose the most appropriate format for that application. Do you need a more formal style, or is a more unconventional approach going to be more successful?

You will need to do some research to see what an employer may be expecting so check out the company or organisation. (You may need to ask questions, look at their website and/or read any information sent to you.) Remember, an employer may receive many CVs so how are you going to make your CV stand out from the rest?

Your CV will need to cover the following key areas;

Personal details

Include your name, address, phone number and a sensible email address. You don’t need to include your date of birth but you may wish to do so..

Career history

 Start with your most recent work experience first. Add the employer’s name, dates, your title and duties and relate appropriate skills to the job description. Use bullet points to give details of skills and achievements to keep it clear and concise. Make sure you use ‘action’ words to create a positive impression. (For example, problem solving, negotiating and persuading could be linked to a sales role.)

Personal Profile or Statement

This is an opportunity to really sell yourself by creating a mini advert highlighting key points that may be covered in greater detail elsewhere in your CV. You need to convey a positive impression of yourself in a short paragraph, highlighting your key qualities, skills and experience.  Use positive words in your statement, like ‘adaptable, competent and reliable but don’t overuse stock phrases. It is also an opportunity to make a statement about your career aims.

Qualifications and Training

Ensure you add all qualifications and grades with dates. Start with your most recent qualifications and work back. If you have completed any other training like Food Hygiene or First Aid, make sure you include these too.

Interests

This is an opportunity to tell an employer about other interests you have that may be relevant to the post. Make sure you include any responsibilities or skills that you have. For example have you taken a leadership role or are you a team player?

Extra Information

This is an opportunity to explain any gaps in your work history or career changes.

Referees

You usually need the names and contact details of 2 referees. One will normally be your most recent employer. Both referees will need to be able to talk about you, your skills and experience with reference to the post so who you ask might change for different positions. You need to ask the referees permission before you add their details to your CV. If you are handing out a general CV then you would not add their names but add the phrase ‘references available on request’. If you have little or no work experience, you would ask a college professional who knows you and your achievements.

Final Checks

Once you have chosen your format and added your information, there are some important checks to make before you give it to an employer. Stand in an employer’s shoes. What impression does your CV make? Ask someone else to look at the draft and give you some feedback. Also check;

  • Is your CV neat and typed?
  • Is the font and font size used appropriate?  (Arial and Verdana are popular.)
  • Have you checked your spellings and grammar?
  • Is it an honest representation of you, your skills and experience?
  • Keep it concise. It should ideally cover no more than 2 sides of A4.

Finally, if your CV is not producing the results you want, change it. It is not a one size fits all document, so keep it up to date, review it regularly and make those changes.