A curriculum vitae – popularly called a CV – is literally your work history, a summary of your educational and work experience, for the information of possible future employers. It’s a bit different from a résumé, in that a résumé is typically used by people in all professions except academia and medicine.
Your CV is practically who you are, what you carry and portray. Without meeting you, a prospective employer, or anyone who comes in contact with it, should have some good idea of who you are.
There are so many ways, techniques and ideas on how to write a standard CV. It’s the content, practical skills, and work experience that employers are particularly interested in, plus evidence of what you have created, like listings of exhibitions. Work experience takes priority over education. For example, for a multimedia CV, you should include your technical skills (your proficiency with programs like Flash, Maya, and Photoshop). For advertising jobs, evidence of an interest in music, art, photography or film may help
Only when the wording is excellent consider into something that is a bit different: get the content right before focusing on the design. It is the content and presentation that will make the impact.
Below is what I consider to be a concise and easy guide on how to write a standard CV.
Presentation (Layout and Style)
When writing a CV you’re communicating with someone you’ve probably never met, so it’s important to make that first impression count. An effective CV is the start of every successful job campaign, so it is very vital to spend time and effort on producing one that will get you that all important interview and give you the chance to market yourself in person. There are several standard CV formats, but most employers will prefer the chronological CV. Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Content (Personal Details)
Start with your name, address, telephone numbers, preferred e-mail address, date of birth and nationality.
Keep it short and to the point. This should be a few sentences or a short paragraph describing your key skills and experience. Tailor it to the position you are applying for. Detail your professional status and career development along with your immediate ambitions.
Professional and Academic Qualifications
List your most recent achievements first. Unless you are a recent graduate or school leaver, your professional experience and qualifications will be most relevant.
List all previous employment in reverse chronological order. Start with details of your current employment. Include name and location of employer, your job title and dates of employment. Use bullet points to outline the main responsibilities, and accomplishments. Wherever possible quantify and qualify with specific details that illustrate your skill base. Ensure that you account for any gaps in your employment history.
Unless they specifically relate to skill requirements of the position you’re applying for, it is worth considering omitting the rather dated tradition of listing your personal interests. They take up valuable room on your CV that could be used to include more relevant information.
Some applications may be supported by a portfolio of your work. State on your CV that a portfolio is available on request. If you have applied online or have an online portfolio make sure that you include the URL to your site.
It is not necessary to include details of referees at this stage. However, you may want to state that references are available on request.
Tips on Writing a CV
- Do not hand-write a CV.
- Use good quality white A4 paper to print your CV (if possible use a laser printer).
- Use a clear typeface.
- Ensure the layout is evenly spaced and easy to read, using subheadings to draw the reader’s eye to important information.
- Remember to keep all information on your CV concise and clear.
- Be scrupulously careful when you proofread, a misspelling or grammatical error gets noticed before the point you are trying to make does. Get someone else to check it for you.
- Focus on your skills and experience. Highlight your career achievements.
- Always keep your CV up to date.
Naturally a CV needs to be revised periodically during your career. If required, your Recruitment Consultant can assess your CV and offer advice on any areas that could be refined to develop your chance of success in getting the position you want.