How to Write a CV The Salvation Army Maddiston 24 th May 2011
CV in a nutshell
What is a CV?
CV stands for curriculum vitae which is Latin for ‘the course of my life’. It is a document that enables potential employers to learn basic facts about you and your job related experience, achievements, skills, and education.
Once you have prepared and submitted your CV to a potential employer the hope is that you will be asked to attend an interview to discuss further what you have to offer.
A typical CV will include individual sections for personal details, work history, and education.
Most CVs will be sorted by chronological order. For example, all jobs in the work history section will be sorted in order of most recent first.
It is a good idea to have a summary section at the start of your CV that condenses your experience, achievements, skills, and education into a single paragraph.
Probably the biggest mistake people make when writing CVs, excluding poor spelling and grammar, is that they simply re-write their job description. If you really want your CV to succeed then you need to invest a lot of thought and effort when writing your CV. Think not what an employer can do for you but what you can do for an employer.
What have you achieved for your current or previous employer during your work there?
What skills do you have that are transferable to a new job?
Don’t just make unsubstantiated statements or claims. For example, rather than just writing ‘excellent interpersonal skills’ you can demonstrate this by also writing ‘as demonstrated when chosen by my supervisor to meet and greet customers and to listen to and evaluate their initial requirements’.
Tell the truth
Work out what qualifications, experience and skills are required for the jobs you are considering and think of what you have done that matches those attributes.
be specific, focused, and factual and give full explicit details and provide evidence for any claims you make. for example, if you claim to be a good communicator then explain exactly what you did in your job that demonstrated this claim.
make sure the spelling is correct. get at least two people to check and read your cv.
don't use the word 'i'.
start every sentence with a verb or action word.
print to good quality plain white A4 paper only.
keep sentences short.
use past tense.
try to keep your cv between 1 and 3 pages long and paragraphs to a maximum of 6 lines.
try to use a maximum of 6 bullet points together, each bullet not more than one or two sentences.
What not to include
don't include any negatives or anything critical.
don't include poor grades, or unfortunate work experiences.
there is rarely an advantage to include any personal interests or hobbies in your cv unless relevant to the job.
don't include references unless specifically requested - they can be requested upon interview.
don't include a photograph unless relevant, such as acting.
do not include matters about your health or any disabilities you have.
What to include
do not include any trade union or political affiliations.
don't include children you have.
don't include humour.
don't show your existing salary or expected salary unless requested.
only use bold, underlining, and italics sparingly for emphasis and easy navigation. for example, on section and sub headings.
do not use all caps.
do not use graphics or images.
a chronological style cv is the most common format and is preferred by employers. with a chronological style cv your work history and education entries are sorted by date in order of most recent first. however, if you want to focus on your skills and experience and have changed careers often, or have large unexplained gaps in your employment history then a functional style cv may be best. be careful as function style cvs can sometimes be viewed as attempting to hide gaps.
do not attempt to hide any gaps as most of the time there is a perfectly good reason, such as getting laid off (it happens!), child birth, or illness that can be explained at interview.
there is no need to include attributes such as gender, date of birth, photograph, children, weight, height, or marital status. there are exceptions however, for example if you are an actor. if you are not a citizen of the united kingdom then you should include nationality.
a profile or summary is generally not required as your cv itself should be a full summary if done correctly. However, if a summary or profile section is included then briefly describe your experience, key skills, and qualifications. keep it short to a few sentences.
concentrate mostly on achievements, not just responsibilities. show what you achieved for the company during your work there.
don't re-write your current job description.
don't include reasons for leaving.
only include recent jobs. what you did 30 years ago will probably not have much relevance today.
include any voluntary or work placement activities. the employer will be interested in the quality of experience whether or not it was paid.
when listing your various jobs, include details which illustrate exactly how they have given you the skills which will be useful.
don't belittle or undervalue your experience. it is up to you to demonstrate how and why they have given you useful skills.
if you have little work history or are currently attending or due to finish school or college then put education section above work history and expand on what experience, skills, and knowledge your study has given you.
don't include poor grades.
include honours if awarded.
give more detail to the higher qualifications listed such as degrees and masters.
give full course details and dates.
if you do not have any formal qualifications then show you successfully completed other educational courses or training such as night school, continuing education, seminars, or workshops.
write 'degree expected' if you have not yet graduated.
if you have nothing to put in an education section then focus on writing the other sections of your cv, highlighting the skills and experience you have gained. consider a school or college nearby that offers classes scheduled around the needs of working adults.
You can include:
membership of relevant professional bodies, clubs or societies
when listing languages make sure you include your level such as fluent, intermediate, or basic. show if you read, write, or speak.
for computing skills make sure you mention the packages you have used such as Microsoft Word.
show your ability to type quickly and accurately by including the words per minute you can type.