Your CV will be a key reference and invaluable when completing job application forms.
How to write a CV
While there is no ‘one way’ to write a CV, there are a couple of elements that most CVs always have:
- Length: no longer than two sides of (white) A4 paper, typed (not including your cover letter).
- Font: keep it black, between size 10-12, and a common type such as Arial or Times New Roman.
- Layout: simple and clear, using headings, formatting (bolding, italics, underlining), and spacing to structure the information and make it easily scannable.
Keep in mind that the simpler the layout, the less likely it is that elements will appear oddly when opened on different devices.
The biggest tip for what to include in your CV is to tweak and tailor it to the job you’re applying for!
Don’t send a generic CV that details all of your experience and skills (although if you’re writing your first CV, you might find yourself throwing everything in to pad it out – resist the temptation!).
Read the job description for the role you’re applying for – research the employer, too – and select the experience and skills that are most relevant.
So, what should you include?
The following should go at the top of your CV:
- full name
- phone number (home and mobile)
- email address – not an embarrassing one!
- current address (doesn't have to be in full)
Make sure this information is up to date so a potential employer can reach you. They won’t want to have to chase you.
This could be a topline summary about yourself, and a teaser for what you say later. It shouldn’t be longer than a few sentences.
You may mention some of your key strengths and attributes here, especially any that the role explicitly requires – expect to back these up in the main body of your CV, and to talk about them during an interview.
Beginning with your most recent/current position and going backwards, list out your previous jobs (including different roles at the same employer).
For each role, you should include:
- company or organisation’s name
- your official title
- length of employment (month and year)
- your main responsibilities
Try to highlight what you achieved or the impact you made in a previous role (and tie these back to the required skills or experience).
Like work experience above, beginning with the most recent (or current) one, list out your formal education history, going back to secondary school.
You should include:
- the name of the institution you studied at
- when you studied there
- the qualification (and grade/s) you achieved
Other achievements, qualifications, and skills
These can be further strengths that don’t quite sit within your work or education history. They may be asked for explicitly in the job description. Depending on the role, examples you might include could be:
- specialist training, e.g. health and safety
- the ability to speak different languages
- knowledge of software or equipment, such as video or photo editing programmes, inventory systems (e.g. in a retail role)
- awards or other achievements (Duke of Edinburgh, recipient of an academic scholarship)
- links to online portfolios or blogs
Hobbies and interests
Hobbies, passions, and interests can be a great way to stand out from the crowd (and a nice icebreaker in an interview). But it's unlikely that they will be the reason you're offered a position – work experience and qualifications will usually be the deciding factor when an employer makes a job offer.
A reference is an endorsement of what you’ve put on your CV and a way for potential employers to verify your work and/or educational history. The person who writes your reference is a referee. You can simply write ‘References available on request,’ and provide their contact details later.