Preparing your CV

Until your interview, you are only as good as your paperwork and, perhaps, telephone manner. This makes your CV and covering letter crucial. Like any marketing document a CV should help you sell yourself.

Think about your skills, competencies, qualifications and experience. What are your unique selling points and strengths? If you are replying to a specific job advertisement, think about the key words and tasks that were used in the advertisement. Which of these apply to you? Use these words in your CV.

Remember that you want your CV to be read and responded to. Tempt the recipient! Include just enough information to stimulate interest, but not so much that you bore the reader. Three pages maximum are an ideal length. Every word must contribute to the overall message – so keep it brief and make sure the contents are relevant to the job you are looking for now – not your last one!

Ensure your CV is well structured; this gives the impression that you think logically and makes the CV easier to read. A CV that is hard to read is often rejected. When writing the CV remember that opinions are best avoided unless they’re someone else’s! For example you might include a statement or fact from a recent appraisal. Pay close attention to reply instructions. Have someone check your spelling and grammar. Use white paper – never coloured’ as it does not photocopy so well.

The first page

This should contain your personal details (name, address, telephone numbers, education and qualifications) and a brief general overview of your skills, experience and the nature of work sought. If you are seeking temporary or contract work do not forget to include availability and preferred locations.

Pages two-three

Here you should highlight your employment history. Present this in reverse chronological order (i.e. last job first). If you have worked for only one company, break it down with an entry for each position or projects dealt with.

For each position held, describe the nature of the work, plus your duties and responsibilities. Do include achievements as well as tasks. If you can, quantify them in sales, financial or production terms.

List your hobbies and interests in no more than three lines if they are relevant. Any voluntary, charity or external posts are worth listing. Avoid anything too controversial (e.g. naturism).

It is recommended that two referees are given – include their official titles, addresses and telephone numbers.