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CV Writing – Back to Basics

4 min read
CV Writing – Back to Basics

What is a CV? Curriculum Vitae or ‘CV’ for short means ‘course of life’ in Latin, and the definition of the French term Resume is ‘summary’. This is effectively what your CV should be; a summary of all of your achievements in your working/educational/professional life. What information should be included in your CV? You may not have all of the following things to put on your CV, but as a general rule these are the kind of things that should be included on your CV. At the very least it will need to contain your contact details, work history and education if applicable. Check out the list below and see if your CV ticks most of these boxes…

Contact Details. Put your contact details at the top of your CV. This should include your full name, address, a telephone number that you can be contacted on, and/or an email address.

Personal Statement. You can include a short description of yourself and your main achievements. Often people accompany their CV with a personal statement on a separate page- so make the description on your CV brief- just a few sentences describing your suitability and skills.

Education. You should list your educational qualifications, with the most recent ones appearing first. Highlight the level of education, subject and grades you received.

Career History. Your career history should be listed on your CV. You should list these in chronological (date) order. Your most current employment should be at the top of the list, and the furthest back in time should be the last on the list. You should include- name of the company, job title, the date you started the employment and the date you finished the employment. You should also briefly outline your key responsibilities- at interview you may be able to explain further anything an employer would like to know more about. Your CV should be no more than about 2 pages- so if you have had a lot of jobs, you can always remove some of the oldest in the list, or just give the name and date of this company to save space.

Work Experience. If you have not been in employment before but have completed some work experience then this will definitely be an important aspect of your CV. You should include your job title, the company you worked for, the duration of the work experience and the dates you worked there. You should also outline your key responsibilities whilst working there. Even if you have had other employment- it may also be worth listing your work experience, as the skills you demonstrated might be important within the jobs you are applying for.

Training, skills and achievements. If you have taken any courses, won any awards within a professional capacity, or have any professional skills or achievements that relate to your profession then you should list them here. If they are courses, remember to provide the dates you attended.

IT Skills. If you have a good working knowledge of computers it may be worth listing the IT software you are competent using. Some jobs may require an excellent grasp of word processing software, or spreadsheet software, so listing that you are competent in Microsoft Office, including Word and Excel, for example, will highlight that you have the right skills. If you are familiar with any specialist software or programming languages, then this is the place to list them.

Language Skills. If you are bi/multi-lingual, or have a good knowledge of a language other than your native language, then this information may be useful to list. Especially if the job requires you to speak dual languages, you should highlight your competency and the level of competency you have. However, be careful- if you can speak the odd French phrase, don’t put that you are fluent in French on your CV- this would be misleading.

Personal Details. I have highlighted in previous blogs that there are stringent laws about discrimination within employment. An employer should not use your age or a disability you may have as a reason not to employ you. Therefore disclosing this information should not be detrimental to the application process. It is your choice as to what personal information you disclose on your CV, but you could add any of the following extra information- date of birth, marital status, whether you have a full/clean driving license, disability information, unspent criminal convictions etc.

DO NOT DISCLOSE your passport information, a copy of your passport or driving license, or any bank details on your CV. If an employer needs any of this information they can request this of you once you have been offered a position.

Hobbies and Interests. If a passion of yours coincides with the kind of job you are applying for then you may wish to add it onto your CV. For example, if you scuba dive regularly and have a diving certificate, when going for a job at an aquarium, you may wish to note this, as it is relevant to the job. Putting down that you enjoy going out with your friends on the weekend has no useful relevance to an employer, and so should be avoided at all costs.

There are no 100% definitive rules when it comes to CV writing, you may choose not to list all of these aspects or you may wish to include them all. This is just a guide to give you some idea of what an employer might expect to see, so good luck, and Happy Job Hunting!

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