If you are applying for jobs, having an up-to-date CV is essential. Even if the jobs you are applying for ask for an Application Form, having your CV to hand will help you to complete your Application Form more easily as it will list everything that you want to include. A CV gives you more freedom than an Application Form – you can choose what you want to highlight about yourself and your experience, and how you want to present it.
A CV could be considered an advert for you. Use it to shout about the things that you’re proud of. If you know you have weaknesses, this isn’t the place to mention them – they can be addressed once you’ve made a fantastic impression at your job interview! No company would include their weaknesses on one of their adverts, and nor should you!
The first section of your CV is for your Personal Details – your name and address, email address and phone number. Check and double check that these details are correct!
The Personal Profile is your chance to shine!! This can be one of the most challenging parts of CV Writing and is often best left until last, or written with the help of a close friend. Find your perfect job vacancy and pick out key buzz words from it that you think are relevant to you. Use these as a starting point in writing your Personal Profile. Write in the third person (as though someone else has written it about you).
This is an opportunity for you to clearly and briefly list your key skills. Keep them relevant to the job you are applying for – this might mean rewriting this section for every job application! Remember, employers can receive hundreds of applications at any one time, this section provides an “at a glance” picture of what you can do. Get it right!
Unless you are applying for a trainee position, most employers would like to see that you have relevant work experience within the industry you are applying for. Start with your present or most recent employment at the top, and work back in chronological order, over the past ten years. Provide the name of the employer, the dates you worked, your job title and main duties and responsibilities. You may also want to include any specific achievements that you are particularly proud of. If you have been out of work for a while, and have more recent qualifications than work experience, you may prefer to put the Qualifications section before Work Experience. You may also want to include voluntary work in this section, or have a separate section for it if you have a lot of voluntary experience.
Training and Qualifications
Some jobs will require you to have certain qualifications already (Maths and English GCSEs, an NVQ, a degree), whilst others will just be looking for a general overview of your education history. List all qualifications, starting with the most recent, and detailing the title, year completed, grade, and educational establishment. You may have completed training courses with previous employers in subjects such as Health and Safety, Diversity, Manual Handling, First Aid. Whilst these are very useful for showing your overall relevant knowledge, many employers will still ask you to complete their in-house training programmes on the same subjects if you are appointed.
Hobbies and Interests
This is your chance to show the employer a bit about your personality. Keep it short and sweet, but use the opportunity to sell yourself as a good team member. If you have an unusual hobby, or a hobby that the employer shares, then it could get you that interview! Try to avoid using standard hobbies, such as “socialising” and come up with something a bit different.
It is fine to say “References available on request”, especially if you are currently employed. But make sure that you do have referees lined up so that if they are requested you can get them back to the employer as quickly as possible. Your references should include your most recent employer. Your second reference could be a colleague, friend, teacher.
Good presentation of your CV is vital. Your CV should ideally be on two pages of A4 paper, spread evenly across the pages. Your CV should provide a BRIEF overview of your experience, if you find that you are padding it out to fill two pages, make it fit on one. A one and a half page CV just looks like you haven’t got much to offer. If you are posting your CV, send it first class in an A4 envelope, don’t fold it. Use a hard-backed envelope if you can to avoid the CV getting damaged in the post. If you’re going for a creative job, show some of that creativity in your CV, but don’t overdo it.
Your Covering Letter is your chance to get the employer excited about reading your CV. Make the most of it. Keep it short and sweet, but really sell yourself. Start out by telling them where you saw the job advertised, then tell them why you are applying. This is a chance to sweeten them up a bit! Tell them why you want the job, so that they can see you have really thought about it and would be a loyal employee, and you’re not just sending out the same letter to every job. Then tell them why they should hire you – mention some of your fantastic skills and experience, but keep it brief and point them in the direction of your CV to find out more. Try to present your Covering Letter in a similar style to your CV (for example, use the same font) to make them a clear pair.
Before you send out your CV, get someone to read through it for you to check for any spelling mistakes, and to see if they feel it is an honest reflection of you. Chances are you’ve been too modest and they will have more positive things to add into your Personal Profile! Make sure that you’ve got the name and address of the employer right, and that your CV will arrive in plenty of time for the closing date.
Check out Opportunity Plus UK’s Employability courses for further support with finding a job. Visit www.opportunityplus.org.uk for more information.