Writing an effective Curriculum Vitae (CV) is the first stage in the process of seeking a new position. The CV is the means to the end of achieving an interview for your target position.
It has to be written to meet the requirements of the reader i.e. the person or organisation responsible for the recruitment. That person will have limited time availability, so that your CV must be user friendly; in effect it must:
- Be easy to read and simple to understand
- Have impact and not contain waffle
- Convey concisely the key characteristics of you and your experience
- Be written in the third person and avoid the use of 'I' or 'We'.
There is no standard format to follow, but our experience at CRA Consulting suggests that the following format will meet most requirements. It is simple to follow and you certainly do not need to pay for your CV to be written by specialist agencies.
Format and Content
The recommended format is a 2/3 page (no more) document which conveys the following information. Use these headings and keep to the order as listed.
- Full name
- Home address
- Telephone numbers, home and mobile should be sufficient
- Private e-mail address
- Record here your date of birth and marital status
- Include here any professional qualifications achieved or for which you are studying. The date of qualification would be helpful.
- Educational history should be listed here in date order starting with the most recent education. When you get to GCSE passes, simply list the total number achieved and the number of A-C passes; details of each examination at this level is not necessary.
- These skills are so important now that a summary of your software knowledge is most advantageous.
- Employers can learn a lot about an applicant from their interests. But keep this section brief and limited to 3 to 4 items. Think about the impression your interests will give about your personality and mindset. Be prepared for questions on them.
Work History and Experience
- Definitely the most important section, and the one employers will use to judge how you match their requirements and fit their organisation.
The history should be in reverse order starting with your current job and give the following information for each job:
- Job title
- Company name and market sector, if not well known
- Start and finish dates of the employment
- Skills used and acquired in the position
- Principal activities and achievements
- Use bullet points. Above all do not use long, meandering sentences. However, think about what you are writing, so that you are as informative as possible, but in a very concise way.
- If you are tight for space (because of the 2/3 page rule), give more information about your most recent jobs and/or the ones where you have the greatest achievements.
Guidance on Dos and Don'ts
- Do use good quality white A4 paper
- Do keep to 2 to 3 pages
- Do seek guidance from CRA Consulting
- Do use bullet points
- Do take time to get it right, version 2 or 3 might be necessary
- Do check for spelling mistakes
- Don't include names of referees, that can come later
- Don't use unusual fonts and borders
- Don't leave gaps in work history as it prompts queries
- Don't include photographs
- Don't list salary requirements
- Don't write in long sentences
If you need any assistance on writing your CV, contact Caroline or Robert at CRA Consulting on 0114 241 8030.