Writing a CV

The requirements of a CV can change quite a lot depending upon the type of job you’re applying for. A recruitment officer in a company will have certain expectations for a CV from a graduate level job opportunity, and likewise for a low skilled menial labour position. When you write your CV, you need to try to reach a good balance between meeting those expectations and also writing a CV that stands out from the crowd.

A “CV” is the terminology used in the UK, whereas in the USA and Canada it goes by résumé. CV stands for curriculum vitae, which translates to “course of life”. The theme of both the meaning of CV and résumé is that they are both summarising the course of your life, as it pertains to your job. Anything that could conceivably positively impact your job, such as skills and experience in other areas, should be included. While it is supposed to describe your history, remember that it is essentially a marketing document, marketing yourself, and that needs to remain a priority.

To write a CV, there are plenty of tried and tested techniques for creating one that leaves a positive impression with employers:

  1. The length of a CV shouldn’t exceed two sides of an A4 piece of paper. If you have a portfolio, either include a link within your CV to it or wait until you get an interview.
  2. Include the following information; contact details (very important), education, employment history, references (ideally more than one), tested skills (ideally within a workplace setting, not just theories from a workshop).
  3. Make the CV job specific, which means that, if you’re applying to a variety of different positions, you have included information that is only relevant to what you’re applying for, and not just going off on a tangent.
  4. Organise the information on the page; what you’re writing is not an essay, so you want to make it easier for the person reviewing your CV to get the information they need, whether that be your references, your previous job titles, the places you’ve worked, etc.

The order of your information can also be important. A good rule of thumb is to put the most important information first, so your name and contact information first, followed by your portfolio if you work in an industry that uses them a lot, and then education, if you’re new to work, or work experience, if you have a lot of it, and finally your references.

As the last part of your job application, you should add in a cover letter. This is the essay portion of your CV, which gives you the opportunity to personalise your application a bit, and go over some of the smaller details in your life, such as family engagements or interests.