A CV is a personal document that presents your work experience to potential employers. It is basically a brochure selling your strong points. Like any brochure, your CV will be competing with other candidates. The hiring manager may sift through dozens or even hundreds of CVs, so avoid obvious mistakes and turn offs, as this will quickly eliminate your CV from the hiring process.
Bear in mind that your CV may be uploaded to a variety of software packages, or may need to be uploaded to an online careers portal, so for this reason, keep your CV layout simple - do not use boxes or tables, use the same font size and font type throughout the CV (I personally recommend times New Roman, 11 point) and only use black ink. For the same reason, your CV should ideally be a word document and not a pdf file.
Start off with your personal details (name, address, full contact details, availability). Nationalities, date of birth, marital status are optional. If relevant, state if you have a full clean driver’s license.
The next section in your CV is a brief summary of your educational qualifications. Start off this section by listing your highest 3rdlevel qualification first, stating which college, the dates and the result. Then list other qualifications afterwards, and then list any certifications you may also have, and mention any membership of trade / professional bodies.It is not necessary to put in your full Leaving Certificate results, unless it is your only qualification.
You may wish to include a Skills section in your CV. This can be used to point out your core competencies, and/or to mention skills that you have acquired which you haven't mentioned already e.g. fluency in foreign languages, first aid courses, etc. Avoid listing off lots of technical skills, as the hiring manager will have no way of understanding which of these skills are secondary and which are primary.
If you wish to use a profile section, keep it brief and ideally you should tailor this profile for each position you apply for. The space for your personal details and educational background and your profile should take up about the first half of an A4 page.
Work Experience section:
Then start listing your work experience, with your current (or most recent) position listed first (i.e. reverse chronicle order). For each role, list your key responsibilities and achievements and skills used/gained. Many people do this using bullet point format, and this is fine.
Finish your CV with a brief section on hobbies/interests and a one line statement that references can be supplied upon request.
Some other important points:
- Use your spell checker but do not rely on it – read through your CV to double check that there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
- Your CV should be anywhere from 2 - 3 pages long. A one page CV is too short, a 4 page CV is on the long side and anything longer than 4 pages will not be read.
- Keep it relevant. Remember your CV is not an ego exercise but a brochure which may only get 10 - 20 seconds of attention!
- Don’t use too much text; this makes it hard to read. Leave plenty of 'white space' so the reader can easily scan through your CV.
- Save it as a word document (.doc) to ensure that it can be opened universally.
- If you have any career gaps, explain them.
- Avoid clichés and generalisations. The hiring manager will read plenty of Cvs, all stating that they are “highly motivated, professional, team player with excellent communication skills" etc.
- If you have a LinkedIn site, you can refer to this in your CV. If you have a personal website and it is relevant to your application, you may also refer to this in your CV.
- Keep your CV up to date so that when needed you are prepared.
- Lastly, you should consider your CV to be a “vanilla” document, i.e. a standard basic CV which you then tailor for every individual job you apply for.