What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?
A CV is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience. You might also see it called a Résumé. Today most people will type up their CV. You can generally email your CV or print and post it.
What is a CV used for?
You may be required to submit your CV during the initial application stage for a job and it would usually be sent with a cover letter. This is usually the first time the employer has heard of you and therefore it needs to make a good impression. The information you put on your CV will be judged not only against other applicants but the employer will generally use a job person specification.
The Person Specification
The person specification is a description of the qualifications, skills, experience, knowledge and other attributes which a candidate must/ideally possess to perform the job duties. The person specification would have been put together from the job description.
Invitation to interview
Once the employer had looked at all the applications they will make a short list of who they want to interview and at that stage they will send out the emails/letters to invite you to interview. You will be expected to confirm you can attend the interview.
What is essential to include in your CV?
If this is your first CV you have written it can seem like a huge challenge to do. Nowadays many individuals may have done this as a practice at school. If it is not your first CV then you must review it every time you apply for a new job to keep it up to date and ensure it is specifically tailored to the job you are applying for.
The structure of your CV must include certain key pieces of information.
Your personal details:
Put your name at the top of the page. Underneath you can put your address, telephone number and email address.
Your personal statement/profile
Your personal statement should only be a few lines where you explain what your career aspirations are and why you want to work in the sector you have applied for. You can include any skills or personal attribute that will make then consider employing you.
Refer back to the job description and it will give you information as to what skills they are particularly looking for. Examples might be:
- computing skills including Microsoft office and typing skills
- technical skills if it is practical skills that are important
- language skills
You can use bullet points to list your skills and this will make this section very clear. People reading CV’s want it to be easily and quickly readable.
Education and qualifications:
It is usually better to put the most recent things first. If you have just left school you should only record your education from the age of 11.
Name the school you attended and the qualifications (e.g. GCSE, BTEC or A- Level) you achieved there.
You might want to include any other academic achievements too. Did you get a scholarship? Did you achieve any special achievement award?
Previous employment/ work experience
This is the section where you can show the employer that you have the skills they are looking for.
This should include any jobs you have had and/or any work experience placements you have done. It is usually better to put the most recent things first.
You should write down the dates you worked there (e.g. March 2017 to September 2017), the name of the company you worked for and your job role e.g. sales assistant or receptionist.
You can then list what your duties were and the skills that you developed whilst working there.
• assisting customers
• stocking the shelves
• answering the telephone
• working behind the till.
I developed excellent communication skills by face to face conversations with customers. I also developed confidence when speaking with customers on the telephone. The shop was very busy and I learnt to work efficiently under pressure which also built my confidence. I could work on my own and I worked well with other team members.
Voluntary work is something you can include in this section if it relates to the job you are applying for in a specific way. You might have volunteered as a receptionist in your local hair salon which would be good experience for any office job or any job where you are dealing face to face with customers as well as on the telephone. You can also put it under interests as it will still be valuable information for the employer.
This section is useful if you don’t have much work experience so mention anything you’ve been involved with inside and outside of school. If possible, mention interests that are relevant to the apprenticeship or things that will interest the employer.
Here you can also add any other non-academic achievements such as a Duke of Edinburgh Award or any sporting achievements you may have such as Captain of the football team.
You can write references available on request but it would look better if you provided them up front. You will need to ask the people you want to provide you with references if they are happy to do this for you. You should also get the contact details they would prefer you to give out. It is not acceptable to use any family member or your friends! You can ask your teacher/tutor for a reference and you can get references from previous employers or people you worked for during work experience placements.
Can I use a CV template?
Absolutely! We have one you can DOWNLOAD HERE
General hints and tips
- Your CV should be typed as many applications are done via email. It is also easier to save and amend as required. You can also print it off and take it with you to the interview.
- It must be clear and simple to read. Making it flashy makes it difficult to read and will put the employer off and they may dismiss it rather than read it at all!
- It is important you consider the font you use – the most popular being Arial and Times New Roman – its best not to use fancy fonts for a CV. This will add to making the CV difficult to read. Don’t make the font size smaller than an 11.
- Bold, italics and bullet points will help make your CV more readable, but don’t go overboard.
CHECK, CHECK and RE CHECK
Spelling and grammar is one of the first impressions that you will make to a potential employer. It is vital that you make no mistakes. Nothing looks worse than a CV with spelling and grammar mistakes and it will put the employer off. Once you have checked it then try to get someone else to check it through too.
Try reading your CV out aloud as this will draw your attention to any errors.
What about Application forms?
There are some employers who request you only fill in their application form. They will generally give you specific instructions how you should complete this and so you must follow exactly what they ask you to do. You can use the information you have mapped out on your CV to help you fill in the application form. For some employers, you will fill in their application form and also upload a covering letter with your CV.