Whether you’re about to finish your tertiary studies and start looking for your dream job, or you’re at the end of your schooling career and looking for some part-time work, it’s important to have a well-written CV that tells your story. There is no right or wrong way to write a CV, but there are some common things that you should include.
This blog post will give you a few general tips and techniques that will help you to put together a CV that makes you stand out.
CV writing tips, techniques and ideas
Think of your CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae or Résumé) as your very own sales pitch. It’s a document that not only lists your personal details, education and employment history, but also your unique achievements and competencies. The type of information you should include, as well as the level of detail, will depend on your background and the specific role that you are applying for. However, the following are sections that all CVs should include:
Personal details: Include your full name, residential address, phone number and email address. If your LinkedIn profile is up to date, include a link to that too. You don’t need to include your marital status or nationality and it’s up to you whether you want to include a photo of yourself (if you do, make sure it looks professional!).
Personal statement: This is a brief paragraph, which should grab the attention of the reader and explain some of your key characteristics. Mention your career interests and notable achievements but keep it brief and enticing.
Education: List your most recent qualifications first and include the name of the school or institution and the dates for each qualification. You should also list any notable academic achievements such as awards or prizes. You can include specific skills and other training or certifications under this section, or list them in a separate subsection if you’d prefer.
Achievements/Leadership roles/Community work: This section is particularly important if you don’t have a lot of work experience as it will highlight your extra-curricular achievements. Think about all the achievements and activities that you’ve dedicated time towards and that you’re proud of and provide a brief summary of each.
Employment history: Include your most recent role first and work backwards. List the company name and website, job title, and the dates you were employed for each role. Then briefly list your responsibilities and achievements. If you don’t have lots of work experience, that’s fine, include any voluntary work or internships you’ve done.
Referees: The people you list as referees should know you fairly well in a professional or academic context and you need to ask their permission to act as your referee. If you don’t have work experience, list a teacher or lecturer who is familiar with your character. List two or three people, their job title and organisation, and their contact details.
The best way to structure your CV is to use a template. Microsoft Word has its own templates and there are dozens of great websites where you can find nice looking templates that will help you develop the best CV. Click here for templates and more useful tips and tricks.
Now that you have a better idea of what information to include, you should keep the following things in mind:
- Keep your CV simple and uncluttered. Two pages should be more than enough.
- Make it stands out! Include details of specific achievements and quantify these where possible (e.g. Number of customers you assisted on a daily basis or the level of budget you were responsible for).
- Check your CV very thoroughly for any typos or errors. Spelling and grammar mistakes are unprofessional and easily avoidable.
- It’s a good idea to have one generic CV and tailor it to each specific job you are applying for. Each role has different responsibilities and requires certain skills and your CV should speak to these. It may sound like a lot of work but it will differentiate you from the other applicants if the recruiter can see exactly why you are the best candidate.
We hope this post has given you some useful ideas to produce an awesome CV. Remember that it’s your own personal sales brochure, so don’t be afraid to tell the best possible story about yourself. Happy job hunting!