Before you start: Five basic principles for a good CV
1. Concentrate on the essentials • Employers generally spend less than one minute reading a CV before deciding to reject it, or to shortlist it for detailed consideration. If you fail to make the right impact, you missed your chance. • If applying for an advertised vacancy, always ensure that you comply with any application process entirely. The vacancy notice might specify: how to apply (CV, application form, online application), the length and/or format of the CV, whether a covering letter is required, etc. • Be brief: two A4 pages are usually more than enough, irrespective of your education or experience. Do not exceed three pages. If you hold a degree, include your secondary school qualifications only if relevant to the job in question. • Is your work experience limited? Describe your education and training first; highlight volunteering activities and placements or traineeships.
2. Be clear and concise • Use short sentences. Avoid clichés. Concentrate on the relevant aspects of your training and work experience. • Give specific examples. Quantify your achievements. • Update your CV as your experience develops. Don’t hesitate to remove old information if it does not add value for the position.
3. Always adapt your CV to suit the post you are applying for • Highlight your strengths according to the needs of the employer and focus on the skills that match the job. • Do not include work experience or training which is not relevant to the application. • Explain any breaks in your studies or career giving examples of any transferable skills you might have learned during your break. • Before sending your CV to an employer, check again that it corresponds to the required profile. • Do not artificially inflate your CV; if you do, you are likely to be found out at the interview.
4. Pay attention to the presentation of your CV • Present your skills and competences clearly and logically, so that your advantages stand out. • Put the most relevant information first. • Pay attention to spelling and punctuation. • Print your CV on white paper (unless you are asked to send it electronically). • Retain the suggested font and layout.
5. Check your CV once you have filled it in • Correct any spelling mistakes, and ensure the layout is clear and logical. • Have someone else re-read your CV so that you are sure the content is clear and easy to understand. • Do not forget to write a cover letter.