Your CV is a really important document that helps you to get a job. Without one, you may struggle to apply for jobs and kickstart your career. If you’ve already got a CV, it’s really important to make sure it’s a great one, and has all the different sections to help you get a job. But how do you actually write a CV and what are the different sections needed? This helpful guide contains a step by step approach, tips and a template to help you write or develop your CV.
What is a CV?
A CV is short for Curriculum Vitae, which literally means ‘a short written summary of a person’s career, qualifications, and education’. It’s basically a document that summarises your educational qualifications, work experience, skills and achievements. With so much conflicting information out there, it can be really hard to work out what you should include and what you shouldn’t. Enna has created this guide to help you get started, just follow the instructions below!
How long should a CV be?
It can be tricky to determine how long your CV should be. Follow these rules below to determine how long your CV should be:
If you’ve just left school, it’s very likely you might have had one or two part-time jobs. A one page CV is usually sufficient in highlighting your education and any relevant experience such as volunteering work or extracurricular activities you’ve completed.
If you’re a graduate, we would recommend your CV be around 1.5 to 2 pages long. You’re likely to have limited work experience (you might have completed volunteering work or internships) so your CV should focus on any relevant university modules, projects and extracurricular work.
If you’ve left education and have kickstarted your career, your CV should be around two pages long.
For more experienced professionals, a two to three page CV may be necessary to provide a comprehensive summary of your qualifications, work experience, achievements and skills.
What to include in your CV
- Personal information – Including your full name, address, phone number and email address. You don’t need to include your date of birth.
- Personal profile – A personal profile is a concise statement that highlights your key attributes and helps you stand out from the crowd. Usually placed at the beginning of a CV it picks out a few relevant achievements and skills, while expressing your career aims.
- Experience / Work history – List of your previous employers, job titles, employment dates and descriptions of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Key Skills – are words and phrases that describe the core areas of expertise you have that will enable to you to do the job you are applying for.
- Education – List of your educational institutions attended, any degrees obtained and any relevant coursework and projects.
- References – You don’t need to provide the names of referees at this stage. You can say ‘References available upon request’ but most employers would assume this to be the case so if you’re stuck for space you can leave this out.
Follow our instructions below to complete each section of your CV.
How to develop your CV
Before we start to put your CV together, it’s really important to have a great template that is clear and easy to read. You can download Enna’s CV template below, and follow the steps to develop your CV.
Before you start developing the main sections of your CV, you should always start by inputting your personal information so employers can get in touch with you if they want to offer you an interview.
You should only include your:
- Name at the top of the page – there’s no need to add ‘CV’ or ‘curriculum vitae’
- Phone number which can employers can reach you during the working day
- Email address – always use a professional sounding email address
You do not need to include:
- Date of birth
- Marital status
A personal profile, also known as a personal statement, is a brief summary of your career goals, your achievements, and skills. It is typically located at the beginning of the CV, and is meant to provide a snap shot of your qualifications and experience.
The purpose of your personal profile is to capture the attention of the employer or recruiter and encourage them to continue to read the rest of your CV when applying for a job.
A personal profile should include:
- Career goals: You should include a brief statement about your career goals and what you hope to achieve in the role you’re applying for.
- Relevant experience: You should include a summary of any relevant experience.
- Skills: You should include any relevant skills and strengths you have relating to the job.
The work history section of your CV is where you should outline your previous work experience in a way that helps demonstrate your skills and accomplishments. This could include paid, voluntary or work experience you’ve completed.
Follow these instructions to write the work history section:
- Start with your most recent job (if you have one). List the rest of your jobs in reverse chronological order.
- Include the job title.
- Include the organisations’ name of who employed you.
- Include the dates of your employment – the month and the year you started, and the month and year you finished. If you’re currently working there, put month and year – present.
- Use bullet points to list the responsibilities of each job.
- Wherever you can, list the key achievements of each job you’ve done.
The education section of your CV should provide an overview of your educational background, including any qualifications or degrees you’ve obtained, as well as any relevant coursework, research projects or academic achievements.
Follow these instructions to write the education section of your CV:
- Start with your most recent degree or qualification. List this first, followed by all the others that follow (reverse chronological order).
- Include the name of the institution and the qualification you earnt.
- Include the dates of your attendance, including the month and year when you started and the month and year when you completed it.
The skills section of your CV shows employers you have the abilities and knowledge required to succeed in the role you are applying for. Often, employers pay special attention to the skills section to determine who should move on to the next step of the hiring process.
Some skills may be more relevant to the role than others and you do not need to list all of your skills, just include 5-10 key skills that you feel are relevant to the position you are applying for.
There are two main types of skills you could include in your skills section: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard Skills are usually specific to the industry or type of role you are applying for. These are generally the skills you have learnt in an educational setting or received certified training for such as a Project Management qualification, Artificial intelligence or Data analysis skills.
See some more examples of hard skills here: Hard Skills examples
Soft skills are more related to your personal attributes. They are your abilities that can be applied to any role and illustrate the way you interact and work with other people. These are transferrable skills like communication and leadership that aren’t specific to a particular industry or role.
See some examples of soft skills here: Soft Skills examples
A reference section in a CV is a section that lists the content information of individuals who can provide a reference for your work. Typically, an employer will ask for references after reviewing your CV and after conducting an interview. The purpose of references is to provide an employer with the contact information of people who can vouch for your work ethic, skills and character.
Note: Make sure you obtain permission from your references before including their contact information on your CV, to ensure they are willing and able to provide a reference for you!
All you need to do is write ‘References available upon request’ at the very bottom of your CV.
CV do’s and don’ts
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