What is a CV?

Not sure what to do on your CV? We can help with that…

A CV is an essential part of any job search, not to mention a great way to put all of your skills, experience, and qualifications in one place. In fact, a well written CV could be the difference between getting an interview and not being considered for the role.

To help you understand what they’re all about, and make yours work harder for you, here are a few things you should know about CVs:

 

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What is a CV?

A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé), is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience.

They may be used for a variety of reasons, however, the most common of these is to send to prospective employers when looking for a new job.

 

What should a CV include?

Although there’s no official CV structure, certain key information should always be included.

Here a few essential things you should aim to cover in your CV:

  • Your personal details (e.g. name, address, phone number)
  • A personal statement (a brief personal summary of who you are and what you’re looking for)
  • Relevant key skills
  • Work experience (listed in reverse chronological order – with the most recent coming first)
  • Education and qualifications (listed in reverse chronological order)
  • Hobbies and interests (if you think they might help you get the job)
  • References (often available on request)

Free CV template

How to write a CV

What not to do on your CV

 

What is a CV used for?

You’ll usually be required to submit your CV during the initial application stage for a job, often in conjunction with a cover letter or application form.

An employer will then be able to judge it in line with their person specification and company needs, to see if you’re a good fit.

If you are, you’ll usually be invited to interview, whether it’s on the phone, face-to-face, or through a video format. If that goes well, you could then be offered the job.

A CV will also be needed to apply for: internships, work experience, or volunteer work.

What recruiters really want in your CV

Four ways to help recruiters find your CV

 

How should a CV be formatted?

The layout of your CV says a lot about you as a candidate, and the presentation is just as important as the content.

After all, how is a recruiter going to see your skills and experience if they’re written in size 10 Comic Sans, in one paragraph, filled with spelling mistakes? It also wouldn’t be a good example of your organisational skills or attention to detail.

To make sure your CV is clear, concise, succinct, and easy to read – it’s always best to follow these key rules:

  • Be logical
  • Keep it brief (and relevant)
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Choose a professional font
  • Use headings and bullet points
  • Use a template

CV layout dos and don’ts

 

How many types of CVs are there?

There are many different ways you can get your skills across to recruiters – and it doesn’t always have to be in writing (yes, video CVs are a thing).

Whether you want to draw attention to your education, prove your creative abilities, or place an emphasis on your relevant skills, it’s all about tailoring your CV according to your strengths, and the industry you’re applying for work in.

It may also depend on your previous experience, or current circumstances. A graduate CV, for example, will look a lot different from the CV of someone returning after a career break or redundancy.

Here are a few more CV types you could choose from:

  • Creative CV (for showing skills in marketing, design, and other creative fields)
  • Technical CV (for IT-based positions)
  • Teaching CV (for teaching roles)
  • Academic CV (for research/lecturing based positions or PhDs)
  • Skills-based CV (for those with little work experience)

 

How long should a CV be?

Size matters when it comes to your CV.

In fact, 91% of recruiters see a Word document of two to three pages as the perfect CV length – so always aim to keep it short and sweet.

Only include what’s going to make you a good fit for the role you’re applying for, and don’t overdo it with unnecessary detail. You can always use your cover letter to elaborate on any skills and experience you didn’t have room for in your CV.

As long as they’re relevant, of course.

How to keep your CV short and sweet

 

Are CVs actually read by anyone?

First things first: CVs are actually read by real recruiters (not robots) – despite what you may have heard.

It also isn’t true that you don’t need a CV anymore. Even with the growth of social media and other non-conventional methods, CVs are still an integral part of the hiring process, not to mention a great way to sell yourself to a role.

So instead of filling it with keywords and meaningless phrases, make sure it’s actually readable – and tailored to the role you’re applying for. Also, always ensure your skills are backed up with real examples. That way, you’re far more likely to hold an employer’s attention.

After all, they hear clichés and buzzwords every day. So even if you are a ‘perfectionist with great multitasking skills’ – you have to personalise your CV, to make it different from the rest.

What words should I use on my CV?

Eight myths about CVs

Five lines that are killing your CV

 

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