How to write a CV

When writing a CV, it is a good idea to keep is short and relevant to the job you are applying for

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Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) gives basic information about you, your education, work experience, skills and achievements. It is a document that you usually send to a potential employer if you are applying for a job. You usually will be asked to send a cover letter too. Cover letters explain why you want the job and what makes you the right person for it.

Most college careers services or youth information centres run CV workshops that will help you to get started. Ireland’s public employment service Intreo can also support you in creating a CV. Here are some additional tips that can help you when you are writing your CV.

Tips for writing a CV

It is important to tailor and change your CV for each job you apply for. However, no matter what kind of job you are interested in, there are certain tips worth considering when you are creating any CV. 

Keep things simple and concise

When it comes to writing a CV, try to keep it simple. Limit it to two pages of the most relevant and important information about you. This includes your education, qualifications, relevant jobs and work experience, achievements and interests that help prove you’ve got the right skills for the job. Look carefully at the job description and emphasise the skills or experience mentioned. There’s no need to include information that’s more than five years old, unless it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. You also do not need to include personal information such as your gender, nationality, marital status or a photo of you.

Check your language

The language that you use on your CV is very important. Try to keep sentences sharp and positive. For example:

“Developed training manual for new employees.”

“Gained valuable experience in team-leading and problem-solving.”

Make sure to talk about your achievements and don’t include what you can’t do. Try to be original with your language. While it can be tough trying to describe yourself in a unique way, doing so will help your CV to stand out among others.

Make sure the document is neat and easy to read

The way that you present information is nearly as important as the information itself. By making sure your CV is neat and easy to read, you will increase your chances of the employer reading it and contacting you. 

It is a good idea to use a clear, easy to read letter font like Arial or Times New Roman. Start with your name and contact details at the top so that they are easy to see. Type the CV in black font and, if you are printing, print it on white A4 sized paper. If you are sending it by email, consider sending it to yourself first to make sure the formatting is correct. Make sure to save the document with your name in the title.

Be honest about your experience

It is important to be honest about your experience and skills. If you are dishonest, it is quite likely that the employer will find out about it. 

If you don’t have much work experience, there are still things that you can put on your CV that will help you to stand out. Find out more about what to write on your CV if you don’t have much experience.

You can also find out more about how to improve your skills and employability.

Check in with your referees

If you are asked for references, you can include the contact information of a past employer, teacher, volunteer coordinator or sports coach. However, before listing them, you need to make sure to ask that person if they will give you a reference. If you are not asked for references or if you haven’t contacted them for approval yet, you can write “References available on request” at the end of your CV.

Review your CV before sending it

It is always a good idea to check your CV for errors before you send it. Read over the finished CV a few times and make sure there are no spelling mistakes. It can be helpful to ask somebody else to read through it too. They might spot mistakes that you did not notice. 

How to create an ATS-friendly CV

Some employers will use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software to help them to sort through CVs. ATS software scans through the details in each CV and passes only the most suitable ones to the hiring manager.

An ATS-friendly CV is one that has been created in such a way to improve the chances of it being seen by employers. By using specific keywords, layout and design, you are more likely to have your CV read. 

To make an ATS-friendly CV, you can:

  • Include the important keywords used in the job description
  • Choose the correct file type. If this is not specified, save your CV as either a PDF or Word Document
  • Keep the formatting simple
  • Avoid using graphs, images, tables, headers, footers, logos, less common fonts and uncommon section headings

CV checklist

Before submitting your CV, make sure you have covered all of these points:

  • Does the formatting look nice and simple?
  • Did you include a mobile phone number and an email address that you check regularly?
  • Did you leave out personal information such as your gender?
  • Did you include your education, relevant jobs and work experience, achievements, skills and interests?
  • Did you account for any gaps in your CV?
  • Did you stay honest about your qualifications?
  • Did you use positive and concise language?
  • Did you use action verbs to highlight your achievements?
  • Is your CV relevant to the job you are applying to? Did you tailor it?
  • Did you include a cover letter with your CV?
  • Did you proofread for grammar mistakes?
  • Did you get someone else to read over your CV?
  • Is your CV document saved under your own name?

Find our sample CV.

Read more about finding a job and interview skills.

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