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How to write a CV

Tips on writing a CV


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in employment


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Your CV (Curriculum Vitae) and cover letter are usually the first impression that a company or organisation gets of you, so you have to make it the best it can be. That means knowing how to make your achievements shine.

CVs give basic information about you, your education, work experience, skills and achievements. 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 but here are some easy tips to write the best CV possible.

Tips for writing a CV

  • Keep it simple. Print the CV in black ink on white A4 sized paper 
  • Use a clear, easy to read letter font like Arial or Times New Roman
  • Limit it to two pages of the most relevant and important information about you 
  • Start with your name and contact details at the top so that they're easy to see
  • Include 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
  • Don't include personal information such as your gender, nationality, martial status or a photo of you
  • Don't lie about your experience and skills. You’ll get caught eventually
  • Make sure you can account for any gaps in your CV – as you may get asked about this at interview
  • If you're asked for referees, include the contact information of a past employer, teacher or sports coach - Make sure to ask that person if they will give you a reference in advance, if you're not asked write 'References available on request' at the end of your CV
  • Tailor and change your CV for each job you apply for
  • Read over the finished CV a few times and make sure there are no spelling mistakes 
  • Get someone else to read it and check it for mistakes and typos before you email it off
  • Send it to yourself as well to make sure the formatting is correct
  • If you're emailing your CV, make sure to save the doc in your own name. If it's just 'CV.doc,' it will get lost in a pile

CV language

  • Keep sentences sharp and positive. Some examples are “Developed training manual for new employees” or “Gained valuable experience in team-leading and problem solving.”
  • Be concise because chances are, your CV will be scanned in 30 seconds 
  • Use action verbs to highlight your achievements, not verbs such as "Responsible for"
  • Use bullet points to list your duties, skills and achievements in recent jobs
  • Try to be original, even when it can be tough trying to describe yourself. Check out LinkedIn's list of the most overused words on Irish CVs and avoid them
  • Don’t include useless information just to fill space
  • Keep your CV positive. Make sure to talk about your achievements and don't include what you can't do

CV checklist

  • Does the formatting look nice and simple?
  • Did you included 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 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?

Watch our CV tips video here:

Find our sample CV here.

Don't forget we also have plenty more information about writing a cover letter, finding a job, and interview skills. You can also learn how to present your life skills for an outstanding CV and prepare for a job interview with SkillsSummary.ie.

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Published March 4th2013
Tags work jobs cv
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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