CVs

​​Before you can apply for jobs, you will need to prepare your CV

Your CV must be accompanied by a covering letter or email, unless the advertisement specifically states that it shouldn’t be.
 
Sometimes you will be asked to complete an application form rather than send a CV, but you will still need the information which is in your CV. 
 
Keep it relevant!
Your CV must provide the employer with the most relevant information about you, your skills, and the qualities that you can bring to the job.
 
Each time you apply for a job, your CV should be customised so as to emphasise that you have the specific skills, experience and qualities that are required by the employer for that particular post.
 
When using online job boards, you will be asked to register with the sites and to upload your CV so that it can be automatically forwarded to the organisation advertising the vacancy when you click the Apply button (as described here). When you customise your CV in response to the requirements of a particular job you should be able to replace the previous version of your CV and send your new version. Some sites, such as Universal Jobmatch, allow you to have several versions of your CV and uploaded, each customised for different types of job.
 
The employer’s wish list:
You need to match what you have to offer to what each employer is looking for.
Take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and in one half put the heading What are they looking for? and in the other put Evidence!
 
Under the first heading, list the qualities, experience, skills and qualifications that you think the job requires. What is it that really matters to the organisation? Use any information you can find on the job and the organisation to work out what they are looking for - including the advert, job description, person specification, company brochures, details of projects on their website and other sources.
 
Opposite each item under Evidence! you should think of good examples from your work, studies or outside interests and daily life that demonstrate that you possess that particular skill or quality.  (Refer to the section on Identifying your skills, the list it suggests that you make and the success stories that you have practiced telling.)
 
Bear in mind – the employer will probably receive a lot of CVs for a vacancy and they will not have much time to look at each one. They are looking for evidence that you have the specific skills and experience that are required for the job on offer. If this evidence is not immediately obvious on your CV, you run the risk of being overlooked!
 
You must catch their attention so that they will invite you for an interview.
 
Make it look good!
It’s vital that your CV is well laid out and easy to follow:
   •  Use a consistent layout throughout your CV to present your information clearly and create a
      professional impression
   •  Careful use of bullet points and white space will help
   •  Use a font which is easy to read, such as Arial or Verdana
   •  Don’t make it any longer than two pages - printed on one side only of two sheets of good
      quality, white A4 paper
   •  Spelling mistakes must be avoided at all costs!
 
Again - the employer will not have time to look at pages and pages of detail. They might miss the important bits, the evidence that you possess the qualities they are looking for, ruling out your chances of an interview.
 
We will now look at what needs to be included in each section of your CV . . .
 
CV structure and content
   •  At the top, you need to put your name, address, telephone number(s) and email address. 
   •  You don't need to include your age, date of birth, nationality or marital status. 
   •  Don’t put a heading such as ‘Personal Information’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ for this section – it
      isn’t necessary and takes up space. Put your name in bold and make it larger than the rest  
      of your personal details, so that it will stand out and act as the heading.
 
For the following sections you should put in sub-headings:
 
PERSONAL PROFILE
   •  This is a short and snappy opening statement of around six to seven lines about your
      experience, qualities, skills and aims (objectives).
   •  Highlight your current situation, and two or three most of your most important skills and
      unique selling points. Make sure that you emphasise the skills and personal characteristics
      that are most relevant to the job for which you are applying.
   •  Then state your career objective, i.e. describe the type of job you’re now looking for, and
      why – e.g. that you are Now looking for a challenging job with an ambitious company
      in the furniture manufacturing sector.
 
KEY SKILLS
   •  This section should contain nine or ten concise statements about the skills you
      possess which are most relevant to the position you are applying for. See our example
      CVs on the right.
   •  Refer to the list we suggested you make of the skills and experience you have to offer an
      employer, and to what you have learned about the companies requirements.
 
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY (or WORK EXPERIENCE)
   •  Start this section by putting the details of your most recent or present job and working
      backwards.
   •  Put down your job title, then the name of the company or organisation, (say what the
      company does, unless it is a well known company), together with the town or city where you
      were based, and the start and finish dates. 
   •  Remember - Don't only refer to jobs you've been paid for. You could draw on many types
      of work experience, from holiday jobs, voluntary work, community projects, running a club,
      organising activities and travelling, to caring for a sick relative and raising children - if, while
      doing them, you have learned skills (often referred to as transferable skills) which will
      interest the potential employer. If you have this sort of information to include in this section,
      it might be better to give it the heading Work Experience rather than Employment History.
   • Then give a concise account of your role, responsibilities and achievements. Think about
      results – what difference did you make?  
   •  Concentrate on those skills and experiences which to show your suitability for the job you
      are applying for. As we said at the beginning of this section on CVs, each time you apply for
      a job your CV should, if possible, be tweaked so as to emphasise that you have the specific
      skills, experience and qualities that are required for that particular job. 
   •  Careful use of words and bullet points will keep it brief yet informative.  You might put down
      five or six bullet points for a recent or more relevant post, fewer for previous ones.
   •  Start each sentence in your CV with an action word and use the third person. Do not say I
      or My. For example, don't say “I was responsible for increasing sales through cold calling.”  
      Instead, this would sound better with an action word starting the sentence, “Increased sales
      through cold calling”. Don’t say, "I was responsible for the maintenance of accurate   
      records", say "Responsible for the maintenance of accurate records."
 
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
   •  Give the name of the qualification or course, the results, the name of the school or college
      you attended, the town or city in which it is located (unless that is obvious from the name of
      the institution), followed by the start and finish dates of the course.
   •  It’s not necessary to list all your GCSEs and their grades if you have gone on to do A Levels
      or other advanced qualifications. You could put something like: 4 GCSEs grades A-C,
      including English Language and Mathematics, AMGSW School, Leeds, 1991-1996. However
      you should put down each of your A Levels and their grades.
   •  A degree should be put down as, e.g. BEng Civil and Structural Engineering, 2:1,
      University of Leeds, 2007-2010. Beneath this you could then describe the most relevant
      modules or elements of the course.
   •  Don’t forget any short courses or training programmes you attended which may not have
      resulted in qualifications but which are relevant to the position to which you are applying -
      e.g. IT, foreign languages, health and safety, safe use of chemicals, first aid, project
      planning, etc.
   •  If you have qualifications from outside the United Kingdom, also state the comparable
      qualification level in the UK. The official agency that deals with comparisons is UK NARIC.
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
​   •  Draw attention to  achievements and interests not included elsewhere in your CV. Mention
      any hobbies, interests and activities, especially those that involve participation and people,
      and which demonstrate skills or qualities that support your application. These will give a
      prospective employer a more ‘fully rounded’ picture of your personal qualities and might
      include:
   •  Awards won.
   •  Representing your school, college, etc. at sport.
   •  Positions of responsibility. If you are the captain of a local football club, for example, or help
      to run one, this can show leadership and organisational skills. Fundraising would show that
      you are persuasive and able to handle negotiations. If you’re in a group of musicians, this
      can show teamwork and commitment. Try to show that you make things happen rather than
      just turn up. Their relevance to the job can be explained in more detail in your covering
      letter.
   •  Remember, voluntary work, if it is (or was) regular and substantial in nature should be
      included in your Employment History or Work Experience section, where it will be more
      noticeable. Treat it as a job like any other.
   •  It shows confidence and preparation if, for example, you have done some public speaking.
   •  Also mention membership of any relevant associations.
   •  If you have not put them in your Key Skills and Achievements, mention an ability to speak
      other languages or use computers.
   •  If you have a driving licence it might be relevant to say so.
   •  Avoid mentioning activities that might make you sound lazy, such as watching TV or surfing
      the net, or vague - don't just put reading or listening to music without being specific about
      what you like to read or listen to. What will you say in an interview if you’re asked about the
      best book you’ve read this year? Similarly, if you like going to the theatre or watching films,
      make sure that you could talk about something you’ve seen recently.
   •  Make sure that you include any interests and achievements that will help you to stand out
      from the crowd. But don't put down too many as this might show that you don't have time for
      work!
   •  Finish with the line: References available on request. (Include details of referees only if
      they have been asked for. Employers will usually ask you for their details if and when they
      are ready to offer you a position, i.e. after they have interviewed you.)
   •  One of your referees should be your most recent employer. If you haven't worked for a
      while, you could use another responsible person who has known you for some time,
      although this person cannot be a member of your family. School and college leavers with
      limited work experience can put down lecturers, teachers, or managers during work
      experience, etc.
   •  Make sure you ask your referees for their permission first.
   •  Nowadays, employers supply only factual details in response to requests for a reference,
      covering matters such as: Length of employment; Job title; Brief details of responsibility;
      Time-keeping and attendance; Reason for leaving; and reply with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ when
      asked whether or not they would ‘re-employ you’.
   •  When leaving a job, it’s a good idea to ask if your manager will write you a ‘letter of
      recommendation’, in case the company or organisation is no longer in existence when you
      need a reference.