CV format explained
In a nutshell, CV is a powerful marketing document, which ideally should market you to a prospective employer ahead of other applicants. The trick is - you have one page to sell yourself. It is important to realise that the purpose of a CV is not to get a job, but to get on the short list for an INTERVIEW. You do not need to write your life history: don’t tell them everything or you will have nothing left to talk about at the interview! Only write what is relevant to the post you are applying for.
You need to match the content of your CV to the needs of the organisation you are applying to. It should highlight your education, academic history, skills and any work experience you have which will enhance your application. Use evidence to demonstrate that you can provide the skills the organisation needs.
In general there are two formats outlined below can be used for any application for many jobs including managerial, professional, administration and any other non-academic job.
- A Chronological layout gives an historical account of your career path so far. This is the format most people are familiar with – we have called this the ‘Classic CV’.
- A Skills layout places emphasis on the skills, experience and strengths you have acquired and can offer the employer. It is not written chronologically but under headings, which prioritise and match the skills the employer is looking for.
The chronological format tends to be used by new graduates or those with less work experience. You need to choose which of the two layouts suit you best and what you are most comfortable writing.
The Do’s and Don’ts
- Use clear font style – why not look at Tahoma, Verdana, Cambria or Calibri.
- Capitalise and bold your major headings and use bold for any sub-headings
- Use one font style
- Be crisp and concise
- Be appropriate to your situation
- Make it attractive and appealing to the eye
- Write in statements – bullet points are most effective
- Avoid using the word ‘I’
- Use action/power words at the beginning of each statement (See end of this section for examples)
- Do not be afraid of white space
- Make sure it is one pages long – max!
- Include your photograph
- Copy job descriptions
- Non-essential personal information
- Long sentences
- Use big lists – such as your GCSE’s
- Make your CV longer than one page
Some Layout Suggestions
1. Write your name in the top of the page. Use a large font – this is you – this is what you are marketing! Your date of birth is NOT necessary.
2. Put a line between your contact information and the main body of your CV. It gives your CV more definition.
3. Write an Objective if you are sending your CV speculatively to an organisation. They do not want to second-guess what you are looking for.
4. Prioritisation of information. For example:
Played football for the University and was captain
Captain of University football team
The second example would be the preferred option as it highlights that you were captain and could lead a team not that you played football.
5. Be consistent – make it easy for the reader to find out all about you in a logical and readable layout. For instance, write your dates in the same place – perhaps always on the left-hand margin.
Possible key words to use on your CV:
Increasingly, applicants are asked to send a digital copy of a CV. If this is the case then the first set of "eyes" to see it might be an automated search for action/power words. Select those, which match the opportunity you are applying – the clues will be in the job description.
Your CV Checklist:
- Is it in a consistent and readable format? First impressions matter – how your CV is laid out tells the person who is reading it, a lot about you – see about being consistent mentioned above.
- Does the document emphasise your skills and achievements?
- Does it tell the reader what they need/want to know about you? Look at what you have written from the employer’s perspective – is it logical and fluid?
- Is it accurate? Check your documents for spelling and grammar
- Have you used enough white space? Do not put too much information on a page
- Have you prioritised your information and used words, which make you sound proactive and positive?
- Have you asked your referees if it is OK to give their names before you include them?
- Have you used abbreviations? Explain them.
- Have you asked someone to proof read your CV before sending it?
- Have you told the truth?
- Have you kept a copy?