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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
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Writing Your CV

When you are writing or updating your CV, you have to remember that your CV is your selling point! 

It is reported that a recruiter / employer may spend as little as 6 seconds when they first see your CV. Those 6 seconds could be the deciding factor in whether they will look at your CV in more detail or whether you will go into the ‘NO’ pile.

Before you start to write or update your CV, remember the basic principles;

  • The Formatting: When formatting your CV, it has to look neat and professional. A good way to do this is to make use of bullet points and the tab function on your keyboard to separate out spaces. Do not insert colour backgrounds or your picture on your CV as this is not necessary. To make sure your CV doesn’t lose formatting when opened on another computer or software, save and send as a PDF. Your name should be in big font so they can spot your CV and remember your name easily. 
  • Fonts: Stick to one standard black font such as Arial or Calibri for all headings, subheadings and normal text. Do not use coloured or cartoon fonts such as Comic Sans or Ravie.
  • Structure: A CV should be 2 pages maximum; it should be easy to read and follow which means being clear and concise. Try not to repeat the same information twice in your CV.

Below are some of the key areas which should be included on your CV. Click to have tips and examples drop down.

Personal Details

You must always put your main personal details in an area at the very top of your CV so that employers know who you are and how to contact you. Your personal details should include your full name, address, contact number and email. There is no need to put in your date of birth, religion or marital status. 

Don't forget, employers get a lot of CVs, one way to make sure your CV stands out, put your name in a large font at the very top of the page. 

Example

John Smith
123 Orchard Ave, Blackrock, Co.Dublin
smith.john@gmail.com | 087 1234567 | 01 1234567

TIP: Use a professional email address that includes your full name and not one that you set up when you were a teenager that is something like this, ‘sexyjohnxx@hotmail.com’. If you do not have another email address, it is worth setting up a new account that is only used for professional purposes such as applying for jobs etc …

Personal Profile

Your Personal Profile can also be called ‘Career Objective’. This a short section, usually 2 or 3 sentences where you outline your particular interest and what skills you can offer to the job you are applying for. Remember it has to make the employer want to read your CV further so you should make it clear and concise and unique to you.

Example

I am an enthusiastic and self-motivated Business graduate who is resourceful and pro-active. I have developed leadership qualities within a team using effective communication skills and I am keen to develop a career in the area of Marketing in expanding market penetration and driving sales.

TIP: It's not necessary to have a personal profile but it’s a great way to introduce yourself if your job application does not require you to send in a cover letter.

Education

You should put your most relevant and recent qualifications first then work backwards, there is no need to include your Junior Certificate results! It is worth noting the modules of your course however you do not need to include the individual grades of all modules, just your overall result. Keep the style and formatting the same for all of your educational details to make it easy to read.

Example

2012 - 2013 Masters in Accounting, University College Dublin 2.1
Modules: Management Accounting, Advanced Financial Accounting, Auditing and Assurance, Taxation, Financial Reporting, Management Control System, Corporate Governance Code & Ethics.

or

2.1 Masters in Accounting from University College Dublin (2012 - 2013)
Modules included: Management Accounting, Advanced Financial Accounting, Auditing and Assurance, Taxation, Financial Reporting, Management Control System, Corporate Governance Code & Ethics.

TIP: Remember to include the full title of your degree/qualification, the years of study and the grade obtained. If you haven’t graduated yet, insert your most recent grade along with your expected month and year of graduation and the expected grade.

Work Experience

This section on your CV is worth spending time on as you may want to include everything you have ever done but it is best practice to only include work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. You can include your voluntary experience here also but you should make it clear when writing your CV, for example, creating a Voluntary Work Experience sub-heading. Always include your job title, company/employer name and the dates (month, year) worked there along with a list of responsibilities and achievements while in the job.

Example

Jan 2009 -Present Supervalu, Dublin Road, Dublin Sales Assistant

  • Reliably handled large sums of money on a daily basis, balancing cash at close of business and assisted with store security.
  • Maintained good humour, customer service, tact & patience with the public.
  • Successfully adapted to different roles at short notice both in front and back office.

Sept 2011 - June 2012 Dublin City University Student Union Welfare Officer

  • Advocating for student welfare issues in relation to topics such as mental health, sexual awareness, crisis pregnancy, finances and accommodation.
  • Liaised with other student services provided and organised awareness days/weeks throughout the college.
  • Managed the Student Union’s social media sites and created new sections on the website.

Skills Profile

This section is a great way of being able to tell a potential employer what skills you have gained and shows what you can contribute to the company or organisation. The most common sub-headings within this section should include; IT Skills, Communication Skills and Teamwork. You should tailor this section depending on the job you are applying for and include additional sub-headings such as Project Management, Languages, Research Skills, Leadership Skills etc… It may be worthwhile also to insert an Achievements sub-heading to list any significant awards or certificates you have received.

Example

IT Skills: Proficient in Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access) with the ability to design promotional material using Adobe Illustrator. Knowledgeable in using SAGE Payroll software.

Communication Skills: Excellent communication skills developed through researching, writing assignments, interviewing participants for my thesis and delivering presentations while in college.

Teamwork: Proven ability to work with a wide demographic of people during my volunteer work with Fighting Blindness whilst being involved in fundraising drives with a large team and the public.

TIP: Check the job description of the position you are applying for see what skills they list and make sub-headings relevant to that!

Interests

Not all CVs have an Interests section but sometimes this is a place to highlight a little bit of your personality what you enjoy doing. When talking about your Interests, try to back it up with an interesting fact and keep it short! 2 or 3 sentences is enough for this section.

Example

Passionate about getting involved in charity work and volunteer once a week at my local day centre for people with Alzheimer. Enjoy walking and have participated in the Flora’s Women Mini Marathon twice in 2010 and 2011. I enjoy exploring new cities and have been inter-railing in Europe during the summer of 2009.

TIP: If you have a driving licence, why not include this information in your CV also?

References

You should always have at least 2 references or more available but ensure to ask the person for permission beforehand. Insert the person’s name, their job title, company/organisation and contact details such as phone number and email address.

Example

Audrey Hepburn, Assistant Manager, Hollywood Productions
01 1234567 | a.hepburn@hollywood.com
Joe Bloggs, Associate Lecturer, University College Dublin
01 1234567 | joe.bloggs@ucd.com

TIP: You do not always have to include references, and if you are running out of space on your CV, instead of trying to make your references fit or it going onto another page, you can always state at the bottom of your CV; *References available on request*

 

Checklist

After you have completed your CV, why not answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the following checklist? If you have mostly ‘Yes’ answers, then you can send it off to a potential employer!

  1. Have you proofread your CV for spelling and grammar mistakes?
  2. Does the formatting look professional and there are no more than 2 fonts used?
  3. Does it fit on 2 pages?
  4. Are all of your personal details correct?
  5. Is your name in large font so that it stands out?
  6. Is there a clear structure on your CV with good headings?
  7. Are the dates correct and each heading reads from most recent to oldest?
  8. Have you sent it to someone who can give you an honest opinion and can offer constructive feedback on your CV?
  9. Have you described your work experience responsibilities and learning accurately?
  10. Have you included your certificates, awards, additional qualifications?
  11. Have you included references or an “available on request” statement?

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