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What’s the most important thing you’ll ever write?

A report, a pitch-winning presentation, an award-winning ad, a cheque?

Wrong. It’s that much-neglected and often hastily scribbled afterthought called your CV.

Because your CV, without putting too fine a point on it, is you on paper.

And chances are that you on paper, without the benefit of your personal charm and impeccable grooming, will be all, in the first instance, a recruiter or an employer will have to go on.

The fact is that a good CV is the most powerful ally you’ll ever have when you’re looking for work and it really is worth spending the time getting it absolutely right to help you sell yourself to an employer. This guide gives you some tips on how to write one.

What your CV should be:

• Neat, typed and well laid out.
• Concise, using two sides of A4 max.
• Positive, emphasizing your achievements, strengths, successes and impact on your employers’ bottom line, quoting figures wherever possible and using positive action words like ‘consulting’,‘negotiating’ and ‘managing’.
• Persuasive, presenting the facts about you in a clear and positive way.

Use your CV:

• To contact companies with a covering letter or email to enquire about any jobs available. Company contact details can be found in newspapers, trade or telephone directories.
• To remind you of what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you’ve achieved and when.
• To help with applications by phone if you are asked to give more information about previous jobs.
If you have hearing or speech difficulties and use textphone or Typetalk, having a copy of your CV to hand can also reduce the time you spend making a call.
• At interviews use your CV to refresh your memory while you’re waiting to be called. It’s also handy to have a copy for the interviewer to refer to if they do not already have one.
• To register with recruitment agencies who will often ask to see your CV before you can register.

What you’ll need to include:

• Your name.
• Your address.
• Your phone number.
• Your e-mail address (if you have one).
• Your career history, putting your most recent job first and including dates. Employers will be more interested in what you have done recently. Don’t leave gaps between dates, because employers will want to know what you did during those periods. If you don’t have much work experience, include temporary, holiday, part-time or voluntary jobs. If you’ve had a lot of different jobs, emphasise the positives by focusing on the variety of skills and experience you’ve acquired along the way (for example in customer service or communication skills).

Some other things you might want to put in:

• A personal profile : a short statement at the beginning of your CV to sell your skills, experience and personal qualities. Use positive words about yourself and tailor your statement to the needs of each job you apply for, making it clear to the employer that you’re the right person for the job.
• Achievements: list things you achieved in previous jobs which could be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
• Qualifications and training: list any qualifications and training from previous jobs (for example, in health and safety or a certificate in food hygiene).Put the most recent qualifications first but also include qualifications from school or college.
• Interests: these can be useful in supporting your application but mainly if your interests outside of work
demonstrate skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you belong to a club or society which you organize activities for, it will show an employer you have leadership or managerial skills.
• Other information : if there are gaps in your CV, for example if you had a career break through caring for children or elderly relatives, turn this into a positive, emphasizing the skills you needed to do it. If the gaps are because of time spent in prison or hospital, please see the ‘Other resources’ section of this pack for help on what to say.
If the job you’re applying for is different from what you’ve done in the past, it’s good to explain why you want to make the change.
• References: again it’s your call but it’s good to have two or more people who can provide a work or personal reference. Ideally, one should be your most recent employer. If you haven’t worked for a while it could be someone who has known you for a long time who can comment on the qualities you have that make you right for the job. Of course you should ask this person to agree to be a reference beforehand.

And, finally, don’t forget that new laws on age discrimination mean that you don’t need to put your age or date of birth on your CV so you need never be a day over 30!

Download CV Templates (link)