What is a CV?
A CV is a document that tells a prospective employer about you and your:
- work history
- personal interests
It needs to make a good impression as it is often the first point of contact an employer will have with you. As a school or college leaver, your CV will look quite different to someone who has several years of work experience. Your CV should focus on your skills and recent studies. It is also important to include any work experience that you have gained (including Trident work experience).
The downloadable example is designed to give you an idea of what your CV should look like with an explanation of each section below.
Example of school leaver CV
Example of graduate CV
What does my CV need to include?
This should include your:
- telephone number(s)
- email address - use a professional email address format - i.e. not email@example.com
- residential qualifications
It does not need to include:
- date of birth
This is a short, high impact statement in which to sell yourself. It should include the area of work you want to move into and a summary of what you have to offer an employer. For example:
“I am currently looking for an office-based position where I can develop my computer and administration skills. I am highly organised, work well with others and I am happy to undertake any necessary training that may be required.”
Ideally you should list 4 or 5 skills that match the job you are applying for, with a brief statement evidencing each skill. For example:
Information and Technology - I have a working knowledge of computers and have recently updated my skills by passing the ECDL examinations.
Education and qualifications
In this section you should list where you were educated (secondary school and beyond), the dates you attended each institution and the qualifications you have gained, starting with the most recent first. For vocational qualifications include the modules or units you have studied.
This should feature both paid and unpaid work, including Trident work experience and holiday / weekend work. Always start with your most recent job first and include the employer name, dates, job title and work responsibilities.
Additional qualifications and achievements
List any further achievements / qualifications not already noted in the above sections, this may include out-of-school activities such as sporting or musical achievements, charity fundraising or services you have carried out in the community. For example:
“I have recently completed a First Aid in the Workplace training course”.
Include current hobbies only and explain the skills that you have developed from these.
Include details of 2 people who have agreed to provide references for you, with name, job title, postal address, email address and telephone number (wherever possible). Ideally 1 referee should be from your school or college and the other from a workplace. If you haven’t had the chance to ask people to provide references for you, simply state ‘available upon request’.
General CV guidance
- tailor your CV for the specific job you are applying for, focusing on your strengths relevant to the role
- be concise; your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages long - think quality, not quantity
- ensure your CV is typed and set out in a clear and easy to read way.‘Arial’ font, size 14 for titles, size 11 or 12 for all other text is recommended
- make sure you are consistent in the formatting of your CV, for example if you are using bullet points, keep them all the same, don’t mix between arrows and stars
- use an appropriate email address (for example firstname.lastname@example.org would not be appropriate)
- stick to black and white as CVs prepared in colour may not be printed in colour, making them harder to read
- ask a friend of family member to check your CV for spelling mistakes and information you may have forgotten to include. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can pick up something you have missed
- make false or exaggerated claims about qualifications or experience. You are likely to be asked to produce evidence of your qualifications
- don’t include primary school education
- don’t include ‘socialising with friends’ as a hobby
- enclose copies of references
- include salary required – there is a high risk of over or under estimating your worth, which can put employers off
- enclose a photograph with your CV
- show tables on your CV. They can be useful to create a neat and well formatted style but you should hide the lines before sending it to employers
Before you send off your CV
Be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- does my CV answer any questions a potential employer might have about me?
- have I checked for spelling mistakes?