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Writing and Checking your CV

Your CV

Before you can apply for any jobs you need a CV. This is a marketing document used to present you as a personal brand. It demonstrates your skills and experiences and what you can bring to an employer. Structure Ideally you want your CV to be between 1 and 2 pages long, no more than 2 pages and no less than 1 page. You should include the following:

  • Profile: A very brief paragraph (2-3 lines max) summarising your skills and qualities, tailored to each job that you are applying for.
  • Key Skills: A couple of bullet points, explaining your main skills and/or key areas of expertise that you are selling to employers. Recruiters may use search engines and other specialist software to look for candidates with your specific skills. Be prepared to answer questions about these at interview.
  • Employment details: It is not enough to simply list every job you have ever had, stick to recent (last 10 years) and relevant. Include the company name, dates, job title and outline of duties. Account for any gaps in your CV in a positive way, such as studying or bringing up children. You do not need to give your reason for leaving.
  • Education and Training: Provide a brief list of your education (secondary, higher and further), qualifications and training, including dates attended and the name of the institution listed in reverse chronological order. If you failed a qualification or exam then it is best to leave it out. Also, you do not need to list your GCSEs (or O Levels). Just say how many you have and where you studied and only include subjects that are relevant (e.g. Chemistry for work in a Chemistry lab).
  • Leisure and Interests – This can really help the employer better understand whether you will be a good fit for their company. List any hobbies you have, and interests or volunteering you are engaged with.
  • References – You do not need to include references at the end of the CV as these are normally not required until you have attended an interview or been made an offer. If they are specifically asked for, you may include them on a separate sheet of paper.

Checking your CV

  1. Ensure that the same formatting is used throughout. You can use bold or italics to emphasise something – do not underline. Use a readable font such as Arial or Times New Roman and also a decent size – but not huge.
  2. Proof Read your CV. In a competitive marketplace a single spelling mistake on your CV can be seriously costly. Therefore, read your CV multiple times to make sure it reads nicely and there are no spelling mistakes or errors. Don’t rely on spell-check as it doesn’t always work.
  3. Read your CV again, and again, and again. Then give it to a friend and ask them to read through it. They may find mistakes which you have missed.
  4. Check your CV is the right length. If it is too short, think about other information you can include, building your skills and experience on your CV.
  5. Check the skills, experience, and profile on your CV against the requirements of the job role listed in the advert.

For support in finding employment please register for our Skills Support for Jobseekers programme, or use the contact form below to request more information.

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