Writing a CV

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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This being a guide for adult learners, a high proportion of readers will have supplied a CV to recruitment agencies and employers several times in the past. This does not mean however, that your CV is not in need of a polish. Successive series of The Apprentice has taught us that even the young hotshots of the business world have glaring errors in their r sum s. And for anyone compiling their CV for the first time, the following guidelines help to get it right from the outset.

Your CV is where you get to sell yourself to potential employers; you have the chance to show off and highlight your good points. Never use the same CV twice but tailor each application to the particular job on offer. A typical CV is no longer than TWO pages employers don t want to know about that time you won the egg and spoon race! Make sure you do include all the following points though

Style & Design

The CV should be easy to read with plenty of white space between sections. Do not

include several different fonts or use over elaborate design (although a bit of creativity is

suitable for artistic roles). The language should be kept simple and easy-to-understand, and

short explanations provided where required. Not everyone will know what bi-quarterly

deployment project management is.

Opening Paragraph/Objective

Begin with a sentence or two describing your career goals and summarising

why you are perfect for the job available.

Personal Details

Keep this part short and sweet. You are not obliged to put in your date of birth, but

your school history is usually a giveaway anyway. You may also wish to include your gender if

you have a gender-neutral name, e. g. Chris. Include contact information so employers can get in

touch with you they will need your home address, mobile number and email address.


This should include the name

and location of each school and college attended, as well as the year of award and mark

achieved for all qualifications from the Leaving Certificate onwards (include the Junior/Inter Cert

if you never completed sixth year).



Include the employer s name, your specific job title and a summary

of your responsibilities and achievements. Try and avoid overly technical jargon that only a

specialist would understand. Employers want to know what you did in plain speaking. Start with

your most recent job, but don t worry if you don t have more than one, or even none. However,

don t sell yourself short. Even if you don t count helping out in your aunt s shop as work,

employers will.

Interests and Achievements

This is

your chance to impress an employer with your positive characteristics and to let some of your

personality shine through. Pick attributes and hobbies that you can link to the job you are going

for people skills, artistic tendencies and sporting triumphs are all favourable.


You will need the names and contact details of two

people who will vouch for your character. Pick people who know you well ask permission in

advance so the referees will not be surprised to get a call.

Once you have finished,

show it to friends or family and get them to read through it for any grammar and spelling

mistakes. It can also be a good idea to ask for their general impression of your CV was it easy

to read, is there anything you should add You don t necessarily have to take their advice but it

is often helpful to have it.

Obviously you want to present yourself in the best

possible light in your CV, but avoid the temptation to make things up. Blatant exaggerations and

total lies will usually get found out during an interview, and they will blow your chances


The Cover Letter

The cover letter that

you put with your CV and/or completed application form is also very important. This should be

less than one page and to the point. Mention the position you are applying for and where you

saw the job ad. Highlight the skills and experiences that make you a suitable candidate. Tell the

employer why you think you would be good at the job e. g. an outgoing personality would be an

important asset for a sales position.

It is also essential to write a cover letter if you

are applying to a company on spec that is, you haven t seen a position advertised but you

want them to think of you if a job does come up. In this case, state what area you would like to

work in and why you think you would be good at it, and ask to be informed if any such position


By email

Be careful when you are sending your

CV by email. Pay as much attention to the email as you would to a traditional cover letter. Don t

use emoticons. Save the file with your CV as MY NAME CV. doc to make it easier for the

employer to pick out. It is very, very embarrassing to have to send a second email apologising

for forgetting to send the attachment first time around.

Frank Bolger

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