If you’re applying for a job it’s highly likely that in most cases the person looking to hire you will require a CV. A CV in its most basic form is a type written document that gives an outline of your educational background and work/professional history which is detailed on paper or captured in an electronic format.

CV is the modern shorthand for Curriculum Vitae, the Latin word which literally means ‘the course of your life’. Your CV will chart your skills and achievements throughout your career so you really need to understand the importance of this document. Your CV is your personal introduction to ‘you’ and what you can do for your future employer.

Irrespective of whether you’re applying for a job online, in person or through a recommendation, the person hiring you will need a summary of who you are and what you can do.

Is there such a thing as the perfect CV?

Your CV is an incredibly hard-working document. It’s your personal advertisement and sales tool for presenting you at your very best to future employers so understanding the components for compiling an effective CV is incredibly important, particularly when you’ll be in competition with others for the job you want.

There are dozens of CV layouts but the CV that lands you the job is probably the one that is perfect for you.

Compiling a good CV takes time but the benefits you’ll reap will make the effort worthwhile. Here are the basic components of a CV to get you started.

Personal Details

At the top of your CV you should give details of how you can be contacted. Include your first name and surname, address, telephone numbers and email address. If you don’t have an email address that sounds professional, you should create a specific email address to use for your job search only.

Personal Statement

This is brief statement that gives employers a clear idea of what specific achievements, skills, sectors or areas of work you’ve been involved in and the successes you’ve had. If you’re starting out, list the skills you’ve learned from work experience, voluntary work or team working at school or college.

Employment

This will include your employers’ names, job title, dates (from and to) and a list of your achievements for each of the positions you held. List your current or most recent job first. Again if you’re just starting out any work experience, part time, evening or voluntary is acceptable to talk about – but it’s important to say what you achieved.

Education

This section is about your formal education and should begin with names of the educational institutions you’ve attended along with the dates and qualifications that you have obtained. If you have no employment history you may wish to put your education under your personal statement.

Training and vocational skills

If you have skills such as languages, computer skills or have attended training courses, the other skills section is good place to list these out.

Interests

This section is where you list your hobbies, interests and leisure activities. Are you part of a special interest group or team? Do you do voluntary work? List those things here. If you don’t have much work experience employers may ask you about your hobbies and interests to ascertain other skills you may have so be prepared to talk about your interests in some depth.

References

You don’t have to list referees on your CV. You should have them lined up and contacted them in advance to ensure that they are aware that they may be required to provide a reference for you at short notice.

Remember, your CV is an evolving document as your career progresses your skills and achievements will develop – so always keep your CV updated.

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