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Step 2: Creating your CV

What is expected from a CV?

A CV (or Curriculum Vitae) is a factual statement about you, your work history, skills, experience and potential.

Start by making a list of information under the following headings:

  • Educational Achievements
  • Employment History
  • Skills and Competencies
  • Career Goals

Target Audience

Think about who you are going to send your CV to. You may need to create several versions, depending on the nature of the role you are applying for.

For example, if you are applying for a trainee position, highlighting your ability to learn new skills and stay committed to your goals will be extremely important. Whereas, if you are putting your CV on a general job board for recruiters to find, a more general appraisal would be appropriate.

Tips and hints on best practice

The information you present will ideally be presented in black ink. It sounds obvious, but ensure the font size and layout of the text is consistent. Use Arial, Verdana or Tahoma and no smaller than 9pt and no bigger than 12pt.

Aim to keep your CV to two pages. This is not as easy as it sounds and to achieve this you will need to be neat, logical and concise.

First impressions count, so if your CV is not well laid out, you may lose the opportunity to progress further in the application process if information is lost because it’s not readily identified.

Be confident and positive. Ensure you highlight your relevant strengths and success stories.

What to include in your CV

Firstly, and possibly most importantly make sure your CV contains all your contact details prominently, so the recruiter doesn’t have to search for the information they need. This information should be clear, bold and include:

1. Name
2. Daytime contact telephone number
3. Email address

You don’t need to include your full address or your date of birth, marital status or ethnic origin.

4. Personal Profile & Career Goals

In general, the next part is your personal profile and should include a short snapshot of who you are and why you are seeking employment. Make sure you use positive language like ‘proficient’, ‘competent’ ‘conscientious’ and ‘reliable’. Tailor the information into a statement that leaves the recruiter in no doubt that you meet the requirements for the role that you are applying for.

The language you use to describe yourself in your personal profile should reflect the key competencies required to succeed in the role. For example:

Methodical approach to planning and organising – good time management.
Reliable and dependable – high personal standards.
Determined and decisive – uses initiative in problem solving.
Good strategic appreciation and planning – able to visualise, plan and make things happen.
Excellent interpersonal skills – good communicator, written and verbal.
Pro-active and entrepreneurial – drive and keen commercial awareness.
Strives for excellence – disciplined in optimising performance.
Good interpersonal skills – works well as part of a team, motivates and encourages others.
Seeks new responsibilities and shares recognition for team goals – team player.
Emotionally mature and confident – calm and focused, tolerant and positive natured.
Creative problem solver – decisive and inventive.
High level of integrity, diligent and conscientious – reliable and dependable.
Results driven – highly motivated to achieve common goals.
Identifies and develops new opportunities – innovative.
Self-motivated – leads by example, enthusiastic and driven to achieve.
Hard working – reliable and dependable.
Critical thinker – strong analytical skills, probing and resourceful.
Financially astute – commercially aware.
Energetic, enthusiastic – team player who inspires others.
Flexible and adaptable – takes responsibility for team goals.

Give some thought as to which of these traits you could adopt to emphasise your strengths and capabilities that match the requirements of the role you are applying for. Keep your own personal statement concise, so limit yourself to no more than seven bullet points.

5. Employment History

If you have been employed previously the following section should include your employment history, starting with your most recent role and working back historically. Be precise in the information you provide, i.e.

  • Company name
  • Position held
  • Dates employed (month and year are sufficient)

Recruiters will want to know what you have done most recently first and then your background. In respect of the most recent employment detail key responsibilities and personal achievements, evidenced by examples, but keep it brief and relevant to the role you are currently applying for.

Think about which skills, from your previous employment, are transferable and for each subsequent role give a brief summary of what you achieved or learnt whilst you held that position.

Try not to leave gaps in employment history. If you took a career break (e.g. for child care), then say so. A recruiter will respect you openness.

6. Education and Other Skills

If you have not previously worked, then detail your educational achievements, qualifications, training and other relevant skills in more detail.

This section should include:

  • Name of establishment
  • Examination level
  • Grade/mark or pass

List them historically with the most recent/or highest level first. Do not include full addresses of establishments and examination boards, it’s unnecessary and takes up valuable space. However, be prepared to provide certificates before you commence employment so again, do not exaggerate.

Whilst you may not have an employment history, during your time in education you may have demonstrated many qualities which an employer would appreciate. Consider how your involvement in extracurricular activities has demonstrated achievements and qualities such as:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Initiative
  • Problem solving
  • Self motivation
  • Discipline
  • Reliability
  • Persistent determination
  • Compassion and humanity

Note: Part time jobs and voluntary work do count as they demonstrate reliability and maturity.

7. Interest & Other Information

Finally, a brief summary of your interests, and any other relevant information. This section is an opportunity to highlight responsibilities, teamwork and leadership skills you have acquired in activities outside of the workplace. For example, if you were the captain of a football team, your teamwork and ability to mentor others may be a useful trait.

Do not include references at this stage. If you are successful, taking up references is usually one of the last aspects you will be required to address.


Once you have created your CV, leave it for a day or two and then re-read it. What does it say about you, is it an accurate reflection of your talents? Read the CV as if you were the potential recruiter and ask yourself,

Does this person sound interesting and dynamic?
Does it capture attention enough to entice the recruiter to want to know more?
Is it up-beat positive and assertive enough to make you stand out?
Is it convincing and professional, without being too boring?

Finally get at least one other person you trust to proof read it for errors.


Common mistakes when creating a CV

One size fits all. Ten years ago a candidate would create one CV and send it out for every job they wanted to apply for. Today, the market is far more competitive, and you need to ‘sell’ yourself to the recruiter in a way that meets their needs.

Not addressing the key elements of the job description. Keep reading the job description and make sure your CV clearly addresses the criteria.

Too much detail. Too much information, is as bad as too little. You need to make sure your CV is attractive and clear enough to enable the recruiter to readily understand the key information.

Putting information in the wrong order. Your CV should be a logical progression to create a genuine interest in you as an individual.

Not utilising the opportunity of a covering letter to highlight your key skills to match the job description. The covering letter is almost as important as your CV.

Consistency. It sounds obvious but ensure the font size and layout of the text is consistent.

Overview of the 8 steps

Step 1: Where to Begin

Focuses on where to begin when looking for a job. Areas covered within this module include where to look for jobs, agencies to use and how to schedule priorities to ensure you maximise your time and effort.

Learn More

Step 3: Preparing a covering letter

Designed to give you an overview of the purpose, construction and content of a cover letter. The cover letter is the sales pitch for your CV and a must if you are to grab the attention of a prospective employer.

Learn More

Step 4: Completing the application form

Designed to guide you through the importance of application forms. Everything from your wording, to how you fill these forms in matters. Make sure you take advantage of this insider information as you only get one chance.

Learn More

Step 5: The interview

Designed to guide you through the interview process. With tips and advice, this is invaluable and if used effectively, will help you to avoid interview pitfalls and ensure you are fully prepared for your next interview.

Learn More

Step 6: Interview questions

Leads on from step 5 and provides you with a selection of interview questions that include both person specific and structured questions. This module will help you with your answers and how to put your point across in a relevant and professional way.

Learn More

Step 7: Body language

Designed to give you an overview of body language, in the context of attending an interview and making an impact for the right reasons. Providing a valuable insight into what your body, tone and mannerrisms are saying about you!

Learn More

Step 8: All important feedback

Designed to give you an overview of the options and methods to elicit feedback. This module will help you detach the emotion from rejection and allow you to grow and learn from each experience.

Learn More