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How to write a CV

Preparing your own curriculum vitae can seem a daunting task; quite apart from what to put in and what to leave out, describing your own strengths and abilities is not easy. What we have tried to do with the following guidelines is to make the whole process much easier and ensure that you end up with a professional document which shows you how to pitch your skills and stand out from the crowd, but without going over the top. In the current economic and employment climate, employers are looking to consistently improve on productivity and match a prospective employee’s skills and experience with the job needs, both now and in the future.

Presentation and layout

  • Always ensure that the your CV is well structured and it is not longer than 1,5-2 pages.

  • The use of sub-headings (e.g. Personal profile, Career history, etc.) will help potential employers glean the information they require with ease.

  • There should be clear spaces between category headings for easy clarification and definition.

  • Your name, address, phone number(s) and email address should form the start of the document.

  • Commencing with your present or most recent employer, state your career history. Then list your professional qualifications. If you have been working for many years list your academic qualifications and a very brief mention as to your college or schooling.

  • If you are just commencing your working life, having previously been a student, provide more in-depth information regarding your academic achievements.


Begin with a bold profile about yourself and your abilities – give the reader a snapshot of the person you are and the skills you possess. Keep it short, objective and make sure you can back up the statements at your interview. Starting with your current or most recent employment provide details of your position as follows:

  • Job title

  • Time that you have held this position

  • The key tasks and responsibilities that comprise this role’s requirements

  • Notable achievements whilst in the role

  • Where possible quantify your achievements with precise facts and figures

  • Expand on the skills you are using in your current job which you believe will be valuable in the position(s) for which you are applying

It is not necessary to state the reason you are leaving your current position. This will be a topic for conversation when you are invited for interview or can be covered in your letter of application. For all previous employment, unless one appointment was more significant than your current or last position, keep details brief, i.e., the name of the company, job title, period of employment and the job. Be sure there are no gaps in your career history – unless for example you took a year out to travel, in which case make reference to this under Interests/Hobbies.

If you are a student just starting work, give any evidence you can to demonstrate your practical skills, e.g. school prefect, event organizer, member of student organisation, contributor to your college magazine, or voluntary work.

Consider what examples you can give to show that you match the selection criteria. If they want someone to work in a team, remember to say if you belong to a local organization or if you are part of a sports team.

Your primary objective is to convince the prospective employer that you have the requisite skills, experience and hunger to do the job. Your CV should be no more than two A4 pages and as every employer is different remember to customize your CV to every job you go after.

Remember: this is your opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ – you will never get a second chance to make a first impression! Good luck!

Essential know-how from Kelly