Your CV is a marketing tool you can use to pitch yourself to employers.
It gives the first impression of you – so make sure it’s a good one! Most importantly, it should ideally be a maximum of two pages in length and be tailored specifically for the job and the organisation in question.
If you are sending a CV in response to an advertised post, get a copy of the job specification and make sure your application reflects every aspect of it, e.g. knowledge, skills and attributes required. If you are sending out speculative applications, do lots of research on the organisation and the type of work you are looking for to make your CV as specific as possible to your potential employer.
Top tips for content
- The heading Curriculum Vitae is not essential. The modern approach replaces your name with a larger font and bold print, followed by your contact details. Include your address, mobile number and a professional email address. Finally, you include your LinkedIn profile or e-portfolio. Make sure to have an activated voicemail.
- Date of birth, marital status and nationality are not necessary under equality legislation (unless there are visa implications and you want to show that you can legally work in the relevant country).
- Your CV should include Education, Work Experience, Skills, Interests/Achievements and Referees sections. A personal profile/career objective section has been largely replaced by a cover letter or can be brief 4/5 bullet points. If you are changing your career, you may find it useful to include one.
- Education details should generally be given in reverse chronological order (most recent first) or most relevant first. Expand on your most relevant qualifications, e.g. relevant course modules, projects, laboratory work and/or skills developed. Elaborate on any thesis or research work and include a list of tasks involved in carrying out that research. Don’t include irrelevant information such as Junior Certificate or national school.
- Your employment section should also be in reverse chronological order unless your most recent experience is not your most relevant. In this case, you could group jobs together under the headings Relevant Experience and Other Experience. Focus on your responsibilities and achievements in the role. Include metrics, if possible and MATCH your responsibilities and achievements to the Job Description.
- Tailor your skills section depending on the skills required for the job and provide examples of where you have developed that skill. Don’t forget to include the level of skill, where necessary, i.e. fluent in, proficient in, good working knowledge of, etc.
- Group interests and achievements under headings and expand on them. Try also to include achievements or interests related to the industry you are applying to.
- Two referees: As a student or recent graduate, include one academic and one work-related. Give them their phone number and email and their title and full contact details. Always ask for their permission first, tell them about the positions you are applying for and give them a copy of your CV when it has been completed. Remember to keep them informed of your career aspirations and achievements to date.