Love your Career - How to write a winning CV

12 Feb, 2020

In their third Love Your Career article, the Career Development Centre provides some great advice for writing a winning CV.

Your CV is not just a biographical account of your life to date; it is a marketing tool with which to “sell yourself” to potential 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, then 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, then do lots of research on the organisation and the type of work that you are looking for to make your CV as specific as possible to your potential employer. 

Tips for content

  • The heading Curriculum Vitae is not essential. The modern approach is to replace it with your name using a larger font and bold print, followed by your contact details. Include your address, telephone number and area code and a professional email address. You may also wish to refer to your LinkedIn profile or web address if you are linking to a portfolio.
  • 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).
  • If you include a mobile number on the CV, make sure your message minder is activated and that your recording is professional.   
  • Your CV should include education, experience, skills, interests/achievements and referees sections.  A personal profile/career objective section has mainly been replaced by a cover letter.  If you are changing 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 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.
  • 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 expertise, 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 are the norm. As a student or recent graduate, include one academic and one work-related. Give their phone number and email along with 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.  If you are in employment, you may wish to include the phrase ‘please consult me before contacting referees’.

Check out our website for the following information and resources:

  • CV builder
  • CV checklist:
  • CV action verbs:
  • CV and cover letter- useful phrases:
  • Creative CV Guide for students working in the creative industries:
  • CV Help Sheet