CV Writing Tips
Your CV may only get a 10-second glance during the initial screening stage – so make it count!
Here are some tips on how to write a CV that will take you through to the interview stage.
Where to start
Gather your information
; Gather all the documentation that you have about your work history and education. ; Organise your information by creating a Word document or by downloading an
Information Gathering Worksheet fromhttp://www.pro-
cv.co.uk/cv_pack_files/infogatheringworksheet.doc or the full Pro-CV Pack
; Identify the key requirements of your target job(s). Read and analyse advertisements,
job specifications, or other information about your target job(s). Jot down the jargon
and buzz words/phrases that are used. Note the job titles and corresponding key
criteria for each type of position.
; For each key criterion, write down the way(s) in which you qualify – through work,
study, or outside-of-work activities.
; Write a rough draft of your work history and education. Include dates, job titles,
company names, your day-to-day responsibilities, and your achievements. Elaborate on
the achievements that relate to the target job’s key criteria.
; Don’t think you have any achievements? Ask yourself if you were given enhanced
responsibilities, worked late or covered shifts (beyond the call of duty), got on well
with your colleagues, mentored a new employee, and/or solved escalated problems for
colleagues or supervisors. Are you always punctual or consistently accurate? These are
; Use the design and formatting tips below to edit and add to this draft. ; File types
; Create your a document and save it as .doc or .rtf. The file extension .docx is not
universal yet, so if you are using Word 2007, save your document as Word 97-2003.
When you have a final version of your CV, you should also create a copy of your
document in plain text (.txt file) for copying and pasting into emails and online forms.
An Adobe .pdf version is also handy for printing. If you do not have the software to
create .pdf documents, you can use an online service.
; Design & Layout
; Even if you are a word processing expert, be frugal with the use of lines, colours,
borders, shading, ornate bullets, and unusual fonts when designing a CV for electronic
submission. Do not put crucial information, such as your name and contact information,
in headers, footers, tables, and text boxes. This is because you cannot be sure that the
software used to view the CV will display the information within these features. Use an
uncluttered layout with clearly titled sections to ensure that your CV will be scanned
into databases properly.
; Use section headings in a larger font size than the body text so that the reader can find
the information they need quickly.
; Use bullet points to emphasise the action verbs and key words that match the job
; A 2-page CV is long enough for most occupations. At least 1/3 of the second page
should be filled.
; Longer CVs are appropriate for some occupations, such as senior executives, and are
usually required for consultants, medical doctors, and academics.
; Clear and concise content is more important than length, so your CV should be as long
as needed to present your relevant experience and qualifications for the position. ; Sections of a CV
; Personal Details
; At the top of the CV, place your name, postal address, telephone number (your mobile
or landline), and your email address. Your email address for job hunting should be
professional-sounding, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
; Profile / Summary of Qualifications
; Consider naming this section with a job title that reflects your experience and your
target job(s). For example, “Sales Manager – Food & Beverage Sector.”
; The profile statement is a short summary of your experience, qualifications, and
personality. It should contain some key criteria, such as number of years of experience
and at what level; breadth of experience; and related achievements. It should
showcase the value you offer by highlighting your strengths and abilities. ; Inject some of your personality here. Use this space to show how or why you are
helpful, flexible, accurate, patient, or other attributes that are relevant to the target
; This synopsis at the beginning of your CV is particularly important today because many
documents are reviewed on a Blackberry and the page may not be viewed as a whole.
It also allows you to move key words into the first 250 words, which can be important if
your CV is entered into certain databases or appears in a search engine. ; Key Skills / Key Competences / Career Highlights / Selected Achievements ; Augment your profile with a list displayed in a one-, two-, or three-column style. They
should address the target job’s key criteria. Use this section to bring forward skills
acquired, or achievements realised, at various times in your career.
; Experience / Employment History
; The work experience section discusses your day-to-day responsibilities, with emphasis
on skills and achievements that are transferable to your target job. Points should
include why you were hired, what challenges you faced, and most importantly, the
accomplishments you achieved while working for each employer.
; Your work history should be listed in reverse chronological order. That is, start with
your most recent job. Use months and years to indicate start and finish dates and
include the name of the company (with a short description, if required). Use a bold
and/or uppercase font for your job title if it is related to your target job. If you are
changing careers, do not emphasise the job title.
; Write an introductory paragraph (up to five lines) for each experience. Briefly, tell the
reader what you were hired to do and/or what you actually do or did. Include an
overview of the challenges you faced and your sphere of influence, such as the number
of staff you supervise.
; Follow with bullet points detailing how well you actually did the job. Start each bullet
with an action verb and then explain the situation or challenge. Describe your action(s)
and illustrate the results and/or benefits of those actions. Qualify or quantify these
accomplishments, whenever possible.
; Write more about your most recent and relevant work experience and less about your
past experiences. The past 10 to 15 years of experience is of most interest to potential
employers and earlier experience may be excluded or stated briefly. For IT positions in
fast-changing environments, it is only necessary to give detailed information about your
past five years of experience.
; If you are a recent graduate, or if your qualifications are more relevant than your work
experience, place your education section ahead of your work experience and include
your grades. Include the name of the institution(s) you attended, as well as start/finish
years, the course(s) that you took, and the qualification(s) that you attained. Add your
extra-curricular activities if they are relevant and/or if you have little or no work
; If you have at least a few years of relevant work experience, provide only a brief
summary of your degree(s), diploma(s), or certificate(s). Include the name of the
institution(s) you attended with start/finish years and the qualification(s) that you
attained. Include the course(s) that you took only if highly relevant. ; If you have some work experience and a university degree (tertiary education), there is
usually no need to include your secondary school education. There is never any need to
include primary school education, no matter how prestigious the school. ; Additional Information
; Interests and hobbies are rarely required on a CV. However, if your activities or
pursuits show a side of you that is relevant to the target job, such as leadership,
industry knowledge, or communication/interpersonal skills, then mention them briefly
if these points cannot be covered elsewhere in your CV.
; Write about your interests in terms of the skills you used or developed. Never mention
vague activities like reading, cinema-going, and socialising. Do not include activities in
which you no longer participate.
; If IT/computing skills are a job requirement, detail them in terms of the programs used
(and for what purpose, if required), your level of competency, and frequency of use. If
not a specific job requirement, mention potentially relevant programs in which you are
competent in order to demonstrate your computer literacy.
; Other information, such as your driving licence, affiliations/memberships in
professional organisations, volunteer work, and non-professional awards can be
mentioned if they are relevant to the target job.
; Indicate your knowledge of foreign languages if you would be comfortable using the
language at work, such as speaking on the phone or writing an email. If the language is
a job criterion, detail your level of competency in both the spoken and written forms. ; Nationality/citizenship (unless you need a work permit).
; Marital and family status; information about your spouse/partner and children. ; Health and age information. If physical fitness is relevant, you could allude to this in
the “Work Experience” or “Interests” section.
; Minor qualifications that are not relevant. This detracts from your focus on the target
; References, unless you are specifically asked to supply them.
; Salary history information, unless you are specifically asked to supply it. If you are,
include it in your cover letter where you can add an explanation. For instance, “My
salary requirements are negotiable because I am far more interested in challenge and
potential for career development. However, in my previous three positions, my salary
ranged from ?40k to ?50k.”
; What not to include
; It is not necessary to state that “References are available upon request” at the bottom
of your CV because you have no choice – you must present your references upon
; Although references are not usually submitted along with a CV, a separate reference
sheet is an important element of your job seeking portfolio. For each referee, include
their full name, job title and company name (if applicable), postal address, telephone
number, and email address.
; Enhance your reference sheet by adding a short paragraph below each entry that tells
the reader what the referee will be able to say about you. For example, you could use
a quote from your appraisal.
; Prepare your referees for the job of giving you a good reference. Give them a copy of
your CV and target job information. Let them know in writing how and why you are
qualified. For instance, remind them about how you demonstrated certain skills and
about what you achieved when you worked for or with them. Be sure that they are
willing to be a referee and that they are interested in helping you realise your career
; Download a worksheet from www.pro-
cv.co.uk/welcomeback_files/referencesworksheet.doc and a template from www.pro-
cv.co.uk/welcomeback_files/referencestemplate.doc. Further reading is
Resume Tips for International Students
Below are some tips about creating resumes and searching for jobs in the United States. A Note on Your Job Search
; Consider the location of the job and the type of field. Large international companies
will be more willing to work with international students as will companies on the east
and west coasts. Smaller, midwestern companies will sometimes not consider
international students although providing information on employment status might
appeal to these companies.
The Education Section of Your Resume
; List the home school certificate you earned or the degree you were awarded along
with the location of the school and the date the program was completed.
; Do not include Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Instead, list:
o how many years you have studied in English
o how many years you have studied English, or
o how many years you have spoken English
; Do not try to "translate" your educational experiences for employers. Simply list those
experiences and include your most recent experience; for example, acceptance at
NYIT . Being accepted by an American university such as NYIT will signal to employers
that you have qualifying educational experience.