How To Write A CV
The CV is a marketing document. It needs to market your skills and your experience. Get used to the idea that you will have more than one CV. If you are applying for jobs in retail as well as jobs in a restaurant it would be unwise to use one CV for both applications: no, you will need one CV for restaurant jobs and one CV for retail. It’s obvious but most people miss this point when writing a CV.
Always keep a copy of your CV with you. If you don’t want to carry it around on paper then you need a memory stick No memory stick? Email a copy of your CV to yourself so it’s sitting in your inbox. No email? Never emailed a CV before? Go straight to our Tech section and read all this gumph later.
The CV is your calling card. It contains all of your contact details so that when you ask an employer, “Do you have any vacancies,” you can always leave a copy. If you don’t have a copy of your CV, secure the email of the manager or call back later.
Avoid saving your CVs as ‘CV-retail’ and the like. They will be something more like ‘CV-rt,’ ‘CV-rs’ so that potential employers don’t recognise that you’re playing the field a little: they’re looking for focused, career-minded individuals. Look the part from the outset and the work is half done.
CVs are dull. No one denies it. So when you are writing a CV you need to add a little bit of character; a little bit of style. If an employer has to read fifty CVs then yours is the one that needs to stand out. This leads neatly to another point: CV length. If an employer has to wade through fifty CVs and each CV is three pages long. That’s one hundred and fifty pages of dull CV reading. Stand out from the crowd and edit your CV down to at least two pages. There’s a skill to editing; show off a little.
A Straightforward Layout
The examples shown on our website will show you that there are many layouts and formats to choose from but, as a general rule, the CV can be broken down into six sections:
Your name and address, of course. You need an email address. If you don’t have one, get one now. Choose an email address that is sensible. Potential employers will shred your CV the second they notice that your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org (we’ve seen worse than this).
Personal Statement/Career Objective
This is where most stumble. You are selling yourself here so you need to be punchy and positive. Use the Power Words in The Toolkit to inspire you and talk about your skills. This is also a good opportunity to say where you would like to be.
Start with the most recent job and work your way backwards (so many forget that simple detail!) State your job title and your employer. List your key duties. Employers want responsible people so thoroughly record your responsibilities.
Not everyone has this but it’s not hard to get: two hours a week will go a long way on your CV. Learn more in The Positive Job Hunter.
Most recent first, going back. Make it relevant: your primary school is not important but highlight work-related studies and training.
Hmmm. Here at Job Fox we have seen hundreds of CVs and nothing is gloomier than, “I enjoy reading, listening to music and socializing with friends.” Firstly, everyone enjoys those things; secondly, employers don’t care. Unless it’s interesting and/or speaks volumes about your employability leave this section off the CV.
The CV examples we have included in The Toolkit are for your viewing pleasure: steal the ideas contained in them. The wording, the styling, the formatting; it’s all yours for the taking.
If you want a CV quickly, chose a CV from our CV Template Zone and open it on your computer. Make sure you save a copy of the file first. (If you do not have Microsoft Word on your computer read our Tech Section for tips on getting word processing software for free.)
All you need to then do is change the name and address, the employer details and the job title and the dates and wotnot and you have your very own CV without a great deal of fuss about formatting.
A Note about the First Person and the Third Person
When people talk about themselves they tend to do it in the first person. You know they are doing it because they say the pronoun ‘I’.
“I went to the park and I enjoyed myself a lot.”
Here is a passage from a CV using the first person:
I am an enthusiastic, reliable and friendly individual who works hard to achieve my potential. I am adaptable, committed and organized person with a lot of machine operating, factory work and packing experience. I possess strong communication skills with the ability to speak other languages. I learn quickly and always seek out learning opportunities. I am a strong team player who knows how to get the best out of people.
The third person talks about a person but does not use ‘I’ or ‘you’ or ‘me’.
Here is an example of a CV written in the third person:
Enthusiastic, reliable and friendly individual who works hard to achieve his potentials. Adaptable, committed and organised person with a lot of machine operating, factory work and packing experience. Good communication skills and ability to speak other languages. A quick learner who is always seeking learning opportunities. Works well in teams as well as individually.
Traditionally, CVs have been written in the third person format presumably because constantly referring to yourself as ‘I’ is too informal and friendly. However, more and more CVs are written in the first person and this is acceptable for the general jobs market.
The CV examples on this website are written in a mixture of both the first person and the third person. You need to choose a style that you feel suits your outlook. Have a look through our CV Template Zone and see if anything grabs you.
Remember to get somebody else to read through it because it will be hard for you to spot your own spelling mistakes.
Just remember to make your CV clear, simple and positive.