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Writing an effective CV

Writing an effective CV

When writing an effective CV it is important to remember this is a maximum 2 page document the purpose of which is to make you, the candidate, stand out from everyone else. What you say and how you present yourself is very important. You only get one shot to make an impression so make it count. Don’t lie and don’t waffle. Everything you write, ask yourself “Does that add to the picture of the person I’m describing”. The reader/prospective employer is only interested in facts delivered concisely, confidently, articulately and truthfully. Feel free to use this template or you can find many others online. Search CV template.

Your name

[Your address]
[Your email address]
[Your phone or mobile number]

Personal profile

This is a brief statement to tell the reader exactly what type of talent you are. In this section you must sell yourself. In one sentence describe what you do, i.e. Entry Level Graduate Writer with exceptional technical and layout capabilities. Use strong adjectives that describe you like, “outgoing, hardworking, energetic and positive”. Tell the reader in a couple of sentences what they can expect from you, “natural leadership ability” “a can do attitude” “great problem solver” “extensive technical know how”. Say what you are passionate about, the area/sector you are working to get into and what you are inspired by/want to do/achieve in the future.

Key achievements

Specify things in your career that single you out as unique, “Developed, designed and launched the only interbank system currently used globally”.

It is always a good idea to build a portfolio of work in the area you are interested to go into. If you want to work in TV, make a film and post online or to become a journalist, write for student or school newspaper. Mention Prizes, awards and other recognitions.

Professional experience

Job Title – Company name and location ▪ The dates you worked there i.e. 2011 – Present

List all specific achievements and skills you have for this role. Have you made money for the company, headed up a successful project or been recognised with an award.

Talk about abilities and skills that are sought by other companies.

Keep it concise, short and direct.

Only include things that an employer is interested in. Things that paint a picture of who you are, what you can do and also what you’d like to do, sectors/industries you are passionate about.

If you have had a lot of jobs or very few try to find something positive to say in either case. Don’t go into long lengthy explanations as to why, always highlight why you are the best candidate in spite of your background or experience.

  • Music Journalist – ▪ 2011 – Present
    Spot lighting up and coming indie talent with original, humorous engaging copy.
  • Editor – ▪ 2011 – 2012
    Responsible for site content decisions, web promotion and marketing to drive new and returning traffic.
  • Events Coordinator – Christian Union ▪ 2010 – 2011
    Highly organisational role managing a team putting together small and large scale events from conception marketing, PR, invite/poster design, utilising multi web platforms for event exposure and being MC for the events addressing large audiences.
  • Secretary – Ultimate Frisbee Team ▪ 2011 – Present
    Administration and organisation of budgets, kit, team schedule, transportation and mediating between committee and players.
  • Researcher – Simply Free Solar ▪ 2011
    Locating roofs eligible for solar panels, obtaining the contact information for those properties and compiling a database.

Other work experience

If you have had a number of jobs not in your chosen career path (while studying or just to get a foot on the ladder) it is not necessary to write a job description for every one. All the jobs below do not need a description as the job title makes clear what is involved and the skills needed to do the job effectively.

  • Catering Assistant- The Garden Chef Caterers ▪ 2011 – Present
  • Catering Assistant- 3 of a Kind Caterers ▪ 2009 – Present
  • Kitchen Porter- The Crown Inn and The Coach and Horses ▪ 2008 – 2010
  • Seasonal Labour- Tulleys Farm ▪ 2007 – 2008
  • Groundskeeper- Horsted Keynes Football Club ▪ 2005 – 2008
  • Paper Delivery- Horsted Keynes Village Stores ▪ 2003 – 2005

Additional achievements

Here you include details of any professional qualifications or training plus any other positions of responsibility that show your character, commitment or community involvement. You can also include hobbies and interests in this section if you wish.

  • Young Enterprise Scheme- 2007
  • Local Scout Group leader- 2006/7
  • Full/clean driving license

Sofrware/Hardware technical skills

These days computer skills are highly sort after. Most companies expect you to be familiar with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Outlook, Powerpoint) however make sure you list all your other technical capabilities even if you don’t think they are important like say for example you edit all your home movies in Windows Live Movie Maker put it down.


List your education and qualifications starting with your most recent first. If you have a degree it is not necessary to list all your GCSE and A level subjects but do specify any A or A* grades. If you are a school leaver then do list all your subjects and grades individually, i.e.

  • BA English – University of Leicester ▪ 2012 4 A levels (AAAB)
  • Central Leicester College ▪ 2007-2009 10 GCSE (6 A*’s, 4 A’s)
  • Leicester Boys Grammar School ▪ 2002-2007

If you did not do well at school, don’t despair. In your cover letter include a brief line explaining why, something like you didn’t try your best because you were immature and didn’t realise how important your exams were at the time, will help to create a good impression. If your talents lie in other areas, building, creative, mechanical and working with your hands give examples of things you have achieved in these areas, like building a shed from scratch or rebuilding a car. We are not all good at passing exams but that doesn’t mean you are lesser. Showing focus, discipline and the ability to achieve is the key to getting a great job you really want.


“Excellent references provided on request” is a standard inclusion. If you do not have a work/career reference because something went wrong or you have not had a job yet, get a friend of the family, preferably a business person who has known you for a while, to give you a project and then write a letter detailing how you got on. Volunteer and ask your supervisor to write a reference for you.

You may also find these links helpful; Top Tips When Appying For An Advertised Job and Ultimate Simple Cover Letter

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