How to write a CV

If you’re hoping to get a job, you’ll need a good CV. Although it may feel tedious, it is a necessary evil. A good CV will get you noticed; a great CV will help you get in the door for an interview. It can mean the difference between complete radio silence and a phone call or email inviting you in for an interview. Sounds like a lot of pressure for a small document, right? 


Not to worry. This helpful guide will help you take your CV from good to great. So, without further ado, let’s begin! 

The Basics

CV stands for “curriculum vitae”, which is Latin for “course of life”. It can also be referred to as a resume. It’s a document that summarises your employment and education history, qualifications, skills and any other relevant information. It will act as a mini marketing campaign for you in tandem with your cover letter and is your way to impress a potential employer before they meet you. 

Every CV must contain the following: 

·       Your full name, professional title (if applicable) and contact information.

·       A personal profile.

·       Your previous experience, employment history and education.

·       Any relevant professional qualifications (be sure to have proof of these handy as employers will likely ask to see this). 

·       Key skills.

This will make up the bare bones of your CV. If your CV doesn’t feature these key points, it will simply be ignored by potential employers. This document is not a long form essay, but a concise summary of you as a candidate. The average recruiter looks at a CV for 9 seconds. 


Take a moment to really think about that. 


This quick turnaround is because no matter the job, there will be a large number of applicants and the hiring manager simply won’t have time to read every single CV. So, you want to make sure you’re selling yourself as clearly and efficiently as possible. Short and sweet are words to live by when it comes to your CV. 


Ideally, your CV shouldn’t be more than two sides of an A4 sheet of paper, and it should at least fill a single page. 

CV Layout and Format


So now that you know the basics, how should you lay it out? You can’t submit a word jumble and expect to be called in for an interview. The layout should clearly display relevant info in a clear manner that makes it easy for your potential employer to skim. Utilize headings, bullet points and margins to clearly organise the page. Large chunks of text are off putting so avoid this as much as possible. 

The most widely known and accepted format is the Reverse Chronological CV format. This begins with your current or most recent employment and covers back as far as is necessary. This shows a clear history of your work experience and responsibilities. 


An example of this format (very basic) would look something like this: 


Current Employment:

Bartender – Cool Bar. May 2019 – Present
  • Poor Drinks.
  • Greet Customers.
Bar Staff – Catering Company for Events and Such. June 2018 – May 2019
  • Serve beverages. 
  • Clear tables.


It goes without saying that you will need to include more detail than this. Good fonts to use are Arial, Calibri and Helvetica


Catching your Readers Eye

First things first, you need a strong CV header. This is made up of your name, current job title if applicable and your contact details. Photos, marital status and date of birth are not necessary. It is illegal for a business to discriminate against you based on age, however they ask your age in an interview if you are serving alcohol (common in the hospitality industry). 


Make sure your contact information is accurate and use an appropriate email. Don’t use that fun one you’ve been hanging onto since you were young. A good header will resemble this:


Your Name

Current Job Title


Be sure these are clickable links that go to the right place. This information can be centred or to the left of the page. This is always at the top, in clear, large text. 
Under this will be a personal statement. This should be tailored to your industry of choice at a minimum and the specific role where possible. Be sure to include keywords (these can be found in the job advert or description), be specific about who you are (if you’re a barista, say you’re a barista), your motivations, experience and goals in the company. Try to keep this within 3 to 4 sentences.

Filling the Space

Under clear headings, list your previous employment history. Under each role, include the length of time you spent in this role, your key tasks and responsibilities, any achievements, and promotions. For hospitality roles, you want to show you have proven experience in customer service, handling cash and taking payments, clearing tables and other tasks in a fast-paced environment. Be sure to include key words and sentences from the job description (do not copy and paste) so the potential employer can see you can handle the necessary responsibilities.
In a separate section, list any formal qualifications you may have. Such as certificates, diplomas, or accreditations you may have received. Be sure to only list relevant items. This will set you apart from other applicants, especially if these are required for the position.
Next, you’ll need a short section listing your key skills. Tailor this to match the desired skills that will be outlined in the job posting. The more points that line up, the more appealing your CV will be.
Using this guide, you’ll be able to upgrade your CV and better your chances of landing that next job! Remember, your CV will never quite be finished, so keep tweaking and updating as you apply for various roles.
Good luck!

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