Creating the Perfect CV
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International Language Job Centre Home guide to curriculum vitae preparation * write a CV * how to write a resumé *

Creating the Perfect CV

A CV is your advertisement to prospective employers. It must make them want to take a closer look and invite you to interview. Follow the steps below and start creating your own.


Employers do not have the time to spare working out what your CV is trying to tell them. You must communicate clearly and concisely the information that you wish to convey about yourself that will be of relevance to them. As a potential employee you are far more attractive if you can convince the employer that you have the qualities they require. Think about what particular employers want, and how you fit the bill.
Problem solving is very important in all career areas. Define your problem solving skills relating them, as far as possible, to your job target. Convince the employer that you will be an asset to their company. With this in mind, prepare lists of your skills and achievements. They will normally cover the following areas:
    • Education and qualifications- concentrating on GCSE and beyond.
    • Work experience- think about the skills you needed for, and gained from, these posts. Transmit a sense of achievement, say what you accomplished in your work. Show evidence of any leadership skills you used. Skills used / gained may be professional, technical and personal.
    • Extra-curricular activities- positions of responsibility, membership of a sports team. Use your interests to say something of interest about yourself. It should be information with a purpose.
    • General skills- for example a driving licence, foreign language skills, and increasingly computer skills.

Now you've worked out what you've got to offer, it's time to think about how to present it. This is crucial to the impact and success of your CV. Bear in mind the following:
    • Leave out any irrelevant material.
    • Avoid wordy CVs- make your points concisely. You should use the minimum amount of words to make the maximum impact.
    • Avoid "flowery phrases"- make sure the words you use imply action and decisiveness.
    • Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
    • Make sure the CV is fairly short- many people recommend a one side CV. Bear in mind an employer can quickly lose interest.
You must also select a format for your CV. Most students arrange their CV chronologically, but there are other options. Skill profile CVs can help emphasise particular skills that you possess. Within categories such as communication, leadership or initiative you show how your experience demonstrates these skills. This can be a useful method for those with more patchy work experience. Try different formats and see which "sells" you the best.


Do not expect to produce a wonderful CV at your first attempt. You will need to make a few drafts. Each should be an improvement on the last. Be critical- aim to end up with a CV that is easy to read, looks attractive and communicates distinct benefits to a prospective employer. There are a few simple steps to follow:
    • Keep rewriting until you are satisfied.
    • Check your spelling and grammar.
    • Check again for unnecessary material- for example putting "references on request" can save you space.
    • Show your CV to someone whose advice you trust and listen to what they have to say- welcome constructive criticism.
    • Print your CV using a laser printer on good quality paper.


Now you've put together a strong CV, you need an equally strong covering letter to convince the employer to look closely at your carefully crafted CV.
    • The covering letter must be tailored to each job opportunity and individual company. It personalises your approach to companies.
    • Address the letter to the particular person with whom you wish to have an interview. ( Relate the letter to the specific needs of the company, and refer to particular skills in your CV that are of relevance. This will probably mean doing a little research into the employer, and looking back at the job vacancy advertisement.
    • As with your CV a letter should be brief, relevant, easy to read, with the spelling and grammar carefully checked.

Follow this link to one effective example CV
Follow this link for another good example

Follow this link for a prime example of how NOT to write your CV

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