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Career advice - Getting the best out of your CV!

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What’s the purpose of your CV?


Your CV should not be War and Peace. Most employers will spend no more than 2 minutes glancing through your CV, so it needs to clearly and concisely highlight your skills, knowledge and experience so that an employer can see at a glance what you can do for them. The main purpose of a CV is to get you through to the next stage of the selection process and it is one of your most valuable assets, so be prepared to spend as much time as you need getting it right!

What should be included in your CV?

Most CV’s include the following information in one form or another:

  • Contact information
  • Personal profile
  • Key skills and competencies
  • Career experience
  • Education, qualifications and training
  • References from previous employers or teachers

Which type of CV?

Although most CV’s contain at least the information above, there are many different ways of presenting that information. Your CV represents you as an individual and as such there is no single ‘perfect CV’, however, there are several different types of CV that are generally used, depending on your level of skills and experience:


Historical or chronological CV’s – This type of CV lists your employment history first, starting with your most recent position. It highlights your achievements in organisations and is a good style of CV to use if you are looking for a similar role in a similar industry to the one you are currently in.

Skills based or functional CV’s – Skills based CV’s emphasise the things you have achieved by grouping them into desirable attributes such as team working, problem solving or communication skills rather than against each job you have had. This style of CV focuses on your transferable skills and is ideal if you’ve got employment gaps on your CV, have had several different types of job or want to change career direction.

Combination CV’s – This form of CV takes the best from both of the styles above. It normally lists your key skills and competencies followed by a strong historical section demonstrating how you have applied this in your working roles.

Shirts on a shelf

Alternative CV’s – Alternative CV’s take many different forms and are used where traditional CV’s may not be appropriate. This may be in the form of a portfolio or examples of work for instance and are often used in the creative industries such as fashion or writing.

Top Tips for Maximising Your CV:

  • Don’t use more than two pages unless you are applying for a specialist or technical role
  • Put yourself in the employer’s shoes when reading through your CV – they will be looking to see whether you are capable of doing the job and whether you’d fit into the organisation
  • Don’t refer to yourself as ‘I’. Instead, use phrases such as ‘Increased sales by…’
  • Make it snappy and use bullet points where appropriate
  • Keep the layout uncluttered and use a standard font such as Arial or Times New Roman with a 10 – 12 point text size
  • Use good quality, white A4 paper
  • Tailor each CV for the individual job you are applying for

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