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A complete guide on CV preparation

CV's are called a variety of things (eg, curriculum vitae, resume). There is no universally accepted format. The most important attribute of a successful CV is that it clearly explains to the reader what it is that you can do for them. Your CV should be:

  • A well-presented, selling document
  • A source of interesting, relevant information
  • A script for talking about yourself

The purpose of your CV is not to get you the job. Its purpose is to get you an interview, and after your meeting to remind the person you met with about you. Remember: you are not writing a CV for yourself, you are writing it for the reader. So, as you write your CV, put yourself in the shoes of the intended reader.

This section takes you through the content and detail of effective CVs:

  • A standard two-page printed CV
  • A one-page summary CV
  • An online CV

The decision to recruit is like a buying decision on the part of an employer. This creates a very clear picture of what a CV must include:

1. It must meet the needs of the target organisation where possible. This means a single generalist CV is unlikely to be sufficient.
2. It must highlight your achievements and how they relate to the job you are applying for. It must give the reader a clear indication of why you should be considered for this role.

To decide what to include in your CV and where, follow these principles and guidelines:

1. Generally, the document should contain no more than 2 pages. Sometimes, a one page summary is all that is required.
2. Your CV should be honest and factual.
3. The first page should contain enough personal details for a recruitment consultant or potential employer to contact you easily.
4. Choose a presentation format that allows you to headline key skills, key achievements or key attributes.
5. Your employment history should commence with your current or most recent job and work backwards.
6. Achievements should be short, bullet-pointed statements and include your role, the action you took and a comment on the result of your action.
7. Where information clearly demonstrates your suitability for the vacancy you're applying for, and enhances your chances of being short-listed, include this information near the beginning of the CV.
8. Leave out information that is irrelevant or negative.
9. Include details of recent training or skills development events you have attended which could be relevant.
10. List all your professional memberships and relevant qualifications.

As we work through examples in this section, we will continually refer back to these principles and guidelines.

The most common contents of a CV include:

- Personal Details
- Skills and Career Summary
- Key Achievements
- Qualifications
- Career History

Don't forget: The ultimate test of YOUR CV is whether it meets the needs of the person making the buying decision, and whether YOU feel comfortable with its content and style.

When you submit a printed CV to a recruiter or a potential employer, it is likely to be the first thing they get to see or read of yours. Therefore, you need to present your CV well and make it user friendly. For example:

  • Use a good quality paper, typically 100gsm in weight and watermarked.  
  • Lay your CV out neatly
  • Don't make the margins too deep or too narrow
  • Resist writing lengthy paragraphs - be concise
  • Careful use of bold type can be effective
  • Typefaces such as Times New Roman or Arial are fairly standard
  • Check for spelling or typographical errors  

 Key Skills/Competencies/Attributes:
Summarise the things about you that are relevant to this role. You can present the information as a list of achievements, a summary of skills, or a list of key competencies (this choice should be made in consultation with your career consultant). Give as much evidence as you can to suggest that you are suited to the career that you are pursuing. A reminder: You will find a list of your skills in the summary pages.

The one-page summary CV may also include one or two of the following sections if you consider they enhance your application.