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How To Make a CV

Updated on December 31, 2014

Introduction to Resume Writing

More and more employers are nurturing resume writing. It does not matter if you are a professional businessman or a manual labourer; your job application advert will probably say "Apply With CV" and your application form will end up straight in the bin. This is ideal for the many undergraduates that are looking for jobs as office managers or bankers, but for many this is yet another barrier to entry in the workplace and for many a prospect of applying for a job with no idea what the employer wants to know.

This hub will take you through a very brief overview of what a CV is, does and why it is used; before we work out how you should be writing your CV. There are some very good lenses on HubPages that will debate the use of one font against another but here we will start at the very beginning, for CV writers who have never needed to spell Curriculum Vitae before, let alone work out where the accents go on resume.

What is a Curriculum Vitae

The Course of My Life

Lets put it bluntly; a Curriculum Vitae can actually be anything you want it to be as long as it charts your life over the last decade (-ish) and gives an honest picture of what you would probably have put on an application form. The CV itself actually goes much further than that though and you are now marketing yourself to the employer; it has to show you in the best light but not leave your prospective employer asking more questions than reading answers.

Personally I think that a Curriculum Vitae has a good role in a time or place. I don't think that they should be expected for manual roles require flair or marketing; a recent example that I found was a supermarket checkout operator for one of the big chains. On enquiring the job was a fixed term contract until just after the Christmas and New Year Rush; but like their cleaners and warehouse staff; all vacancies are by CV only. As much as I think that a checkout operator is an important customer facing role, it is one that is more likely to be decided on a face-to-face basis rather than the quality of your CV template.

The Curriculum Vitae is increasingly popular though, so we must embrace that and make the curriculum of our vitae sound more interesting than what we put on our application form, which is good because we are starting with a blank piece of paper. Despite what the resume template websites tell you there is no right or wrong answer when writing your CV as long as it covers the basic information that an employer will need to know such as employment or educational history and personal information such as name and address.

Essential Information

Before we get to writing your resume we should consider what sections there are and what you might want to think about while draft some ideas of what you want to say. Importantly, if you are going to be writing ideas at this stage you must remember that what you write must be relevant to the job, so there is no point in writing half a page about the life cycle of a cat if you are not looking at an animal related position.

  1. Personal Statement

    The last thing you actually write, but the first thing you put on your CV. A personal statement is just that; a statement about where you are, where you are going and where you see yourself in the future. Ideally around 100 words at the maximum, the idea of your personal statement is to encourage your prospective employer to keep reading.
  2. Education

    For a graduate fresh out of University this is often the most important factor of any application for employment with the exception of the work experience gap year. Details about the two highest levels of education attained should be expected as well as a brief outline of any others down to the current GCSE level (or O Level equivalent).

    It is also important to list any employment based qualifications. In a previous role for a charitable organisation I was interviewing volunteers for a hospital environment and considering that the individuals would be moving around the hospital in wards or other public areas, it was surprising how many of them failed to put a valid first-aid certification on their application.

  3. Work Experience

    For the mid-life career change; work experience on a resume usually plays a more important role in the marketing you as the best person for the job. You can show experience and relevance to the job you applied for; the educational history remaining important but taking a back-seat unless it is specifically important to the job.

    If you have any notable gaps in your work history then it is always a good idea to explain them. An employer will always look at those gaps and is likely to ask the question in interviews. So if you have taken time off to start a family, because you were taking a 12 month cruise around the world or even because you were unemployed and could not get a job; say so.

  4. Other Skills and Experience

    This section can be optional when you are resume writing because you might not have relevant skills or experiences from outside your employment to include. This could involve charity work, management of sports teams or other groups of individuals. The important thing with this section though is that if you have very little to include, then the space would be better suited to other parts of your CV.
  5. Interests

    Something which an employer does not always ask but can always use to learn a lot about you, is the outside interests whether it be associated with the job or not. Using a real example such as myself, I have spent 5 years working in the casino industry and 10 years working on the railway. That does not mention though that I also spent a number of years as the Chairman of a UK registered media charity; something completely different and would not be included anywhere else on a CV or resume.

    A word of warning though: interests are a delicate subject, especially if your interests are getting very drunk every Friday night. Likewise though a person with no interests could also raise suspicion as to what is being hidden. If you don't have the chance to enjoy a hobby because you have a young family then say so.

A Guide To Your CV Template - Resume Format

I said before that there is no right answer or wrong answer to how you format and write your Curriculum Vitae. That's not strictly true as there is some guidance through tried and tested methods, with just a little bit of psychology thrown in for good measure. If we think about the job market at the moment; then employers are going to receive many applications for every vacancy. We can not expect a recruiter to be going through hundreds of applications word for word as this would take up valuable time interviewing the best candidates and getting the role filled. Recruiters are going to be instinctive and if they like the first half a page on your CV they are going to keep reading it.

So when resume writing you need to think about what the person reading your CV is going to be looking for. They need to have their attention drawn to something they like to read or see, something to justify carrying on their reading of your CV, something other than a hideous font that is going to give them a migraine trying to read it.

  • DO make your CV aesthetically pleasing to look at. Nice clean cut blocks of text in a clear rounded font such as Arial read so much easier than disjointed randomly placed text boxes filled with Comic Sans.
  • DO be honest. If you get caught out telling a lie on your CV it will catch up with you. If you are not caught out before the interview, you could have difficult questions to answer at the interview. If you are not caught out at the interview it could be once you start work - and your employer will be able to sack you from the job you just worked so hard to get.... and I bet they won't give you a glowing reference!
  • DO include your personal details right at the very top of your CV. Doing this makes it easier for your prospective employer to find them and contact you for an interview or to offer you a job. Personally I prefer to place my personal details in a style that resembles a letter with my name in a larger font size to make it stand out and my details underneath slightly smaller in size to what I am using for the body.
  • DON'T include too much personal information. Apart from a lack of space; the person reading your CV or resume has to ensure that they are not discriminating on grounds such as race, disability or sex when they are employing. Unless your application will be more attractive with those details included (such as someone being single being more feasible for unsociable hours positions) then don't include anything that is not needed.

    There is an exception or two to this rule. Government departments are exempt in terms of discriminating on nationality for many jobs and other jobs may be exempt on a case-by-case basis such as when single-sex vulnerable environments or single-sex schools are involved.

  • DON'T try to be funny. A prospective employer is unlikely to appreciate having to e-mail you at an address containing profanity, sexual slur or anything embarrassing and this has been the most common thing to have stopped me interviewing an individual for volunteers positions. This also includes when you are talking about skills or notable times in your career; you can be descriptive about how you knew a regular customer so well that you used humour to diffuse a difficult situation; trying to be witty about it afterwards with a remark is less likely to be accepted and might be seen in the wrong light on the paper of your resume.

How To Make A CV Layout

When you are laying out your resume there are a few tricks that you can use to help your application stand out. It has nothing to do with the content, so make sure you are happy with that before starting to make your CV work on paper. We are going to use simple tricks and tips using your Microsoft Word program, although these features are available on almost all word processor programs.

First we are going to start with you, the current you and now. this means starting with your name and personal information at the very top. How you present it is something that I consider as personal taste, but make it readable and I always suggest making it read like it was a formal letter; so name at the top in approximately 14 point font and then your address and contact details under this in a 10 point font. If you are going to include a photograph then you might want to put this in one of the tops so that it can be easily seen if you are invited to interview.

The first piece of creative text comes next and this is your Personal Statement whether you make this slightly larger font, bold or both is up to you, but it should not read for more than 4 or 5 lines because it is meant to be short, sweet and impacted.

If you have written any creative pieces about your strong points then these can go next as long as they are relevant to the role. This might include demonstrating how you can manage a large team for a management position, how you have influenced stakeholders and customers or another example of how you would fit in with the company. This is not essential in a CV, but if you can write this then it shows dexterity to perspective employers.

Next comes your essential information. If you are fresh from education and have minimal work experience that is relevant to the role then it should be considered better to include your educational history before employment. This is because whoever is looking to hire you is going to want to see the most relevant information first in order to keep their interest while they are looking though hundreds of resumes. If you have extensive relevant experience through weekend or holiday jobs; or indeed if you are a more mature candidate with an extensive work history then this should lead ahead of your educational information.

I consider it important to be able to show the difference. Having it the wrong way around will suggest to someone reviewing your CV that you have not thought to offer the most important first, or worse still that you are blindly following a template off the Internet!

Finally I put some information about hobbies, interests and other experience. This is going to be a short piece of text so the amount of detail is limited; but writing something about hobbies and experiences often shows diversity and personality which employers increasingly desire in any role. As I mentioned above, taking care to write neutral or positive is important here.

References

Do You? Don't You?

Whether or not you include your referee details at the end of your CV is one of those discussions that you hear all the time. Before we look at whether you include them or not there are two very definite rule on choosing your referees for your next job application:

* You must know that your referee is happy to give you a reference

* You must know that your referee can give you a good reference

Some recruiters though think that including the details of your referees on a CV is using good space for something a recruiter won't even look at. If your CV has an employment background then a good recruiter is going to contact the most recent employer regardless of whether they are included as a reference; especially so, if they have not been included as a reference. If you are coming straight from education into a job application then it is usually preferred to include your education tutor or point of contact as a reference because an employer will not necessarily know who to ask within a large educational establishment.

Something to avoid wherever possible though is a friend or relative as a personal reference. it is difficult to be able to balance your desires with their wishes and unless you write the reference for them (and you don't want to do that) then you should be leaving well alone. There are obviously exceptions to this, such as when your friend or relative is of a high regard standing; but in the vast majority of instances it is not appropriate to do this.

So In Conclusion

You Have: A Draft Resume

You should have some very distinct sections already forming in your CV; The "Summary of You", The "History of You" and the "Background to You"; essentially you have written your Curriculum Vitae - The Course of Your Life; hopefully in a total of two pages.

Do you do things differently? Do you have any top tips for resume writers out there? Is your top CV getting you results?

How Do You Do YOUR CV?

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    • cardiffcroupier profile image
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      cardiffcroupier 4 years ago

      @Hannah Writes: Thanks for the comment. It was 2001 I drafted my first serious one and then did not really re-write it until last year when my company starting using CV's for internal applications!

    • profile image

      Hannah Writes 4 years ago

      This is a lot of great information. I have not written a complete resume since 1987 or 1988!