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How to Write a CV

Everything you need to know about writing your CV or Resume.

how to write a cv

As you ready to create a brilliant resume that gets you noticed in a matter of minutes?! It's no good just hoping that someone notices how wonderful you are. You don't need to exaggerate or lie, but you must literally spell it out for each job to which you apply. Read on to find out how:

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Effective resume writing

When you are applying for a job, you are basically selling your skills and experience to win an interview. Your goal is to write a CV or resume that highlights your accomplishments and skills effectively and shows that you are the candidate that needs further consideration.

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Step 1 -

Recall your work history

Spend no longer than half an hour writing bullet points highlighting your working or university history.

Try to note everything down and you can refine and edit it later. Forget the formatting and focus on the content. Have the job you want to do in mind but also jot down experiences that may not seem relevant at this stage.

Have a think about the sort of Projects, Experience, Responsibilities and Tasks which will be required for your future jobs? Try not to spend much of your time on anything more than 5 years ago, unless it is particularly relevant to the jobs you want to do and you have not done anything similar since. If you only have two years of relevant experience since graduation, spend just 25 minutes on this stage.

Set the clock and write fast. Here are some questions to get you started.

* What position did you hold?
* What day-to-day tasks did you do?
* What were you responsible for?
* What projects or results did you achieve?
* What experience or skills did you gain?

Step 2 -

Make sense of it all

You need to put it all in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first and oldest last, including dates with month and year.

Most CVs or resumes will use bullet points as much as possible to help you to present a clear and concise picture of your work experience.

Step 3 -

Expand the good, clear the fluff

Now you need to have clear in your mind the job you want to win. Make a note of the sorts of things you see yourself doing in your future career. Knowing what you want makes it much easier to write a resume that shows you are the right person for that job.

So let's begin your CV...

* The most relevant information in bullet points should go at the top. Grab the reader's attention early, then expand on the subject further down the page. If your readers aren't hooked by the headline or the first bullet point they may not even read on.
* Remove the irrelevant stuff. Don't waste your and your reader's time on your experience which is not relevant to the job you applying for. If you do include it, ensure it relates in some way to a skill or attribute which relates to your ideal job.
* Delete experience that you do not want to do again. If you can't remove it (because that is your only experience) skim over it as much as possible.
* Next focus on the order of your bullet points.
* It is quite common for many people to find that the bullet points do not relate to what you want to do at this stage. If this has happened - now is the best time to go back to Step 1. Do not waste your time going any further.

Step 4 -

Resume language

Make sure you make it easy for the reader to see what’s important for the job they are trying to fill.

* Get rid of the fluff that does not get to the point. Be ruthless - if your point still makes sense without the extra word or phrase - delete it!
* Try to use positive action words:
* achieved, activated, appointed, chaired, completed, conceived, delivered, defined, doubled, drove, engineered, empowered, enlisted, established, exceeded, expanded, expedited, facilitated, financed, forged, fostered, founded, handled, headed, implemented, initiated, installed, instituted, integrated, introduced, invested, launched, led, magnified, maintained, managed, marketed, merged, maximized, modified, monitored, motivated, obtained, organized, oversaw, performed, planned, produced, realized, renewed, restructured, restored, revived, secured, solved, steered, started, strengthened, targeted, trained, won.

Step 5 -

We're getting there

We're getting there. The next step will get your winning resume in shape. In general, a resume follows a pattern which you can fill in one at a time. The most important parts are your Profile and Experience which tell your reader who you are and what skills you have. Basically, in Steps 1 to 4, you have produced the Profile and your Experience.

If you are changing your career or want to use your experience in a different way, you will need your profile to really highlight your existing skills and experience letting your actual work experience take a step back in the resume to ensure your reader knows you have what is required to do the job, even if you haven't had experience within that role.


* Personal and Contact Details (you do not need a heading for this section). It is usual not to include your age, race, or ethnicity to avoid discrimination.
* Profile, also called Objectives or Relevant Accomplishments
* Education, also called Qualifications, Summary of Qualifications, Education and Memberships (Only put this before Experience if you are seeking a professional role like Engineering, Social Work or Academia)
* Experience, also called Professional Experience, Relevant Professional Experience, Certificates
* References

Particulars: Full name followed by an address, email, work visa (if required), or passport details (if required).

Profile: the profile or “Relevant Accomplishments” is an opportunity for you to sell yourself. This is what you put together in Stages 1-4 which is essentially drawing on your experience in a concise way.

Writing your profile should obey the same basic rules as your Experience:

Remember to keep it: Specific - Targeted - Relevant – Short

Don't write long paragraphs
, however, you may find that one or two sentences can neatly wrap everything together. Try to make sure your sentence includes What, How Long, or How Much. Eg. Over Five years as a Chartered Accountant with recent operational management experience in a successful growing medium size practice.

Education: For most positions, you will need to highlight your highest level of education. Memberships to professional bodies and certificates achieved during work may also appear in this section but only if they are relevant to the position you are applying for.

Experience: You have already worked hard on this Part, but you are not quite done yet. Now is your chance to start to look at the whole resume and view it from your readers’ perspective.

ASK YOURSELF: Does this Resume clearly and quickly enable a bleary-eyed, worn-out, speed-reading reader to CLEARLY SEE me as the person who is the answer to their workload, their recruitment problems?

References: Include the names and contact details of three references – at least two should be previous managers or supervisors.

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