How to Write a CV: CV Preparation Guidance

Knowing how to write a CV is key to any job application – here is some preparation guidance for writing a CV.


Job Application Process Includes:
Job Application Process     CV preparation     Job application letter     Online job application     Job interview     Interview etiquette    


Writing a CV, curriculum vitae is a key part of the process of applying for a job.

Time invested in researching how to write a CV and in preparing it is well spent.

Your CV needs to be well written and presented - it needs to present your skills and experience in the best possible light, whilst remaining totally truthful.

With many agencies and prospective employers receiving thousands of CVs, it is necessary that your CV is well prepared, written and presented if you are to stand a chance of even being considered for an interview.

CV preparation: what should it contain

When looking at how to write a CV, there are several key items that it should contain.

  • Personal details:   As the description implies personal details including your name, your contact details including address, telephone number or numbers and email address should be included. Other details including nationality, date of birth and whether a driving license is held may also be included.

    When providing your email address make sure the one you use looks professional - some of the more humorous ones may not be appropriate and will count against you.
  • Skills:   It is current practice to include a section that highlights your key skills. This section is often scanned by prospective employers looking for keywords and therefore it is a very important element in the CV preparation.
  • Experience:   The work experience section of the CV backs up the skills section – any employer will want to see what you have done. This can be a little tricky for new graduates, but include any relevant experience including vacation jobs.

    The work experience and should be set out in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent experience first. This section of the CV should focus on achievements and successes and highlight abilities that were demonstrated. Again it needs to be truthful, but also put yourself in a positive light.
  • Education:   When preparing a CV it is normal to include a list of qualifications and brief educational details.
  • Other relevant information:   Sometimes people may want to include other supplementary information including hobbies, interests, etc. Sometimes this is thought to be a bit superfluous, but it can give the interviewer a fuller picture of the candidate. This section should be kept short, and if space on the CV is at a premium, then it may be decided to omit it.
  • References:   It is normal for prospective employers to take up before commencing any new employment. It has been known for this to be done before the interview, so be aware of this.

    Accordingly the names and contact details for referees are often included on a CV. Normally one is required from the previous employer. It is normally courteous to ask referees before including their names on the CV, although the previous employer one will normally be directed to the HR department of the company so requesting permission may not be applicable.

CV presentation guidelines

The presentation of the CV is of great importance and this cannot be over emphasised. With agencies and companies typically receiving thousands of CVs, ones that do not come up to the mark are easily rejected.

A well presented and complete CV will give the best chance of securing an interview.

One trend that has been apparent recently is to incorporate your photo into the CV. Whilst this may look good, it may not always be appropriate. It is worth taking advice from any employment agency about using this approach.

Another point to bear in mind is that slightly different versions of a CV may be required for different applications or situations. Accordingly it may be worthwhile to prepare different versions of your CV for different applications, emphasizing different skills, etc.

It is often worthwhile to be flexible. Small changes in the preparation of your CVcan sometimes make all the difference. It may even be possible to have two CVs ready prepared if there are two different styles of CVs that may be required to emphasise different aspects of your career.

CV preparation key pointers

There are several key points that should be adopted when preparing a CV.

CV preparation do’s

  • Use positive language
  • Concentrate on achievements
  • Be concise
  • Keep to two sides of paper
  • Check thoroughly for spelling and other mistakes
  • Review the CV and ask the opinion of another person

CV preparation don’ts

  • Don't say anything that is not true and you cannot back up
  • Don't leave any gaps in the career history - it will cause interviewers to question what is being hidden
  • Don't make the layout very fancy - keep it clean, simple and attractive

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