Tips for Writing Your CV
A CV is a document used to express your qualifications for a specific job and is meant to be a summary of your skills, experience and education. A well-written CV will convey competency to an employer so that you will get selected to interview. Employers will only spend approximately 15-30 seconds reviewing a CV to pre-screen for positions. Make sure you put your best foot forward by tailoring your CV to specific positions.
What goes on a CV? What if I don’t have a lot of experience?
Of course you have experience – you just may not realise it yet. Employers are interested in skills you’ve honed in a variety of settings, not only in the paid workplace. Community service/volunteerism, internships, academic projects/research, part-time jobs, hobbies, and interests may all have given you skills that employers seek. Think about what you did in every experience you have had; then think about potential outcomes for the work you performed.
What format should I use? What does a CV look like?
Your CV is the employer’s first impression of you! The overall look and feel of the document can make a difference with regards to getting an interview. The CV you used to apply to university may be quite different from the CV you will use to apply to internships and jobs. Rather than a laundry list of accomplishments, your professional CV should be a focused document with specific information divided into appropriate categories.
- Experiences should be listed in reverse chronological order within each section, i.e. most current is first.
- While you are still at university, you should list education first.
- If mailing, use bonded paper (white or off white). Use for both your CV and cover letter.
- Be consistent in format and content.
- Use a standard, easy to read font (Times New Roman, Garamond, Veranda, Helvetica, Arial, etc.) between 10-12 point in size.
- Use spacing, underlines, italics, bullets, bold, capitalisation, etc. for effects (don’t overdo it!)
- Make sure your CV includes “white space” and is visually balanced on a page.
There are many different CV formats and no layout is the “right” format. Please check with your ACN associate if you have any questions or would like feedback on your CV. Check out the examples given in this packet, as well as the CV samples on our webpage, and in the Career Library for ideas.
What should be on my CV?
- Contact information: Name, address (current and permanent), phone, email address (preferably the one you check most often).
- Education: Starting with your college (most recent first) including any study abroad experience. Relevant course work, tailored to each opportunity to which you are applying, can help the employer identify your interests. Inclusion of High School is optional.
- Relevant Experience: Include any work, volunteer, or project experience that is relevant to the job for which you’re applying. It does not matter whether the experience you want to include is a paid position! Note: this category could also be named according to its contents, i.e. Research Experience, Writing Experience, etc.
- Other experience: For valuable experience that is not particularly relevant to your current job search. Can be titled “Additional Experience” as a catch-all.
- Skills: Include Computer, Foreign Language (specify language proficiency), and specialise (i.e. Lab) skills.
- Note about GPA: If you choose to calculate your GPA, you may include it on your CV, however in most cases it is not required.
How should I describe my experiences?
Begin each sentence with an action verb (see the list provided for ideas) and describe what you DID at the position. Include goals of particular tasks and results (outcomes) where applicable. Use appropriate tense. Emphasise accomplishments and think about skills you acquired (transferable skills!) in each experience. You can use a bulleted format or a paragraph format (see examples). Tailor your experience to each job listing (i.e. if the job listing to which you are applying mentions a specific skill that you honed in a particular experience, make sure to include it). Whatever format you decide to use, make it READABLE to the employer.
What should NOT be on my CV?
- Personal information (height, weight, marital status, age, etc.)
- First person references, e.g. “I represented my DUG at the Brown Activities Fair”
- References or tag line “References available upon request”
- Entries starting with “responsibilities (or duties) included”
How should I submit my CV?
- If you are submitting your CV to your ACN associate you should submit it as a word document attached to an email. That way they can easily make any necessary edits. They will seal it in PDF before sending it to any partner organisations.
- If you are submitting your CV directly to an organisation then you should always submit it as a PDF. That way no one can edit or change your work.
Please see the example CV below – if you would like to use this template, please email your ACN associate for the Word version.
This information is provided courtesy of the Brown University Career Development Centre.
|CV Example||Action Verb List|