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Creating your first CV

What is a CV?

Employers will use your curriculum vitae (CV) to decide whether you're suitable for a job vacancy. It's a record of your qualifications and skills, so make sure it's up to date whenever you apply for a new job.

Why does a CV matter?

Employers choose who they want to interview from what is contained on your CV, so it's really important that it's easy to understand and shows off your plus points.

Spelling mistakes, poor grammar and missing information on a CV look really bad and if it is incomplete, employers may simply throw it in the bin.

CV basics

There's no right or wrong way to set out a CV, but there are some standard sections that they should contain. These are:

  • personal and contact information
  • education and qualifications
  • work history
  • skills relevant to the job
  • interests
  • references

References should be from people who know you well and can tell an employer about what you have done in the past. They are usually your last two employers, but if you haven't worked before, you can use a teacher or a tutor from school or college.

When you're describing your interests, highlight the things that show off the skills that employers look for. Some really good things to include are:

  • any examples of working in a team
  • relevant voluntary work or work experience
  • positions of responsibility
  • any activity that shows off using initiative

Your skills

It's also important to include a section dedicated to your skills. The ones that you mention will depend on the job you're applying for, but some examples of key skills can make you really stand out.

Key skills include:

  • computer skills - including using commonly-used programs
  • writing a blog or knowledge of web design
  • communication skills - if you're confident in speaking in front of groups and calm and friendly on the telephone
  • team working - if you've ever worked in a large group of people like a sports team or a drama group
  • problem solving ability - think about any problems you have overcome and how you did it

Keep it short

Keep your CV to a maximum of two sides of A4 paper. Employers receive a lot of CVs, so it's unlikely that they will read each one from start to finish. In fact, most will make a judgment about a CV after a few seconds, so keep it as short as possible.

Finally, be honest. If you lie about your level of experience or the skills that you have and your employer finds out, you could face the sack.

Matching your CV to a job

Because different jobs need different sets of skills, you should make changes to your CV so that it closely relates to whatever you are applying for.

You don't have to re-write it completely, but you may want to re-draft or re-order some of your interests and skills so the most important ones are nearer the beginning of the document.

You might also want to remove things that you don't need to mention for a particular job.

Keeping your CV updated

It's really important to review your CV regularly, so that all your skills and experiences are included and it is an accurate and positive reflection of you.

If you've recently completed a work placement or started to volunteer, make sure you record it on your CV along with a short description of what your main duties were and what skills you used. You should also add any new qualifications to your CV as soon as you get them.

You can visit the Mersey Interactive website for more support around creating your first CV.