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Your CV (Curriculum Vitae) and cover letter are usually the first impression that a company or organisation gets of you, so they have got to be perfect. That means knowing how to make your achievements shine.

CVs give basic information about you, your education, work experience, skills and achievements. Cover letters explain why you want the job and what makes you the right person for it.

CV sussed

  • Keep it simple. Print the CV in black ink on white A4 sized paper. You want it to be your achievements that stand out, not your use of bright pink paper!
  • Spell out Curriculum Vitae at the top rather than CV, and make sure to double-check the spelling.
  • Use a clear, easy to read letter font like Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Don’t try to put everything about yourself into the CV. Stick to two pages of the most relevant and important info: potential bosses don’t want to know about the Irish dancing medal you won when you were six! NOTE: If you’re applying for jobs in the United States, they look for a one-page resumé rather than a CV.
  • Start with your name and contact details at the top so that they’re easy to see.
  • Make sure to include your education, qualifications, relevant jobs and work experience, achievements and interests that help prove you’ve got the right skills for the job.
  • Don’t include (unless you’re asked) gender, a photo, if you’re married or not, nationality or reasons why you left other jobs.
  • Change your CV for each job you apply for. Look carefully at the job description and emphasise the skills or experience mentioned.
  • If you’re asked for referees, include a past employer, teacher or sports coach. Make sure to ask that person if they will give you a reference. If you’re not asked write ‘References available on request’ at the end of your CV.
  • Read over the finished CV a few times and make sure there are no spelling mistakes. This is extremely important, as many employers will simply throw your CV in the bin if they notice any spelling mistakes. Send it to yourself as well to make sure the formatting is a-ok.
  • Get someone else to read it and check it for mistakes and typos before you email it off.
  • Or, better still, post off a physical copy or drop it in in-person. Even if you don’t have to, some employers value that personal touch.

CV language

  • Keep sentences short, sharp and positive. Like “Developed training manual for new employees” or “Gained valuable experience in team-leading and problem solving”.
  • Make sure your CV is up to date. There’s no need to include information that’s more than five years old, unless it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Use bullet points to list your duties, skills and achievements in recent jobs.
  • Try to be original, it can be tough trying to describe yourself. LinkedIn have a list of the most overused words on Irish CVs, check them out and avoid!
  • Don’t include useless information just to fill space. Nobody wants to search through all the part-time jobs you had in the last 10 years.
  • Keep your CV positive and make sure to highlight your achievements.
  • Don’t lie about your experience and skills: you’ll get caught out eventually.

CV checklist

  • Have you included a mobile phone number and an email address that you check regularly?
  • Is your CV relevant to the job you are applying to?
  • If you’re emailing your CV, make sure to save the doc in your own name. If it’s just ‘CV.doc’ it will get lost in a pile.
  • The chances are that your CV will be scanned in 30 seconds, so keep everything clear and concise.
  • Always tailor your CV for the job you are applying for.
  • Always include a covering letter with your CV.
  • Make sure you can account for any gaps in your CV – as you may get asked about this at interview.
  • Most college careers services or youth information centres run CV workshops that will help you to get started.
  • Always get someone to read over your CV before you send it off.
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