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What is a CV?

A CV is a document containing a summary of your hobbies, skills, education, and work history. It is the document you attach to your cover letter when applying for a job vacancy.

Is there a standard CV layout?

Most CVs have a structure similar to this CV template. As you can see, the general layout is as follows:

  • Personal information
  • Work history
  • Education/Training/Certifications
  • Hobbies
  • References

Each section is explained in detail below.

Personal information

This section contains your name, contact information and nationality. Details such as your date of birth, marital status and gender are optional.

Work history

This section contains your work history in descending order. For each job include the name and address of the company, what your job title was, and the dates of employment. If you are currently employed, include your current job in this section, listing the dates of employment as "Start date - Present".

The most important details in this section are the bullet points listing your tasks and achievements. This is your chance to really sell yourself to the employer, so do not simply list the responsibilities of the role; mention anything which might impress the person reading your CV. For example, if you improved any of the company's processes or performed any tasks which went above and beyond what would be expected of you, mention them here.

The more recent the job, the more details you need to include. This is important as your last two jobs will be of most interest to the employer. If you have any "irrelevant" jobs, for example, if you spent three months doing something unrelated to your career, simply mention the title of the job without including any details as bullet points.

If your jobs required specific skills, mention them below each job. This can be useful as some recruiters use software to scan CVs for particular keywords.

Education/Certifications/Training

This section contains your education, certifications and training in descending order. The layout is similar to the work history section, however the bullet points will typically be limited to your exam results, any awards you received, and the title of your thesis, if relevant.

There is no need to list your Leaving Certificate results unless you did not go to college or only recently finished school. Courses which are irrelevant to your career should not appear on your CV.

Hobbies

This section contains your hobbies and is used to summarise your personality. Try to mention a physical hobby, an intellectual hobby, a creative hobby, and a social hobby. If possible, tailor your hobbies to suit the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a voluntary position, mention your charity work and any other selfless pursuits. It is also important you do not mention anything which could make the employer think you might be a risky hire.

References

This section should only contain the sentence "Referees available upon request". This is preferable as it allows you to contact your referees before the employer.

Common Questions

Should I use graphics or colours to help my CV stand out from the crowd?

No, your CV should be conformist. This means you should not include any graphics and should only use standard fonts such as black Arial, Verdana and Times New Roman. If possible, use the same font throughout your CV.

Should I attach my photograph to my CV?

You should only attach your photograph if you are applying for a modelling or public relations role.

How many pages long should I make my CV?

Your CV should be a maximum of 2 - 3 pages long. If you are having difficulty constraining your CV to this size, you can exclude the "Hobbies" or "References" sections, or jobs which are irrelevant to your current career or are a number of years old.

What format should my CV be saved as?

Your CV should be saved in Microsoft Word (97 - 2003) format, as not all employers use recent versions of Microsoft Word.

And finally...

Your CV must be grammatically correct. This means no spelling mistakes, no incorrect use of capitalisation, and no text speak! If you do not have good writing skills, get someone to review and correct your CV for you. It is vital you do not send the employer a poorly written CV.

We will update this article from time to time, so please check back periodically.