Your CV must get you an interview.
CV stands for the Latin words Curriculum Vitae, which mean: the course of one's life. A CV is also called a résumé, resumé or resume (especially in American English). Your CV is a summary of your professional/academic life until now, and it usually concentrates on your personal details, education and work experience.
Your CV's job is very simple: to get you a job interview. To do this, your CV must be:
- easy to read
- relevant to the job offered
Your CV is the summary of your professional life. You should include everything that is relevant to your employment or career and nothing that is irrelevant. Exactly what you include depends partly on your type of work. There are usually 5 general headings of information to include:
- personal details - name, address, email and telephone number (and sometimes nationality, age/date of birth and marital status)
- objective - a headline that summarises the job opportunity you are seeking
- work experience - your previous employment in reverse chronological order - with most detail for your present or most recent job
- education - details of secondary and university education - including the establishments and qualifications (but excluding any that are irrelevant to your career)
- personal interests - demonstrating that you are a balanced, responsible member of society with an interesting life outside work
Sometimes, you may need to give additional information for a particular job or because you have special qualifications. Here is a list of most of the possible headings.
Word-processed or hand-written?
Your CV should be word-processed, for several reasons. Firstly, in the English-speaking world a hand-written CV would be considered unprofessional. Secondly, many recruitment agencies and some employers like to electronically scan CVs (they cannot do this with hand-written CVs). Thirdly, as we shall see later, it will be much easier for you to update and modify your CV to target it to a specific employer.
How many pages?
Unless you are applying to be Secretary General of the United Nations, it is probably best to limit your CV to a maximum of 2 pages. Remember, your CV is a tool to get you an interview: it is not designed to get you the job. You can usually put everything you need to get an interview on 1 or 2 pages. If you put more than this, the employer has too much to read (and may throw your CV into the nearest bin). In addition, if you put everything in the CV, you will have nothing new to say at the interview. Be kind to employers! Leave them some questions to ask you.
What size paper?
Do not be tempted to demonstrate your individuality by using a non-standard paper size: you will simply irritate the employer. There are basically 2 standard paper sizes, depending on the part of the world:
- A4 (297 x 210 millimetres) - used largely in Europe, including the United Kingdom
- US Letter Size (8 1/2 x 11 inches) - used largely in the United States
You must judge for yourself the most appropriate size for the company or companies to which you are applying.
What quality paper?
Remember that your CV may be read and handled by several people. It will also be an important document during the interview that you hope to have. Choose a good quality, fairly heavy paper so that it will remain in good condition at all times. Normal photocopying paper is 80g/m2 in weight. This is a little too light and will soon look creased and dirty. 100g/m2 or 115g/m2 would be better.
What sort of typeface?
Choose an easy-to-read typeface. Typefaces are designed for specific purposes. The standard typefaces Times New Roman or Arial are perfect for your CV. Not too small, not too large! A size of 12 point would be appropriate.
DO NOT USE ALL CAPITALS LIKE THIS! CAPITALS ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO READ AND MAY BE CONSIDERED IMPOLITE IN THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD. Do not use a lot of italic like this. Italic can also be difficult and irritating to read. Do not use a fancy typeface. It is not appropriate for a professional document.