Curriculum Vitae (CV) Tips
What is a CV?
CV is short for ‘curriculum vitae’. It is a marketing tool because it promotes ‘you’ to a potential employer and hopefully makes the employer want to interview you.
Your CV should ‘fit’ each new job application.
As a school leaver you may think you've only got your education and qualifications to put into your CV. Not so!
Think carefully about the skills you've developed through extracurricular activities, church, school, clubs, work experience and hobbies. Include in your CV any of these skills that would be useful to the job, eg organisational skills, leadership skills.
A career statement or goal placed after contact details can be a way to make an impression. It should be simple and describe where you see yourself heading, making a clear reference to the job you're applying for. Example:
Nanny job: I love young children and wish to find a job that will develop my babysitting skills and ECE school study in an interesting and challenging way.
Building job: I am interested in using the skills I’ve learned in Technology at school to gain experience on building sites so I can eventually get an apprenticeship.
NB: Part time jobs often don’t need a career statement.
- Tell the truth
- Use bullet points and short statements.
- Do a rough copy first.
- Get someone else to look over the draft to check grammar and spelling.
- Type on one side of A4 paper using 12 point font size.
- Use larger point size for headings, etc. (Your CV should be separate from your covering letter.)
- Have a cover page with your name (and contact details if you wish).
- Avoid too many fancy gimmicks.
- Your CV should be easy to follow.
- If applying for creative positions, you need to take a creative approach BUT your copy still needs to be easy to read and follow.
- Consider sending it in a plastic colour folder or sheaf. Keep your CV tidy and make it stand out.
- Name (largest words on page)
- Contact details
- Summary of Skills or Personal Qualities
- Employment History
- Educational History
- Start with your name and contact details.
- Include your email if you check it regularly. Make sure your email isn’t too casual eg firstname.lastname@example.org is NOT appropriate!
- Including your age isn't compulsory but might be useful for a school leaver.
- Follow your name with a list summarising your skills, knowledge and personal qualities. Make sure you emphasise the skills you have that the employer wants.
- If you have work experience or employment history, put it before educational achievements. Start with your current job and go backwards.
- Then put educational qualifications, starting with your most recent. Follow with academic and other achievements in chronological order.
- Include tidy photocopies of academic records, references and other credentials.Don't ever send originals.
- Include the name, title and phone number of two or three referees who can talk about your skills and abilities (ie a teacher or someone you've worked for, not your friendly aunt who doesn't know your work habits).
- Ask the person if they're happy to be your referee before you include them in your CV. Then keep them up to date with jobs you're applying for so they know what to talk about.
Have no skills? Think again!
- Interaction and Communication - can talk and listen to individuals and groups of varying ages (friends' problems, teachers' discussions, chats with grandparents)
- Written communication – (assignments, involved in writing music reviews on web, or newsletter or yearbook)
- Co-operative approaches - good at working in sports teams, class groups, clubs etc
- Creative - love making and doing new things (clothing, assignment cover, make-up, go-kart, electronics) and/or see new ways of solving problems
- Independent - make your own decisions and live with them (deciding when to do assignments, getting yourself places)
- Team person - enjoy working with others and sharing ideas (school group work, voluntary work, fund-raising)
- Organiser - can get things happening (parties, tramping, ball committee, stage production) and can gather, sort and organise information
- Leadership - can deal with different people in a group and help them (prefect, peer support, student council, captain of sport’s team)
- Cautious - carefully check things out before doing them (changing subjects, going on holiday)
- Teaching/coaching skills – help with Sunday School teaching, Brownies, Homework Centre, sport coaching
- Risk taker - like trying out new things (do something independent of friends, trying out a new approach to a problem or situation)
- Numeracy – can add, subtract, multiply, divide (cash, invoices) and interpret basic data (learnt in Sciences, Maths and English etc)
- Computer literacy - can use basic software packages as well as the keyboard
- Driving (even learner’s licence helps)
- First Aid
- Public Speaking and Debating
- Waiting on tables, kitchen handing, counter or check out (demonstrates customer service experience)
- Babysitting (shows reliability, organizational skills, interest in others)
MAKE SURE YOUR CV IS CLEAR, CONCISE, COMPLETE, CONSISTENT AND CURRENT.
Cover Letter Tips
Cover letters should be:
- Written in respectful, polite and confident language
- Follow the layout of a standard business letter (see sample)
- Address to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ if you don’t know the name of the person it should be addressed to. However, the best option is to use the person’s name.
- Never guess someone’s gender - Kelly Brown could be male or female.
- State the position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised (eg name and date of newspaper or website)
- Start a new paragraph for each point you wish to make about how perfect you’ll be for the job.
- Finish with ‘Yours truly’
- Leave a space to write your signature, then type your name below it.
Body of letter
- 1st paragraph: State the position (as above) and explain what attracts you to the job.
- 2nd paragraph: Explain why you would suit it, including:
relevant qualifications and how they fit the job
relevant work experience and how you’ve developed appropriate skills for the job e.g. working at McDonald’s has taught me about customer service.
relevant achievements and how they show your abilities, e.g. coached a sport’s team, won an award in food technology.
describe your skills in every area asked for in the advertisement
- 3rd paragraph: Explain why you’d be interested in working in THEIR business/organization (eg, favourite shop, like products, know they have a good environmental attitude).
- 4th paragraph: State you’re including your CV with this letter and look forward to meeting them at an interview. Make sure you indicate times you are NOT available.
- Double check all spelling, especially the name of company and people's names. Get someone else to look over it too. The computer doesn’t pick up inaccurate use of words, eg right and write.
- Do a new letter for each job application and keep a copy for your own records. This will help if you get an interview.
- Make sure you send to the RIGHT person and location by double checking the address given on the job advertisement.
- Make sure your writing on the envelope is easy to read and the envelope not dirty or scrunched.
Good luck … Good luck … Good luck … Good luck … Good luck …
Interview Tips I
This is your big chance to impress and shine, so don’t let yourself down by going to an interview looking like you don’t care or not being prepared with answers that show how good you will be in the job.
- CLOTHING - Think about how you dress. A tongue stud is not acceptable, nor is a bare midriff or trousers that ride too low. Think about how the workers in the store or business dress, and try and go for a similar look. Wear something smart but comfortable. There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable.
- ATTITUDE - Don’t chew gum, smell of cigarette or reek of perfume or aftershave.
- CLEANLINESS - Be clean – not just clean clothes, but make sure you have clean hair, clean hands, clean fingernails, clean shoes.
- PUNCTUALITY - Work out how long it will take you to get to the interview and then get there EARLY. Being late because you missed the bus or couldn’t find a car park is not a good look.
- POLITENESS - Greet the interviewers with a firm handshake, look them in the eye, smile and greet them as Mr or Mrs or Ms and their surname unless they ask you to call them by their first name. Don’t sit down until you are offered a chair. Make sure your cell phone is turned off. If it isn’t and it rings do NOT answer it because that is very rude.
Interview Tips II
Questions you may be asked
Practise answering the following questions, keeping in mind the job you’re after. You need to be able to talk about your strengths, show you know the skills required for the job and show that you have those skills.
- Tell me about yourself They want to know about your strengths. Think back to the skills you listed in your CV. Are you a good team player, methodical, love sport, love maths, enjoy being with young children, like doing things practical? Now, how many of those skills and qualities would be good for the job? Talk about those.
- Why do you want to work for us? Talk about your interest in the job. If it is a pharmacy, you might be keen because of an interest in cosmetics or health. If you’re applying for a job on a construction site you might be keen because you enjoy physical work and you’re interested in how buildings are put together. See? Or you may have heard that it is a good company to work for because there is variety in the work and lots of professional development.
- What can you offer us? If there is a job description with the job advertisement, make sure you show you have the qualities they ask for in the job description.
Give examples of situations where you have displayed good qualities. Team work – talk about your sport, performance or debating roles. Or talk about group assignments and how you work in a team doing assignments.
You show initiative by fixing an engine or computer that has broken. You show flexibility when you have to change classes or schools.
You show communication skills through debating, peer mentoring, sports and performances.
- What was your favourite subject at school and why? Choose one you like THAT also has an association with the job you’re applying for. So; Technology and Maths for carpentry; Catering and Hospitality for any hospitality course; English and/or Media Studies for anything to do with communication skills.
- What are some of your hobbies and interests? Interviewers are looking for well rounded people who have interests outside their workplace; a way to let off steam and get rid of stress. People with hobbies and interests will find it easier to chat to customers and provide good customer service. Being involved in activities outside of study also shows you have good time management and organisational skills.
- Tell us about a time when something went wrong and you had to sort it out. This question is designed to see what you’re like at solving problems and is asking you to think of a real life experience and talk about how you dealt with it. Avoid talking about lost loves or personal arguments.
- Tell me about a time you worked in a team. What was your contribution? OR When there was a disagreement, how did you sort it out? Team work is essential in most jobs and you can use examples from sport, performance or group work in the classroom.
- What are your weaknesses? Employers want to know that you have reasonable self knowledge. However don’t tell them all your personal weaknesses. Think of things that can be turned into strengths, such as I am fussy about my work. If you don’t have a skill they’ve asked for, this could be a good time to mention it and show a willingness to develop that skill.
- Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Show you want to keep on learning and developing. For example, you’d like to become a supervisor in a retail job, or a manager in a pizza place or eventually do some study that expands your knowledge for the job.
Yes, it can be hard to talk about your talents, but now is not the time to be modest. If you’re not sure how to describe yourself, ask others - family and/or friends, the Career Counsellor and/or teachers.