The Secrets to a Great CV

For a lot of our new DCU-ers, this will be your first time applying for a job so it’s vital you formulate your CVs properly and professionally. Here are a few simple guidelines that have always worked for me – so listen up.

Of course there are the really obvious bits that everyone knows you have to include; your name, date of birth, address, nationality, email address and mobile number etc. It is also necessary to include your previous and current education, but there are guidelines to this. You do not need to include both your junior and leaving certificate results. Another helpful hint while we’re covering this section is this: you do not need to include each grade you received for each subject individually; that really isn’t anyone’s business but your own. All you need to say is that you received however many points, and sat however many higher or ordinary subjects. Simple as that. Then mention your college and chosen course. Of course if you aren’t a fresher then mention what year you are in and what grade you received in your exams last year.

Next move onto your previous work experience. This can go wrong in one of two ways; you either have a lot of work places mentioned – in which case any prospective employers will fear that you have a very short attention span and love to move around from job to job or, that you have been let go one too many times. On the other hand, you may have too few work places, which leads employers to believe that you are inexperienced and will require far more training than someone who has worked before. Not cool, I know.

So my advice to the people who have had many jobs is this: narrow it down. Pick the jobs you spent the most time in. This reflects well to new employers as they will see that you are loyal and that your last employer wanted to keep you as long as possible. Also, pick the jobs that you had the most responsibility in and don’t be afraid to list them all out. Write down that you were regularly put in charge of deliveries or that you were often the only one manning the cash register. Play up your skills.

If you are like many young people and have never had a job before, fear not. You have more than likely done work experience of some sort. Use that and just pad it out. Say you did it for a fortnight or three weeks, list all the jobs and tasks you completed and the skills you learned. If it was in a reception, say you learned how to deal with members of the public. Explain that because of that work experience you can now work calmly and efficiently under pressure. If you didn’t do work experience, there’s got to be something so don’t panic. Do you babysit? If so, be clever about it. Say you’re a ‘child minder’. If they are your cousins, leave that part out. CVs are all about selling yourself, so if you have ever organised something, be it a bake sale or a five-a-side football tournament, use it.

Next, always include a small section about your hobbies. Keep it short and sweet but employers do like to see that you are active and have a variety of interests. So if you’re on a team, a member in a gym or a dancer, put it down. Employers want to hire well rounded, motivated and interesting people so this is the perfect way to give them a little glimpse of your personality.

‘Skills’ is another section worth devoting a paragraph to; just make sure you don’t repeat what you have already said in the hobbies section. This is the part where you tell them the aspects of your personality that you think would help you with the job. Tell them you’re loyal, hardworking, self-motivated but also able to work in a team. Tell them that you’re a quick learner and a people person. But bear in mind the kind of job that you are going for and try tweaking this section to make sure it’s relevant.

Now let’s talk references. They are a must, and I’m sure your Mum and your Aunt think you’re just fantastic – but it isn’t their opinion that your potential boss is looking for. Use an old manager that you are still on good terms with. If you have never had a job, use an old teacher, principal or coach.

Finally, I hope these points would go without saying but just in case: Use the spell check. Use a normal font. Use correct, appropriate and proper English. Justify your CV to make it easy to read. Triple and quadruple check it before you hand it in anywhere – and remember, if you are handing them into the employer and not applying online, wear your Sunday best and a huge smile. Please no tracksuits or wife-beaters.

Emma Dungan

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