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How to Write a CV

Writing your own CV can seem a formidable task.  What to leave in is almost as important as what to leave out.  Describing your own strengths and skill sets can be tough.  Below we outline what is most important in writing your CV.  The current employment climate means that employers are looking to consistently improve on productivity and match a prospective employee’s skills and experience with the job needs, both now and in the future.

CV Design and Presentation

CV’s are a very subjective topic.  Some people write them and they are over long, some are plainly lacking in any relevant info at all.  Anyway, here are some guidelines for you that we see as essential in presenting the best case for yourself.

Always ensure that your CV is laser-printed on white, quality paper, use a clean typeface with a font of 12.  The use of sub-headings (e.g. Personal details, career history, etc.) will help potential employers scan easily through your details. Space the headings evenly.

Your name, address and phone number(s) should form the start of the document.  Commencing with your present or most recent employer, state your career history.  Then list your professional qualifications.  If you have been working for many years list your academic qualifications and a very brief mention as to your college or school.  If you are just commencing your working life, having previously been a student, provide a more in depth knowledge regarding your academic achievements to date.

Starting with your current or most recent employment, provide details of your position as follows:

  • Job title – time period that you worked there for.
  • The key tasks and responsibilities that comprise this role’s and your achievements whilst in the role
  • Where possible validate your achievements with facts and figures.
  • Promote your skills that will appeal to the potential employers.

For all previous employment, unless one appointment was more significant than your current or last position, keep details brief i.e. the name of the company, job title, period of employment and the job.  Ensure there are no gaps in your career history, as it will be asked of you to explain any periods not mentioned on your CV.

If you are a student just starting work, give examples to demonstrate your practical skills e.g. school member of sports team, and contributor to college magazine or voluntary work.

If the prospective role is in a team environment, mention that you belong to a local organisation or if you are part of a sports team.

Your CV should be no more than two A4 pages.

  • Be positive and be confident!
  • First impressions last!

Interview Tips

Interviews have changed drastically over the past number of years.  Many employers now use behavioural interview techniques where they ask the candidate, a situational question that requires them to give an example of when this has happened to you and what you did about it.  These are designed to allow the employer to get a better feel for how you would react in a work type situation.  It also shows them how well prepared you are.

These interviews can be extremely tough if you have not done enough preparation.  However, if you are prepared and organised you can make the interview seem less daunting and therefore you are less nervous.

Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Make sure you know the style the interview will run in; if in doubt presume it will be behavioural.
  • Practice some questions and answers so you are prepared and know how to answer a question.
  • Try to reduce your nerves, do something that relaxes you beforehand.  The more prepared you are the less nervous you will be.
  • Try not to go off topic, answer what the questions asks, going off topic makes you look as if you do not have the correct/appropriate answer. Here are some example questions you could use to practice with:
    • Tell me about a time where you were asked to do something you disagreed with?
    • What experiences have you had working in a team?
    • Tell me about the last time you had a disagreement with someone in the work place?
    • Tell me about a current event you have been following in the media, why do you choose to follow this story?

Managing Stress

The demands of modern life, means tension and stress impacts us all. The thing to remember with stress is knowing how to manage it effectively. We need to understand what stress is, its causes, what effect it can have on you and how to avoid it.  Here are the Shamrock Recruitment quick Tips.

  • Stress? What is it?
    Feeling tense, trapped, wound up, nervous, poor concentration. These can manifest themselves as aggression, irritability, being overcome with work concerns, and changes in your diet.  All this will result in poor health.  You will experience headaches, tiredness, raised blood pressure, and generally poor overall health.
  • Managing Stress
    Having a well-balanced lifestyle and healthy diet is a great start. Doing things that relax you are also a great tool to cope well.  Breathing exercises are a great way to relax, taking a walk or partaking in physical activity are great things to do to manage and relieve your stress.
  • The Bigger picture
    When stress starts to affect you, step away from the situation and take a realistic look at what you are asking of yourself.  Assessing the situation in this way allows you some downtime and lets you deal with the stress in a managed fashion. When we are stressed we are most likely trying to please everybody, and this is difficult to do at the best of times.  If you recognize this then you should realise that you can help yourself by looking after yourself first, then you can operate better in helping others later.  Try not to worrying about a situation.  A small amount of positive action, will give you a boost, making you feel much more positive about the situation you are in.  Try not to worry about things that haven’t yet happened or that you can’t do anything about.
  • Stay Positive
    Positive thinking, positive visualisation, and a little fun and laughter are great ingredients to managing stress and creating a better environment for you to operate in.  What’s outside of your control is exactly that, outside of your control, so try not burdening yourself with worries about anything that exists in there.  The glass is half full, always!