14 May CV Basics: Your Questions Answered
Q: Does a CV always need to be only one page?
A: CV length should not exceed two sides of A4 paper. How much of those two sides you fill depends on how much you have done. Undergraduates and school leavers may be hard pushed to fill two sides of A4 simply because they may not have very much experience, if this is the case one side of A4 will suffice. Conversely candidates who have established a career history will have to be selective as to what they include so that it all fits on, in this case make sensible use of margin and paragraph sizes.
Q: Should the education section always be near the top?
A: If you still are in or have recently completed formal education your academic achievements will form a major part of your qualifications, and it is recommended to place these near the top of your CV. Also some industries, notably communications, value related experience above degree work and therefore, place your academic qualifications further down the page.
Q: Is an objective always necessary?
A: No, it is not crucial, however an employer will be impressed if you have a focused idea of where you want your career to be heading, especially if it is in line with their planned development.
Q: What if I haven’t done very much to fill up my CV?
A: This does not matter, everyone has to start somewhere, if sparse content is a problem use sensible formatting and fonts so that you comfortably fill one side of A4.
Q: Do hobbies and personal interests need to be shown?
A: It is not imperative to show your interests however it can provide an employer with an insight into your personality. This will undoubtedly be covered at interview so the more you can prepare them the better.
Q: Must references be included?
A: It is advisable not to include references as part of your CV. A small note stating that ‘References available on request’ will be sufficient.
Q: What should be on my CV?
A: Contact details, nationality, an introduction, previous employment history, academic qualifications, hobbies and interests.
Q: What shouldn’t I put on my CV?
A: Religion, references, sexuality, why you left your previous jobs, all your school grades, a photo, lies.
Q: Do I have to include all of my exam results?
A: No, just the most recent and a summary of your A-Level, GCSE qualifications will be enough unless they are specifically relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Q: In what order do I list information?
A: Contact details at the top, a brief introduction, employment history, education, interests, and hobbies.
Q: What sort of paper should I print it on?
A: The best quality that you can get your hands on, but use common sense, do not get paper that is too thick.
Q: In what format should I save my CV?
A: Most recruiters have MS Office applications, and so a Word document will be suitable. It is a universal system that all recruiters, and company databases and tracking systems, will be able to view on their computer systems.
Q: How can I ensure that my CV will be read?
A: CVs usually aren’t read at first, they are scanned. With that in mind you should build your CV to be easily scanned by sight:
- • Present information in concise, compact statements. Avoid large blocks of text.
- • Organize your information so that the reader doesn’t have to hunt for your skills.
- • Use fonts and text styles consistently to provide visual structure to your document.
- • Leave plenty of white space so it isn’t cluttered.
- • Sprinkle industry buzzwords and use fresh, positive language.
- • Leave irrelevant, unnecessary or inappropriate information off your CV.
Q: Do I need more than one CV?
A: Construct a ‘core CV’ guide then configure that to the recipient each time you send it out.
Q: How far back should I go with the information I put on my CV?
A: Ten years is a maximum. Go back further and you run the risk of rambling on with irrelevant information. However, there are certain situations in which experience from more than ten years ago may be advantageous to show on your CV. In this case, it is usually a good idea to taper the descriptions of your experience as you work back (making entries less detailed). Another option may be to find another way to show experience or qualification from more than ten years ago.