Tip: If possible, try to avoid using a template from MSWord. This could mean hundreds of other CVs will look the same as yours and even more importantly if the employer is not using the same version it could mean that your CV is not readable, or the fonts and layout of your CV will be destroyed.
CV Pack (190kB)
UCC Career Services Guide to CVs (3,172kB)
CV Checklist (259kB)
A CV or Resumé is a document intended to give a brief but full account of your life to date in relation to your educational background, work experience, achievements, abilities and interests.
Brief - Maximum 2 A4 Pages. Simple statements, no long explanations.
Full - Include a reference to everything which is relevant and helpful to building up a full picture of you. You must have done your preparation in order to do this!
This factsheet describes how to make a good first impression and suggests what is accepted as good practice, but there are no absolute rules. Use you imagination when compiling your CV - your CV must reflect you - it should be as individual and unique as you are! Whatever job you apply for and whatever company you approach, your CV and letter of application should be tailored for that company’s particular requirement - research is required - be prepared!
Analysing your skills is the best way to acquire an inventory of skills, abilities and aptitudes. This is an essential process and should be completed before you attempt preparing a CV or completing an application form.
An effective CV will contain all or most of the following information - not necessarily in this order.
(a) Personal Details
Address (Home and term if appropriate)
Date of birth, gender and marital statusneed not be listed.
(Note: only offer information that may be to your advantage!)
(b) Education and Qualifications
Third Level Dates, university attended, courses undertaken, subjects studied each year, and known results. Do mention any prizes, distinctions, academic honours, projects, dissertations, relevant training and work placement.
Secondary Dates, school attended, level reached, final results.
CVs for technical posts and all jobs which are closely course-related should show detailed information on coursework. Give exact information on equipment used and the systems and methods with which you are familiar. Employers will also be very interested to know details of your final year project or dissertation and/or work placement.
(c) Work Experience/Employment History
For each job (voluntary as well as paid) give: dates of work experience, name of employer, job title and experience gained. Reverse chronological order usually looks best - the same as that used for educational qualifications. Use action verbs to describe how you did the job e.g. planned, developed, designed, analysed, supervised, etc. Use the past tense and be concise and comprehensive.
(d) Interests and Activities
List interests, hobbies, membership of clubs/societies, professional associations, or voluntary organisations, and positions of responsibility held. Refrain from listing political, religious and potentially controversial groups, because they don't belong on a CV.
(e) Additional Information
Skills acquired - ability with foreign languages, computing familiarity, systems and languages known, keyboard and typing skills. Training courses outside of college.
At least one academic, one non-academic. As a matter of courtesy you should keep referees informed of the positions you have applied for. Give each referee a copy of your C.V. so that he/she is aware of your full academic record, interests and work experience. Never put forward a person as a referee if you have not obtained their permission.
(g) Sign and Date each C.V.
Visual Impact - Layout is Critical
- A C.V. should always be word processed on good quality white paper.
- A C.V. should be easy to read, it should present the important facts about you both clearly and concisely. Research tells us that an item of advertising material has about a second and a half in which to attract the reader’s attention. Try the arms length test - hold your CV at arm’s length and see what kind of an impression it makes.
- Place the most relevant information first because CVs are often not read from beginning to end.
- Make good use of spacing, margins, indentations, capitalisation and underlining, be consistent with your use of these.
- Use bold type or iitalics to emphasise words and subject headings (do not over do it!).
- Make sure that the C.V. is letter-perfect. Errors, typing mistakes, stains, unexplained abbreviations, technical jargon or buzz-words are not acceptable. Have your final draft critiqued or proof-read by someone in a position of responsibility.
Remember, your CV is your marketing tool. Your aim is to entice the employer to interview you. Think carefully about the format you choose and make it appropriate to the different positions you apply for. CVs can appear in any one or a combination of the following formats.
SEVEN STEPS TO CV SUCCESS
Step 1: “S” – SMART, SHORT, SENSIBLE
The trick to a good CV is quality not quantity. Two pages in length, with maximum use of spacing. It should be well balanced so that when both pages are held at arms length, they look equal in the amount of content and that there is synchrony in layout and format. Content should be concise – relevant information only and key points should be immediately obvious. Easy to read, to the point – no spelling mistakes and printed on good quality paper.
STEP 2: ALL ABOUT ‘U’ AND YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS
A CV is a 2 dimensional representation of YOU. The trick is to highlight both your personality and experience so they jump out at the prospective employer. Create a unique and individual style yet do not veer too astray from the norm. You could bring out your name slightly larger so it makes an impact. Your personal details could be placed centered under your name or at the top right or left corner, reduced in font size like headed paper. Make sure that you put down the address and phone numbers that you will be contactable at.
STEP 3: “C” KEEP IT ‘CHRONOLOGICAL’
Always start with the present and work backwards. Therefore for education as an example, you start with your degree, (Title of course, university name, list of subjects in current year, results to date and any essays or projects undertaken…title, what you did how you did it and results achieved) and finish with your Leaving Certificate (Name of school, points awarded and list any subjects that you excelled in).
STEP 4: “C” – MAKE IT ‘CLEAR’
Clever use of bold and underlining is essential. Do not over do it. Test it…scan over the two pages, your eye should move quickly and easily down each page, focusing on the bold headings first, the employer will then, if interested go back and read the ancillary information.
STEP 5: “E” SUPPORT YOUR ‘EVIDENCE’
When listing a skill, support it with a real concrete example…e.g. Team skills developed through project work / team sport, presentation skills – use of power point / overhead projection on presenting a topic to a group of people.
STEP 6: “S” - ‘SEE’ AN ADVISOR
If you need any assistance in putting a CV together…be it the first time ever or updating or upgrading an existing CV, call into the Career Service. Not only do we have Career Advisors to help you out, but plenty of information and tips to go away with.
STEP 7: “S” – SECURE YOU AN INTERVIEW
And last but not least, the one thing a CV must do is secure you an interview. They are already interested in you through your CV so all you have to do now is to convince them that you are the person for the job!
Click below to download samples of CVs.
- Sample Arts CV (92kB)
- Sample Commerce CV (53kB)
- Sample Engineering CV (25kB)
- Sample Food Science CV (25kB)
- Sample Biotechnology CV (24kB)
- Sample Early Childhood Studies CV (37kB)
- Sample Law CV (43kB)
- Sample Occupational Therapy CV (354kB)
- Sample Science CV (25kB)
- Example of Targeted CV (opens a pdf in Prospects.ac.uk)
- Example of PhD CV - Academic Post (opens a pdf in Prospects.ac.uk)
- Example of a PhD CV - Non-Academic Post (opens a pdf in Prospects.ac.uk)
- Employers who want you to apply by e-mail expect a CV and a covering letter.
- Increasingly, employers are asking applicants not to send their CVs as attachments because of the danger of viruses, and some companies will automatically delete all e-mails with attachments. If you’re not sure what to do check with the company and they’ll advise you. They could ask you to send your CV as plain text within the body of an e-mail.
- Your e-mail address should be as business like as possible. If your address goes something like firstname.lastname@example.org change it or set up a separate address.
- Describe your previous jobs using nouns rather than verbs – i.e. engineer, programmer.
- Keep it simple – no fancy fonts or bullets. Keep everything left justified. Use asterisks instead of bullets.
- The plainer your CV, the more likely the recipients’ system will be able to read it. Do however, add a line to the end of your CV “A printed out, fully formatted version of this CV is available on request.”
- Save your files as plain text (usually called plain text, ASCII or text only, depending on your word processor) so that you can cut and paste it into an email.
- Get an employers’ view of your CV: look at it in the outbox before sending it off.
- Increasingly organisations are beginning to scan CVs electronically, using software that selects likely candidates based on key words. If your CV passes this first scan, it will be saved for further inspection.
- NB: A scanner will only pick out key words. The items that the scanner will be looking out for are: specific skills and qualifications
- BSC, MA, Microsoft NT, Java etc.
- Work Skills: organised, created, managed, trained, etc.
- Job positions: teacher, administrator, programmer etc.
- Look at the company’s advertisement carefully and pick out the key words.
- Be specific about what skills you have and write them down.
Key Action Words for CVs and Application Forms
Action words convey participation, involvement and accomplishment. They produce a strong impact on the reader. Use action words to make your CV and application more readable and distinctive.