Your CV (sometimes called your "resume") is your most important tool when applying for a job. It doesn't matter how qualified you are, or how much experience you have - if your CV is poorly presented or badly written, you're going to have trouble getting the job you want - or even an interview. Here is our guide to improving your CV!
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How to write a CV?
The purpose of a CV
Your CV is a marketing tool. It needs to demonstrate:
That you are employable
How you meet the job and the organisation's requirements
That you have the right qualifications and education
That you have the right experience and skills
That you have the right level of professionalism for the job
How long should my CV be?
There is no set length for a CV. A CV varies in length depending on your experience and education. If you haven't worked much before, one or two pages is best, but three pages is okay if you've got a lot of study and work behind you.
Make sure you don't pad out your CV. If your CV is only one page, as long as it's well-presented it might get better results than a two-page CV full of unnecessary information.
How should I order my CV?
Generally, it's always good to present the information on your CV in this order:
List of key skills
Personal attributes/career overview
Employment history/volunteering/work placements
Not everything in this list must appear on your CV every time, and the order can change from application to application. For more information about each of these sections, check out "What Your CV Should Include", below.
The most important thing is to get the most useful information across first. For example, if your education history is not specifically related to the job, put it toward the end of your CV, behind the information that is related to the job.
Check out the CV templates on our Sample CV and cover letters page for examples of how you might want to order the information on your CV.
Do I need to change my CV for each application?
You need to tailor your CV to every job application so that it responds to the specific requirements of the job you're applying for. You might not need to change much, but you do need to make sure your opening statement, your key skills and your personal attributes all respond to the needs of the role, based on the job ad (if there was one) and the research you've done into the job. You should also tailor your CV to show how your work experience specifically meets the needs of the job you're applying for.
How to tailor your CV
Ways that you can tailor your CV include:
Using your opening statement to link your experience and education to the organisation and the requirements of the job
Listing your most relevant key skills first
Including examples of achievements that meet the advertised requirements of the job
What your CV should include
There are a number of things that every CV should have on it. Check out the CV templates on our Sample CV and cover letters page to get an idea of what each of these sections should look like.
Make sure you include your name, email address and a contact phone number on your CV. You don't have to include your home address, although there might be some situations when doing so would be a good idea.
Don't include your contact details in the header of your CV. Recruitment software sometimes has difficulty reading information in headers or footers, so it's a good idea to avoid headers altogether.
You can put your contact details in the footer of your CV, but if you do, you must make sure they're also in the main body of the document.
An opening statement is a summary of who you are, where you've studied and/or worked, and what you bring to the job. It should be about six lines long and written in first person without the personal reference (i.e., don't say "I did this" - say “Did this" instead).
Your opening statement should start with one sentence about who you are and what you bring to the job, then describe the skills and attributes you have that suit you to the job.
For some examples of opening statements, check out our Sample CV and cover letters page.
Key skills & strengths
Your CV should include a list of between 5 and 10 skills that link your experience to the job you're applying for. If the job you're applying for was advertised, either the ad or the position description may provide a list of skills and experiences that are essential for doing the job. It may also provide a list of "desirable" skills and experience. Your list of key skills & strengths needs to respond to all of the items on the "essential" list and as many items as possible on the "desirable" list.
When putting together this list, think of things you've done or learned to do as part of:
Jobs you've had
Any work placements you've done
Any volunteering you've done
For examples of the kinds of skills you might list, check out our Sample CVs and cover letters page.
This is a short list of the names of software or technology you know how to use. Examples might include:
Word processing or spreadsheet software
Tools (e.g., cash registers, EFTPOS)
If you haven't got much work experience, a list of personal attributes can be another way to demonstrate that you're the right person for the job.
Things you could include in this section might include ways you can demonstrate that you are reliable, honest, trustworthy or quick to learn new things. Check out our Employability skills page to see a few of the things that employers are commonly looking for. You can include between three to five personal attributes, but make sure you don't include them instead of your key skills.
Your Educational History only needs to show your highest level of education. You don't need to include your results, unless showing them proves how well you're suited to the job.
If you can, you should also include a few bullet points listing your academic achievements (e.g., school or class captaincies, awards you've won, or groups you've been part of).
When providing your employment history, start with your most recent job and go backwards from there. Give the position title and the dates you worked there.
If you haven't had a job before, you can use other things to demonstrate your experience, including:
Work experience you've done through school
Work placements or internships that you've done through university or TAFE
Volunteer work you've done
For each job provide a list of the things that you achieved while in that job, and the significant contributions you made to the organisation. Make sure that these achievements and contributions match the key skills and strengths listed earlier on your resume.
For examples of how you can do this, check out our Sample resumes and cover letters page.
Your resume should list two people who can positively recommend you as an employee. Ideally your references will be people that you have worked with before. Provide their name, their position title, and a way that they can be contacted.
What NOT to put on your CV
Here are a few things not to include on your CV. Note that there may be circumstances when including some of the following information shows that you're a good fit for the job. If that's the case, including that information would be a good idea.
You don't have to provide any personal or private information on your CV. There's no benefit to be gained from providing information that could be used to generalise about you as a potential employee.
Your CV doesn't have to include:
Any ailments or disabilities
Your health status
A possible exception to this might be when providing this information would give your application an advantage (e.g., if the employer is looking for someone young, or a female applicant). In these situations, consider including such information if you think it would strengthen your application.
Typos or factual errors
Submitting a CV or cover letter with spelling mistakes will guarantee you don't get an interview. You should spellcheck your CV before you send it, but you should also get someone else to read it as well and check for mistakes you might have missed.
Double-check everything that you include in your CV. If you mention the company's name, make sure you get it right. If you mention the name of places you've worked before, make sure you get that right. Mistakes on CV are worse than typos. You should also consider getting your resume looked at by someone professional. Check out "Reviewing your cv", below.
Images and graphics
Don't include images or photos on your CV. Not only are images disliked by recruiters and HR professionals, they can also create problems with recruitment software.
Content in headers
Many CV only feature the applicant's name and contact details in the header of the document. Some recruitment software is unable to read information in headers and footers. If you do include information in the header and footer of your CV, make sure you include it in the body of the document too.
Stick to easy-to-read fonts and formats. This makes it easier for recruiters to review your CV. It also means any recruitment software that reviews your CV can easily read the information. Good fonts to use include:
Don't use large headers to break up the sections of your CV. Use a 10- or 11-point font for your main content and a 12- or 14-point maximum for headers.
Reviewing your CV
Having someone else review your CV is extremely important. Make sure you use someone who will actually tell you if they think something isn’t right. People you could ask include:
Career guidance counsellors
Your parents or guardians