Writing a CV


What is your career history?

Think of your career history s one of the most important pieces of information you have to produce.

It can be as crucial as your:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Driving Licence
  • Passport

Having an accurate representation of yourself helps you gain access to the job or career you want – your passport to success!



Writing a CV – Grabbing attention

Your aim is to ensure that your career history is so compelling that it shouts at the reader: READ ME!


When busy human resource managers or managers are recruiting they will have at least 50 – 100  CVs to read.  You need to make sure that you catch their attention within the first 30 -45 seconds to ensure your CV is in the yes pile.



Writing a CV – Focus on achievements (not duties or responsibilities)

Many candidates simply list the duties and responsibilities of their roles in a CV. This tells the reader very little about what you can really do for them. Instead practice writing Work Experience Stories (WES) that focus on the results you achieved in each role.


The formula for writing Work Experience Stories is as follows:


  • C – challenge or circumstance when you began
  • A – action you took
  • R – Result that followed (quantified wherever possible)


Eg: “Increased sales significantly by developing new markets in North America, exceeding department sales target by 23% in 2008”


Writing a CV – Basic layout of your career history


Full Postal Address

Telephone number, Mobile phone number and E-mail address



Writing a CV – Profile

This is a short paragraph that describes what you have to offer an employer.



Writing a CV – Skills & Achievements List

Give a detailed account of those skills, activities and achievements that best represent your suitability for the job in question. This must be results oriented.



Writing a CV – Career Summary/Work Experience/Professional Record

Provide a complete history of your job experience including achievements (but not job descriptions). Job titles on the left and dates on the right hand side of the page



Writing a CV – Education & Training

Your highest educational achievement first and then anything else that is relevant to the role.



Other Relevant Information

You can include membership of professional bodies or associations or other important pieces of information  if they are relevant to the role for which you are applying.



Writing a CV – Personal Information

You can include your date of birth/age, marital status, nationality and interests here if you wish. Only include those things that present a positive side to you; be wary of anything that might be seen as controversial.



Writing a CV – What should not be in your career history


No need to give your CV a title other than your name



Do not include any reference to salary as this could exclude you from being considered for an interview by being too high or too low.


Reason for leaving

This can be difficult so save it for the interview – and only if asked directly. This gives you the chance of presenting the facts in the most positive light.



Avoid unless specifically requested



Exclude details about your physical appearance (height, weight etc) and about religious/political affiliations that could be prejudicial.



Make a note of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your referees on a separate sheet and include only when  you are asked to do so. You may wish to use different referees depending on the job you are applying for. Make sure you ask your referees if they are willing to act for you and keep them up to date on what is happening.



Coloured paper or coloured ink may look good to you but will not bear the test of being photocopied, faxed or scanned. Binders will be ripped off and certainly do not encourage recruiters to ‘keep you on file’ as they will take up too much space. Too many frames or shaded boxes and odd typefaces may just obscure your message



To be avoided in CVs and covering letters as it can so easily backfire. Keep your sense of humour for the interview and only then if you can gauge your audience.


You can if you wish outsource the entire process to the experts at www.CareerGuidance.ie, stick to what your good at!  So, if you want www.CareerGuidance.ie to develop and write a CV that will make you stand out, see this writing a CV link.


Diarmuid Haughian MA Career Guidance, QCG


Writing a CV

Writing a CV