The chances are that you are applying for more than one job. So it is worth having a standard CV prepared. You might want to make a capsule version as well, for those times when the advertisement asks for no more than ‘brief details of past experience’ or the like.
But don’t send your standard CV out unthinkingly with every application. Very often it is better to produce a one-off version, tailor-made to the requirements of the job advertised. If you own a word processor you can adjust the standard pattern with little trouble to fit the specifications each time. It is far easier to adapt an existing CV than to devise one from scratch.
A CV should follow a fairly standard layout. Look through all the examples given here and work out the form best suited to you and your present application. No two people have the same history and background. You may have to combine features from several of the examples before producing a CV that is just right.
A CV should be as long as, and no longer than you need to tell prospective employers what they want to know. If possible, keep it down to one side unless you have a great deal of relevant experience. And, once again, make sure to set it out clearly and neatly. Send it off only when you are satisfied with its clean, fresh appearance. If it is badly dog-eared, or poorly photocopied, it will look like a hand-me-down from a previous (unsuccessful) application. This is not the impression you want to create.
DESCRIBING YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE
Put yourself in the shoes of the personnel manager reading a CV once more. What is the most important thing you are looking for in your potential recruits? Unless you have advertised specifically for school or college leavers, it is undoubtedly work experience that counts for most. It follows that the most important part of the CV will be the section describing previous jobs and the skills acquired there.
There are two ways of going about this. The first, and more traditional, is to present a set of ‘job descriptions’: you list the jobs you have held and describe briefly what each job entailed – for an example, see the overleaf. The second way, increasingly popular nowadays, is to present a ‘skills profile’. Here the emphasis is less on a job-by-job account of your working life, and more on the set of skills you have acquired. Also check out the blog on CV Tips – where you will find some more helpful advice.