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A CV is more than just a summary of your past. It is also a calling card that says something about what kind of person you are. A good CV makes things easier for potential employers, because it contains only the information that is most relevant for them, and summarizes it in a clear and convincing way.

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Every CV is different and the best CVs are tailored to a particular job vacancy. When you are adapting your CV for a specific job application, you will have to decide what information to include and what to leave out. For example, you can leave out any work experience that is not relevant to the position, while experience that is especially relevant for this particular job can be explained in more detail. As you review your experience, you will find that there are various ways to draw attention to a particular work placement, part-time job or degree programme you have followed. If you worked as a student assistant, for example, you could emphasize the organizational responsibilities you had, or you could instead focus on the contact you had with students. The choice will depend on what the prospective employer is looking for. You can also focus on specific aspects of your degree programme. For example, you could mention specific course units that will be useful in this position, or it may be that your final project ties in closely with the kind of work you are applying for. Do not describe everything you have ever done, but make strategic choices.

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Avoid clutter

By deleting all irrelevant experience you will be left with only the essential information. This will make your CV easier to read. In principle, a CV is always two pages long, so that the prospective employer can quickly see whether you meet the basic requirements. The easiest way to create a CV that is easy to read is to structure it in clearly separate sections (e.g. your education history in one section and your personal details in another). Align all data in a single column on the left of the page. Use bullets instead of written paragraphs to list responsibilities, skills or course modules. Enter previous positions and titles of degree programmes in bold or underlined text so that the reader can see at a glance what you have done.

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You can write a profile at the top of the CV, just below your personal details. This profile tells the reader about your motivation and ambitions in 3 or 4 sentences. An effective profile conveys enthusiasm, leaving prospective employers in no doubt that you will be a motivated employee. Avoid descriptions that could apply to any applicant. Be brave enough to reveal who you really are and what makes you different. Your CV will be more convincing if you include a number of references. Depending on the situation, you can either offer to provide references on request or include the names of your referees directly in your CV (remember to ask their permission first!). Do not provide your referees’ contact details unless asked, so that you can let them know in advance that someone will be in touch with them.

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Last modified:11 May 2021 2.29 p.m.
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