How to apply yourself: Tips on writing CVs and application forms – and preparing for interview

The perfect CV
Many employers still use the CV as a form of initial screening for advertised jobs. They are also a useful tool when making a speculative application.

What is the purpose of a CV? Some people seem to view it as an exercise in self-aggrandisement; others produce a turgid list of activities reaching back to their cycling proficiency triumph in the 1980s. However, to create an effective CV which will work for you, you must consider what you are aiming to produce and what it will be used for. A curriculum vitae is not just a record of your life to date; you might as well write your autobiography or publish your diaries. Instead, a CV is a structured presentation of aspects of your experience, organised in a way that will make sense to the person reading it.

Take your starting point from the job to which you are applying. Good writing starts with the reader in mind; so does a good CV. Think carefully about who will be reading your CV and what they will be interested in. For the most part, employers will have a vacancy to fill. They will have a vision of the sort of person they would like to fill that vacancy. Your job is to write a CV which will convince the reader that you have the knowledge, skills or experience to meet their requirements. You can "sell" yourself as much as you want, using interesting action verbs or a beautifully phrased personal profile, but these techniques are likely to fall short if you are not telling the employer about something that they are interested in.


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