A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a short document, usually no more than two pages, which summarises all the essential information that an employer would be interested to know about you. This will usually include:
- Your name, address and contact details
- Your education, degrees, and the grades you were awarded
- Other information relating to your skills, prizes or scholarships you might have won, or other relevant qualifications
- Your past work, starting with the most recent job. For each position, list the place, date, job title, and very briefly discuss your main roles and achievements.
- •Any other useful information - e.g. languages you speak, other useful qualifications or skills.
- •Personal Statement (optional). This is a short statement relating to your specific skillset – but make sure to make it clear and relevant to you rather than using generic phrases such as ‘I am a highly motivated individual who work well within a team and individually….’.
- Either include details of 2 people who will provide references for you (these should be senior people to you, from past work positions), OR a statement that references are available on request.
Academic CVs will also give a list of publications, and conferences attended.
The key to writing a successful CV is to make sure that all the relevant information is clear and obvious, whilst also appearing very professional. Keep in mind that the person reading your CV may well have many others in a pile, and therefore may only spend a minute or two on each one, so your CV is representing you and making your first impression. To make yours stand out, it must be very clear and concise, giving all the information that they want to read in a professional way.
There are many online resources that will help you to write a good CV. We have attempted to amalgamate them below for you so that you can easily find what you need.
If you’d like a well-formatted, GCP standard CV created for you, ready to save and print off as many times as you like, you can simply sign up and enter all your details into Global Health Trials’ Professional Membership Scheme. This will automatically create a standardised CV for you, which can also be used for site files. If you need any support with the scheme, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is advisable to have one core CV with all your information, and then to tailor it slightly for each job you apply for. To do so, carefully read the job description for the position you wish to apply for, and check what criteria the workplace is seeking. It may be the case, for example, that for one specific position they seek someone bilingual. In your usual CV you may have this information on the lower section of page 2 along with ‘other skills’ – so for this position, moving it up to the first page is advisable. It may also be worth highlighting any particularly relevant training events you’ve attended.
Oxford University offers an excellent checklist for your CV before sending it:
Top 8 tips for writing a good CV:
- Remember that your reader might have a pile of 50 CVs to read. Yours needs to give them the information they need as quickly as possible – so make sure the important points are clear, concise and prominently placed.
- Start with the most recent, and list your achievements – not your responsibilities (i.e. don’t list all the tasks you have in your current role, instead be brief and describe the aim and achievements you made overall).
- Make sure all the best bits appear on the first page – e.g. your degree and any other important training you’ve had, any prizes you might have won, perhaps a short personal statement.
- Include a short section on other skills you have – e.g. languages you speak, which types of software you’re familiar with, and any other relevant skills (e.g. perhaps a driving license is relevant to your job? Other qualifications you have?).
- Try to make sure your CV is no more than 2 pages long. Academic CVs can be longer, but the skills/qualifications/work experience parts should still be kept to two pages, with your papers in a section following this.
- Ask someone else to read your CV before you send it out. They can check carefully for spelling errors and typos, but also make sure that it makes sense and is relevant.
- Make sure your CV looks smart and professional; remember that it is representing you. Use the same font throughout (just using bold or underline for headings), don’t use colour, and use clear headings so that it is easy for people to quickly scan through and get the information they’re seeking.
- Do tailor your CV slightly for each job you apply to, but only if necessary. If the role is seeking someone with a particular skill set, make sure you make it clear you have those skills.
Top 7 Worst things to do on your CV:
- Lie about your qualifications or skills – you might well get caught out
- Use elaborate fonts and colours so your CV stands out – this is usually considered unprofessional and unnecessary. Your skills and experience should speak for themselves.
- Making your CV gimmicky using different shapes and pictures – again, this is unnecessary.
- Include a photo - particularly if it’s a selfie! It’s not necessary to include a photo, but if you want to do so, make sure it’s professional (like a passport picture).
- Use clichéd terms, e.g. “I am a highly motivated individual who works well on my own or in a team, with exceptional communication skills and the ability to work under pressure to produce results under tight deadlines”. These are things everyone will say. What’s different about you? If you’re including a personal statement, make sure it really is personal.
- Write many pages of information; you should be brief and to the point
- Leaving irrelevant information on your CV. The reader doesn’t need to know about a weekend job that you did when you were 16.
There are some very good examples of different types of CVs provided for free on this website: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/cv-templates.
CV Library: How to Write a Successful CV: http://www.cv-library.co.uk/cvtips.html
Oxford University Careers Advice: http://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CVS.pdf
Jobs.ac.uk careers advice: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/cv-templates/1930/top-10-tips-worst-things-to-do-on-your-cv/
Vitae.co.uk: support for research careers https://www.vitae.ac.uk/spotlight/developing-as-a-researcher
Good article!!. For the past 8 months, I have been busy with an organization where part of my role is to screen CVs to fill some positions . It is sad that many people do not know how to document their CVs to enable them get the job. This articles gives the succinct point required for documenting a good CV. Thanks.