Do's and don'ts for developing a CV

Your CV can be your first point of contact with potential employers, so making an impression is important.

Whether you are applying for a relief worker role or a more formal job, a CV is your chance to ‘sell’ what you have to offer based on your education, experience, skills and personality.

The way you present your CV can have an effect on whether it is read and whether it helps you get an interview, so it’s worth spending time and effort on the content and lay-out to make sure it’s easy to read.

Things to consider when creating your CV:

Do...

-    tailor your CV for each application. Look at what the employer’s requirements are and then pick out areas of your education, experience and achievements which best match them

-    use headings, bullet points and paragraphs so information is spaced-out and easy to read. Ask someone to read it before you send it to make sure you haven't got any spelling or grammar mistakes

-    provide all the contact details you can so employers can easily get hold of you, but make sure your answerphone message and email address will not embarrass you

-    include a paragraph at the beginning with a description of you which is tailored for the job

-    describe any previous employers’ work and responsibilities you had. The dates should start with the most recent work experience first

-    always describe your experiences in a positive way. Even if you didn’t enjoy a previous job, identify what you learned or what skills you developed

-    include experience and achievements at work, education and other activities, especially if they might be of interest to an employer. Holding a tractor or driving licence, IT skills, or outside interests that show you can work in a team could all be relevant

-    include your interests if they are substantial and relevant - saying you enjoy socialising is not worth mentioning, but mentioning being a member of Young Farmers where you carried out some first aid training or developed public speaking skills is

-    accompany your CV with a one-page covering letter which explains why you are interested in the vacancy and what you have to offer based on your skills and experience. Don’t worry if there is some overlap with your CV, just try to find a different way to phrase the information and don’t be afraid to sell yourself

Don’t...

-    hand-write your CV - it looks unprofessional

-    use colour or graphics unless they really help clarify your message. Left-justified text using a simple, black font on good-quality white or cream paper is best

-    over-use ‘I’ - it is more professional to speak as a third person

-    tell lies on your CV. If you get to an interview, you will need facts to back up what is written

-    include negative information. Failed exams, points on a driving licence or reasons for leaving a job could make the employer discard your CV before you even get a chance to impress at the interview stage. Don’t be untruthful, but avoid this information if you can

-    use the same CV for all applications - each job is different, so tweak your CV to show how you meet the job specifications

-    exceed a maximum of two pages. Listing the schools you attended with grades for each subject or a long work history isn't necessary. Concentrate on demonstrating the skills the employer needs

-    use acronyms, jargon or technical terms unless they are essential

Referees
Add your referees contact details at the end of your CV but don’t take up too much space. If you are currently employed, write that you can supply details on request.

Think carefully about who to ask to provide a reference to make sure they will make a good impression of you to your potential employer and be positive about your application.

Ask their permission before you use their names as a reference and once you know a reference is going to be requested, brief them on the company and the job so they can think about what they might say.

CV help
If you don’t know where to start, using a template can help. Agricultural recruitment company DeLacy has a pre-designed CV which you can customize – download here

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