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How to write a CV

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Lots of our students study English to improve their job prospects, and when you’re applying for a job it is highly likely that you will need to submit a CV. Here’s an article about how to make a really excellent CV, followed by some true or false questions to check your understanding. I hope you find it helpful!
Lesson by Caroline Devane.

Your CV is designed to do one thing and one thing only: to get you an interview. Yet the average recruiter will only spend between 20 to 30 seconds glancing at your CV which means that you need to make an impression quickly and sell yourself.

But with some employers receiving literally hundreds of unimaginative and uninspiring identikit applications for each advertised vacancy, how do you know what they are really looking for and how can you make your CV stand out from the crowd?

Personal Statement

This is your first opportunity to make an impression, get it wrong and your chances of being invited to interview are drastically reduced.

Employers need to have a reason to continue reading the rest of your CV because it is their job to attract and retain the best employees for their businesses. They have little or no interest in what you want out of your career. They want to know what you will do for them, how will you benefit their business? But most CVs fall into the trap of being too self-orientated.

For instance, phrases such as “Results-orientated professional seeking the opportunity to develop my career” or “Looking for a challenging opportunity…” should be avoided at all costs because they are focused on ‘me, me, me’.

Instead, your statement must make the same assumption that all good adverts do: “If you buy this product you will get these specific benefits”.

Employment History

Employers spend more time looking at this section than any other part of your CV. Consequently, this section needs to quickly convince a potential employer of your suitability to the advertised role and effectively market you.

This section needs to answer the following: Why should they hire you rather than another candidate? How can you provide added value to the company? What is unique about you? How can you fulfil their needs? Get the picture?

Max Bygraves famously said, “I want to tell you a story”. That is exactly what you are going to do here – tell recruiters your career story without sounding like a machine. Start with your most recent position and list in reverse chronological order.

Your most recent positions need the most attention because it is your skills and experiences gained in these roles that will determine your suitability for the role.

Show your start and finish dates in years only – it looks better and helps hide any gaps when you may have been ‘in-between’ jobs.

But whatever you do, do not bluff or tell white lies about your capabilities because they have the nasty habit of creeping up on you.

You may get caught out which could cause some embarrassment at a later date.

Indeed, a recent survey conducted by employee screening specialists The Risk Advisory Group found that 50% of all CVs in the UK contained at least one ‘falsehood’ or lie.

The authors of the survey wrote that the findings "brought to our attention how unscrupulous candidates can be when applying for jobs, and highlight their apparent lack of conscience towards potential new employers".


Job hunting is a buyers and sellers marketplace. You are the seller and employers are the buyers. To make yourself more attractive than your competition, you need to use all the tools in your armoury.

If you graduated from a highly regarded university, obtained excellent academic results or are currently studying towards a professional qualification relating to your chosen career, then position this section near the top of your CV.

However, if your career history is your strongest selling point then place the Education section towards the end of your CV.


This section highlights your unique selling points as a prospective employee.

Make it easy for employers to spot your talents and be clear about what you are offering. Employers refer to this section to determine what they will get in return on their investment in you.

Therefore, you need to sell yourself and demonstrate your skills and achievements. Show how you are going to be a positive addition to their workforce.

And, because the National Resume Writer’s Association reports 80% of CVs are placed directly into keyword-searchable databases, be deliberate with your choice of skills.

Key Words

assumption - something that you accept as true without question or proof.
to convince - to persuade someone or make them certain.
chronological - the order in which a series of events happened, or a list or explanation of these events in the order in which they happened.
to bluff - to deceive someone by making them think that you have knowledge that you do not really have.
white lie - a small lie / an untrue statement which does no harm or is intended to produce a good result.
unscrupulous - behaving in a way that is dishonest or unfair in order to get what you want.

To read the full article go to:

  • 1. Most employers read every CV they receive very carefully.

  • 2. You should always focus on your wants and needs in your personal statement.

  • 3. Employers believe that the 'previous employment' section is usually the most important.

  • 4. It is fine to tell some small lies, to improve your chances of employment.

  • 5. You should always put the most impressive things about yourself at the top of your CV.