Your CV is an essential part of any application process as it showcases your qualifications, skills and experience. On this page you will find information about how to present and structure your CV, as well as a range of sample CVs.
A standard CV in Ireland and the UK should not exceed two A4 pages and should be presented in a concise and easy-to-read manner. Choose accessible language - if you are coming from a science or technical background choose simple language that matches the terms in the job description, as the person in HR reviewing your CV may not come from the same background.
Your CV is your first point of contact with an employer, and it’s important to make a positive first impression. Employers receive a high volume of applications, so their first job is often to find reasons to dismiss applications and have less applications to read through in detail. In a competitive market, your CV could be put into the “no” pile for reasons which may seem minor but are in fact incredibly important. For example, you need to make sure that there are no spelling and grammar mistakes, and to spend time on the overall look of your CV so that it is easy for an employer to navigate. Misspelled words, poorly written content and an untidy layout all indicate a lack of attention to detail and professionalism. Take the time to go through your CV in detail and make sure it creates a positive impression. As it takes about 6 seconds for employers to decide whether they will look into your application further, you need to include your unique selling points on first page of your CV to attract employers’ attention.
What should you include in a CV?
An effective CV is one that showcases your skills, knowledge and experience that are relevant to the role. See ‘What type of CV should I prepare?’ for more detailed content.
The following sections should be included
Full name, current address, accessible contact number (usually your mobile number), a professional email address and your LinkedIn profile URL, or your Github if relevant.
Career Objective / Personal Profile (optional)
In this section you should reference your relevant experience briefly including highlighting key skills, and confirm your interest in a particular job or employment sector. This section should not be more than 4 or 5 lines long.
Skills Profile (optional)
Your skills profile should include a list of concrete skills, such as language or technical skills. Avoid listing generic skills such as team work and communication skills unless you also provide evidence of where these were developed.
Education and qualifications
- Your education should be presented in reverse-chronological order. If you are looking to show your in-depth knowledge about any particular subject, include your projects or thesis which evidence this.
- Show your overall grades and the breakdown of subjects within your degree relevant to your application, but don’t include all your subjects. List the four or five modules that are most relevant to the role.
- Leave out your Junior Certificate.
- Include your Leaving Certificate but do not include information about points achieved or individual subjects taken.
- Your experience should be presented in reverse-chronological order.
- Where relevant, you can split your experience into 2 sections: Relevant Work Experience (highlight first) and Other Work Experience.
- Include employment dates, your job title and the name of the organisation you worked for in each role.
- Emphasise both what you have learned and how you have made a difference to your employer, and talk about achievements at the workplace. Quantify where possible (e.g. “Taught English to groups of up to 25 adult learners”,
- Emphasise the skills gained in each job and make it clear where you demonstrated these skills.
- Your volunteering experience should be presented in reverse-chronological order.
- Include dates you were involved, a role title, and the name of the organisation for each position.
- Your experience whilst volunteering may not be directly related to your future job. If you have demonstrated transferrable skills in your volunteer work make sure to explain this, with supporting evidence.
Interests and activities
Mention any positions of responsibility that you have held in societies or clubs in College or in any outside organisations. Outline any tasks you undertook which provide evidence of skills development.
Get permission before you use someone as a referee. For jobs in the private sector you can include academic or work references. For postgraduate programmes you are likely to require two academic referees. Include their name, job title, employer and location.
What type of CV should I prepare?
You should use a format that best reflects your experience and skills and suits the job you are applying for. The 4 main types of CVs are:
In some instances a job advert may specify that applicants use the European or Europass CV format. This standard format CV has been developed as part of the Europass European initiative, to help people make their skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in Europe, thus facilitating the mobility of both learners and workers. View the Europass CV example here.
CVs when applying overseas
Recruitment practices are different in each country, and if you are applying overseas you should familiarise yourself with the standard application procedures and CV format and content in that country to increase your chance of success. Goinglobal is a resource to which you have access as a registered Trinity student. It includes advice and samples of the type of CV and cover letter expected in different countries, as well as information about how to find a job around the world.
Common CV mistakes
- Generic CVs – sending the same, untailored CV to every role to which you apply won’t impress your potential employer. It is important to highlight relevant work experience, education and skills for each role. Familiarise yourself with the job description and incorporate some of the employer’s language from the job description when referring to skills in your CV to show relevance.
- Sending your CV – make sure that you check your CV and give an appropriate name to your file when sending your CV as an attachment.
- Spelling and presentation – Think of your CV as being your first assignment sent to a potential employer - you want to do it well. Look at your format, structure and spelling. It is worth asking a friend, family or Careers Consultant to have a look at it to ensure you are creating a strong impression.
Please note that your Careers Consultant can give you feedback on the overall presentation of our CV as well as the content, but that we do not offer a proof-reading service.
Disclosing a disability
Information about disclosing disability can be found here.