Parts of a CV

Find out about the sections that make up a CV and what information to include in each of them.

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What your CV should include

What you put in your CV depends on the type of job you're applying for.

A CV must include this:

  • name and contact details
  • skills
  • work and volunteering history
  • education
  • referees (you can include referees or note that referees are available on request).

A CV could include this:

  • personal statement or objective
  • hobbies and interests
  • achievements
  • job specific information (for example, a teacher would put their teaching philosophy in their CV).

Two types of CV

There are two main types of CV:

  • Skills-focused CV – this CV lists your skills first. 
  • Work-focused CV – this CV lists your work history first.

Name and contact details

Include:

  • first and last name (this should be in a large bolded font)
  • phone number (preferably a landline and cellphone)
  • work-appropriate email address
  • postal address, including area code.

If you have an online work profile, such as LinkedIn, put it here as well.

Make sure your:

  • email address is appropriate for job application purposes
  • recorded phone voicemail message is simple, identifies you correctly and will not offend an employer.

Personal statement or objective

A personal statement or objective is an optional paragraph or two about yourself that comes directly after your contact details. 

The statement gives the employer a little insight into who you are. It typically includes information such as:

  • what you are currently doing for employment or education
  • what attracted you to the job you are applying for
  • your reason for wanting to change jobs
  • your career aspirations.

It is important to tailor your CV for each job you apply for, so check that the personal statement will help with your application.

The personal statement is usually an employer's first impression of who you are, so don't be shy – sell yourself. Keep it concise –three or four sentences will usually do – and avoid using statements copied from other sources. It should represent you.

Skills

If you're creating a skills-focused CV, listing your skills is essential. If you decide a work-focused CV better highlights your strengths, you might keep the skills section to a minimum, or incorporate comments about skills within your work history.

The skills you list should reflect the skills needed for the job.

Name your skill using the same words from the job advertisement. Put one or two examples of when you have demonstrated this skill. For example:

Confident and able communicator

Work history

List your most recent job or work experience first and work backwards. Your work history needs to include:

  • when you held the position
  • the job title/position
  • the name of the employer
  • where the job was located.

Beneath this, list the tasks you performed. You can also list any notable achievements.

If you have gaps in your work history, it is better to choose a skills-focused CV.

Work history in a skills-focused CV

If you have chosen a skills-focused CV, with a separate skills section, include just a few bullet points briefly stating what was required in the role. For example:

July 2015-August 2016
Counter assistant, Benny's Bakery, Auckland

  • customer service
  • replenishing stock
  • coffee-making
  • cash-handling.

Work history in a work-focused CV

If you have chosen a work-focused CV you might want to provide more detail. You can include an introductory sentence giving a brief description of the role, followed by more detailed bullet points outlining your responsibilities and achievements. For example:

January 2015-July 2016
Sale assistant, FonesRus, Wellington 

A customer-focused role, including stock-purchasing responsibilities, with an independent mobile phone retailer specialising in budget smartphones.

  • excellent customer service skills
  • keeping up to date with the latest in mobile phone technology
  • overseeing a major contract to supply mobile phones to a large nationwide media company
  • negotiating with Fujimatrix for FonesRus to be the official Wellington distributors of their products.

Education

It's important to include your education and qualifications in your CV. This information should be listed after your work history or skills, depending on the style of CV and what you want to emphasise.

If you have no formal qualifications, you can list the school/schools attended, and informal or on-the-job training.

Start with your most recent qualification, and work back, or start with the qualification most relevant to the job. Include the:

  • name of the course or qualification you completed
  • training institute you attended and the city it is located in
  • start and finish date of your training or study, or the year you graduated.

You can also include:

  • a brief description of the qualification and any projects, thesis or dissertation work involved. This is important if related to the job you are applying for or if it demonstrates important skills
  • the subjects you took and the grades you achieved, if you are a recent school leaver
  • professional development courses you have undertaken, including conferences and workshops, if you feel they add to your job application.

Achievements

Include an achievements section in your CV if you feel that you have important achievements that are not covered in the skills or work history sections.

You can include things such as:

  • awards
  • successfully completed projects
  • commendations
  • examples of how you helped a former employer meet their targets
  • important contributions to the community
  • personal achievements such as raising a family.

For each example, note what the achievement was, and when and where you achieved it.

Interests and hobbies

Keep this section to just a few sentences.

It's best to include interests that demonstrate skills or abilities that an employer may be looking for in an employee. For example, including coaching sports shows leadership qualities, and being involved in a kapa haka group shows you can work as part of a team.

Avoid noting generic or passive interests like reading, going out with friends or watching TV, unless there is something significant involved. For example, you read in several languages or read technical material related to the job. Otherwise, your interests add little to the picture you are creating for an employer.

It's OK to add some individuality, but keep in mind CVs are formal documents.

Referees

Referees provide an employer with further insight into your skills, work history and personality. A referee can be a former employer, coach, teacher, respected community leader, or any credible person who will support your job application. Family members and friends do not make the best referees, as employers may question their impartiality.

Referee contact details should include their:

  • first and last names
  • position
  • relationship to you (for example, high school teacher, former employer)
  • contact details (phone number and email address are usually enough).

It's important to contact each referee to let them know they are appearing on your CV and may be called on to supply a reference, and to check they are prepared to do so. Provide your referees with some context about the job you're going for – to give them some background information. Also provide them with a copy of the job advertisement and a copy of your CV for their reference. Remember that your referees are your allies in your job search and may be able to provide you with useful feedback on your CV.

If you do not want to add referees to your CV, include the line "Referees available on request" at the end of your CV. This does not mean you can do without them altogether – referees are important and it is likely employers will want to contact them.

Next steps once you've created your CV

1. Do a spell check

Save your CV as a Word document so you can make any additional formatting changes, and check your spelling.

2. Get someone to check your CV

Having someone else proofread your CV is important. It's easy to miss errors in a document you created yourself.

3. Write your cover letter 

You should always include a CV and cover letter as part of a job application.

4. Send your CV to potential employers

Stay motivated about searching for job vacancies and preparing for job interviews.

Updated 14 Feb 2017