How To Finesse Your CV To Get The Job You Really Want

Your CV's your calling card to that brand-new job. Here's how to perfect it so that employers will be tripping over themselves to hire you.


Never has a piece of paper been so important – well, not since that cute guy in third year passed us a note under the table. A good CV is the first port of call when impressing a potential employer, scoring an interview and hopefully getting a foot firmly through the door. It’s crucially important that you get it right and let your most awesome attributes, skills and experience do the talking.

But it’s haaaaard, isn’t it? Okay, let’s break it down and start at the beginning. “Read the job description from start to finish, twice,” instructs Paula Coogan, Careers Coach at My Quarter Life Coach. “Take note of everything that you can satisfy and highlight any areas in which you feel there’s a gap,” she says. Next. in order to smooth out any of those glaringly obvious spaces in your experience, “try filling in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have.”

The lesson to learn here is that even though you may be applying for a managerial role, yet you’ve no direct managerial experience, perhaps you’ve got something like-for-like you can include, based on one of your hobbies. Have you directed a play, lead a team in sports or had experience heading up groups at college? Put it down on paper.

Next up? Hammer home all the things you’re deadly at. “So often I work with people who’re seeking a new role and they look at their past job titles. You are not your job titles; you are your transferable skills,” Paula emphasises. “Transferrable skills are those skills that you’ve picked up in your current or previous roles that you can actually take away for use in future roles.” They’re things like social media marketing, customer service and Photoshop wizardry. The real trick, recommends Paula, is identifying which of those are of use in the job you’re going for, and making very sure you have them front and centre on your CV.

Pay close attention to how you describe your skills and experience too. You want these to jump off the page. “Use action verbs and ownership statements like ‘developed’, ‘organised’ and ‘achieved,” suggests Paula. Also vital? “Perform a full spelling and grammar health check.” In other words, print it, proof read it and proof read it again.

Now you’re ready to write. Paula recommends using the top of the page to include a personal profile that’ll give the employer a brief description of your experience and what you’re now looking for job-wise. Below that, offer a summary of your key skills. This area is what Paula calls the ‘CV Hotspot’. “The upper-middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall,” she explains, “so make sure to include your most important information there.”

Most importantly, make an the effort to tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for. “You don’t have to re-write the whole thing,” she says. “Just adapt your key skills and experience so that it’s relevant, and gives a consistent message. Yes, it will take time but it’ll be worth it.” That’s one job we know we’re glad to do.


What to put on it

  • Your contact deets, because um, how are they going to contact you otherwise? Be sure to pop your email, phone number and home address on there.A sentence summing up what you’re looking for career wise. Got big goals? Let ’em know what you’re after
  • A brief overview of where you’ve worked and the roles you kicked ass at.
  • Your A grades obvs. Start with your highest level of education first and work backwards. So if you’ve got a degree list it first and include your leaving cert after.
  • Your biggest achievements to date. If it’s relevant put it on there!
  • A sentence that says you’re happy to provide references upon request, y’know so they don’t think you’re sketchy.


What to leave out

  • Forgo a photograph. You want to be hired based on your ability to do the job. Not your contouring skills.
  • Don’t list your age, marital status or religious views because that ain’t nobody’s business.
  • Leave off your primary school prizes list cause we’re assuming you’ve done other things since age ten?
  • Skip any experience that isn’t relevant. Applying to work in an office? They’re probs not interested in that summer you served Coffee in Costa.

Pic credit: Matalan