FAQ Skills and References

  • What is a CV?
    A CV is your chance to ‘sell’ yourself to an employer.  It is an advertisement for your skills and experience. It is usually a typed document and includes information about your qualifications, skills and strengths.
  • Who should I use as my references?
    Choose your referees carefully. You will usually be asked for two referees. If possible use your employer or someone you have worked for recently. The other referee could be another employer.  A good choice would be someone like a teacher, support worker, coach or someone else in a responsible position. You should not use a family member or relative.
  • What should I do if I can’t use my most recent employer?
    Possible Solution 1:
    Are you still in touch with managers who used to work for the company? If yes, then you can ask them if they would supply you with a personal reference.

    Possible Solution 2:
    If you are not in touch with anyone from your most recent employer, think about using someone from a previous job. You must remember to get in touch and ask for permission.

    Possible Solution 3:
    What else are you involved in? Do you do voluntary work or are you a member of a sports team or club? It may be possible to get a reference from one of these places, for example a coach or someone who works for the charity.  Do you help in your children’s school or playgroup – maybe helping with fundraising or taking the children on trips? Perhaps one of the leaders or teachers would be prepared to give you a reference?
  • I left my previous employment on bad terms so should I put this job on my CV?
    There is no easy answer to this question. If you were in the job for quite a long time it would be best to include it on your CV. Normally, you would put your most recent employment first on your CV. If you are changing direction and have done jobs in the past that are relevant, you could list them first. Use a heading such as ‘Relevant employment’ and list those jobs first. Next, put a heading saying ‘Recent employment’ and list your most recent jobs lower on the page.
  • Should I include the contact details of my referees?
    It is not necessary to put the contact details of references/referees on your CV. It is fine to put ‘References available on request’ at the bottom of your CV. However, if you want to include the names and details of your referees, it is also OK to do so. You must ask anyone you use as a referee for permission before including them in a CV.
  • Should I include my hobbies and interests?
    It’s your choice. They are well worth including if they show you have skills relevant to the job. For example, if you were applying for a job in a garage and also have an interest in car and motor bike repair. You could say what kind of cars or bikes you can repair and what work you do on them. Another example would be playing or coaching a team sport. You could give examples of using communication skills, team work and motivating others.
  • Many job advertisements ask for a covering letter with a CV. How do I write a covering letter?
    You do need to provide a covering letter/e-mail with your CV.  The employer needs to know which job you are applying for. You must include this in your covering letter.
  • Everyone I talk to has a different idea on how my CV should be set out, and what should be in it. Is there a right way and a wrong way? 
    There is no right way and wrong way to write a CV. Many employers will spend 20 seconds scanning your CV.  Try applying the 20 second rule to your own CV. Look down your CV and see what stands out to you in that 20 seconds.
    You need the following things to stand out -
     • Job titles
     • Your skills
     • Any training you have done
    Employers will not spend much time looking for the information they need. Your CV needs to be clearly laid out using headings and bullet points.
  • I have loads of skills but no formal qualifications so how can I put this on to a CV?
    Consider using a Functional CV format which highlights your skills (see template no 3)
  • Should I put my education first or my employment first?
  • Have you recently left school, training, college or university? We suggest that you put your education first followed by your employment or work experience. 
  • If you have worked then it would be usual to put your employment first, with the most recent job at the top.
  • I have been out of work for a long time raising my children or being a carer so I don’t feel that I have anything to put in my CV. What should I do?
  • Have you helped out at your childrens’ school? For example, with school plays or fundraising on behalf of the school, helping in the classroom or playgroup, or on any committees?
  • Have you done any short courses, longer courses or training in that time?
  • What skills do you use to manage your household? Here are some examples of skills you might be using -
     • Organising  - by getting the children to school and activities on time
     • Financial  - by managing the household’s budget
     • Practical – by doing odd jobs around the house or for neighbours
     • Caring – by looking after a family member or friend
    All these things count on your CV!
  • Does a CV always need to be only one page?
    A CV should be no longer than two sides of  A4 (normal photocopying sized paper). How much of those two sides you fill depends on how much you have done. The more experience you have – the more you will be able to include. People leaving education may find it hard to fill two sides because they may not have very much experience. If this is the case one side of A4 is fine.
  • What sort of paper should I print it on?
    The best quality that you can get your hands on. The employer may want to photocopy your CV so try not to use paper that is too thick. You should use white or cream paper.
  • Do I need more than one CV?
    You will probably change your CV for each job you apply for. So – create a core or basic CV. You can then adjust your CV to suit each job applied for.
  • My friend has a nicely written personal profile that I like and she's given me permission to use it. Can I just use it?
    Preferably - no. It is not wise to just copy your friend's personal profile. No two personal CV profiles should be the same since no two people are the same. It also will definitely not look good if you're applying for a job at the same company!
  • What kind of writing style should l use?
    It should be concise and easy to read.
  • Doesn't everyone stretch the truth a bit on their CV?
    Selling yourself involves putting yourself in the best light. But – there is a difference between doing this and making things up on your CV. Never lie about qualification or jobs you have had. If you get an interview you could well be asked to say more about them.


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