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Curriculum Vitae: Tips to Keeping an Up-to-date CV

written by: Gillian Hendrie•edited by: Beth Taylor•updated: 9/7/2012

How current is your curriculum vitae? Looking for a new job can get off to a flying start if you keep it constantly updated. These tips will help you to include pertinent information and sift out what is irrelevant.

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    The Essentials

    Are all your personal details correct? Changes of cellphone numbers are easily forgotten. Include the complete dialling code (with the international code, if appropriate) for both landlines and mobile numbers.

    Do you need to make changes to your referees? Try not to let these get too old. You should try to have the details of two people from your current workplace, including your immediate line manager, and a third from a previous job. Check email addresses and telephone/fax numbers, especially those from previous places of work. Perhaps your old boss has retired, moved elsewhere, or been promoted. Inaccurate information discovered by a potential employer sends signals of sloppiness and unprofessionalism. Don't get caught out!

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    What's New?

    Any time you begin or finish a professional course, add it to your résumé. In this way, you can be sure of listing dates accurately.

    Have you taken on more responsibility in your job? Write it down, again with dates. Equally, however, any position which has come to an end should be shown as such.

    New hobbies? If appropriate, add these too. Potential employers like to see that you have a balanced life and that you make good use of your leisure time. Weed out the stuff you used to do but really don't any more. You don't need to have a huge list of interests, just genuine ones.

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    The Long and the Short of it

    It is a good plan to have a short version (no more than two pages) and a longer version of your CV. Most employers want to see the shorter version, and you can understand why: with a large amount of applicants, they want a quick idea of who you are and what you can offer so they can decide who to interview. The longer version can be brought to the interview and made available if requested.

    In the short version include:

    • your full name, postal address, telephone number and email address*
    • details of your current or most recent employment with a list of your "duties"
    • previous relevant employment
    • relevant qualifications
    • relevant experience and training
    • relevant and transferable skills
    • other interests (but be brief!)
    • full contact details of three referees.

    *You may also include marital status, date of birth, and nationality. In fact, these may be required for certain international posts.

    You should have room left for some further information pertinent to you or to the type of job you're applying for, e.g. languages spoken and IT skills.

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    And There's More...

    In the longer version, go into more detail about previous jobs you've held: dates, employer and/or name of school, position and duties performed. Emphasise any initatives you had while in that post. Which curriculum was being followed at each school? You will be able to decide for yourself whether or not to include non-educational employment: if your "longer" CV seems a bit short, it could be worth choosing one or two at least, but be selective. If necessary, create a third, "longest" version and edit later. Voluntary work should almost always be included.

    Some employers still ask for high school qualifications so it is a good idea to have these on your longer CV: establishment, course, result and date of each. Details from your college or university transcripts should be added.

    Don't forget all that Professional Development you found useful a few years ago, as well as courses you have done in the past that you may not see as directly relevant now. Clubs you have known and loved go here too. What about cross-curricular work? Have you been involved in other school initiatives such as International Day, Maths Week (whether that's your subject or not), camps, school trips (domestic or foreign; educational or fun)?

    Activities you've been involved with in the wider community show concern for others, and that you're a social creature (at least sometimes!).

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    Do It

    Now you've decided what to write, write it! Don't waste time looking at different styles just yet. Get it typed up and see how long it is. Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial, about 11-point. Using a large font suggests that you don't have much to say for yourself and you're struggling to fill up pages; using too small a font just makes it difficult to read and means you're squeezing in too much information at this point.

    Only once you've got the short version to a manageable size (two pages) should you think about style and layout.

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    Style

    "Keep it simple" is the basic rule of thumb. You want your CV to stand out, but don't make it gimmicky. Stick with black type on white or off-white paper. As mentioned above, use a standard, easy-to-read font in 11- or 12-point. Each section should be clearly headed so that potential employers can quickly find the information they're looking for. It's possible to add a little bit of colour in bullet points or underlining, it you really can't do without it!

    The following website shows various styles as a guide: http://www.cvtips.com/CV_example.html. Some are templates; others are completed sample CVs. Although the layouts and headings were not designed with teachers in mind, the samples let you see the effect of borders, different fonts, underlining etc. Try combining aspects of two or more versions. You can also try two-column pages or sections.

    Your longer CV need not be of the same style as your shorter version. For variety you could, for example, use tables for your school qualifications and/or employment history.

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    Upon Application

    Before sending off your CV, try to see it from the point of view of the employer, as it arrives on their desk or in their inbox. What exactly is the position on offer, what experience is required, and which particular skills are they hoping to find? Make sure you have highlighted this information: you may have to rearrange sections to "customise" your CV to each position you apply for.

    These are also the points you should be emphasising on your cover letter, to draw attention to your wealth of experience, your comittment and enthusiasm. Don't make the cover letter too long, however: remember that this is to get you that first interview. Keep details brief - you can expand upon them face-to-face, if it is an area of interest to the employer.

    Happy hunting!