When an employer is hiring for a new role, they often get many replies to a job advertisement; they might only spend 20-30 seconds scanning your CV. It’s important that your CV stands out from the crowd and inspires interest so the employer wants to know more about you.
Key points when writing a CV:
- Keep it short - 2 to 3 pages maximum
- Use headings and bullet points. Employers often skim read CV’s
- Be positive while remaining accurate and honest. Be prepared to back up anything in your CV with facts and references
- Check the spelling and grammar. Get it checked by someone else before sending
- Tailor your CV and cover letter to the job you are applying for.
Two CV styles
Think about which style of CV will best suit you and your personal circumstances. There are two main styles:
- Work-focused CV - This CV places your work history and the skills and work experience gained at the front of your CV. It’s generally best for people who’ve gained most of their skills while working.
- Skills-focused CV - This CV places the skills section in the front of your CV. It’s generally suitable for people who have recently finished studying or don’t have a long or relevant work history.
What should a CV include?
Provide your name, address, contact phone number and email address plus any other ways to contact you.
- Contact details are up to date. If an employer can’t get easily contact you, they may not go to the effort of trying to find correct details.
- Email address is professional - firstname.lastname@example.org might detract from the impression you want to give, while email@example.com is simple.
- Answerphone message is professional
- Check your contact details are up to date and correct.
This is your chance to showcase your skills, tell the employer why you are a great fit for the role and a chance to show your goals and how you plan to get there.
Typical information includes:
- Your current employment or education situation
- Why you want the job
- Your reason for wanting to change jobs
- Your career aspirations
Keep it relevant and specific to the role you’re applying for. A generic personal statement can turn employers off. Make sure you keep it short and punchy at 3-4 sentences.
How much emphasis you put on your skills will be governed by the style of CV you choose.
In a skills-focused CV you can show any transferable skills which are relevant to the role you’re applying for. These may be skills developed in other industries, training, education, or in your personal life.
It’s best to start with your current role and work backwards. If you have a gap in your work history, be prepared to explain it.
How much detail to include about your work history should be determined by your CV style. When creating a skills-focused CV, minimise your work history and focus on the skills you have learned.
Education and training
Start with your latest achievements and work backwards over time and remember to keep it relevant.
If you are a school leaver, are your year 10 NCEA results relevant to a farming role when you are 20? Probably not (unless that was your last year of school).
You might include other training completed:
- School or university or polytechnic courses
- Any Primary ITO courses
- DairyNZ training
- First Aid Certificate details
- Driver’s license details (car, motorbike, truck etc.)
Show that you have a life outside of farming. Include your key personal interests but don’t go overboard.
Employers often take your personal interests into account when considering your fit with their farm’s culture and the community.
References are a significant part of an employer’s assessment of you. It’s important you think carefully about who you include. Ideally your references will be people you’ve directly worked with in the recent past or someone you might know from your time in your role. You should avoid direct family.
Some might be:
- A colleague, your manager or other employee on the farm
- A rural professional you had a good relationship with, e.g. farm consultant, a technician, local vet
- A colleague or manager from a previous role
Remember: Check with your references to make sure they are happy to give you one and check you have their correct contact details.
Writing your CV
Quick CV checklist
Before sending your CV check:
1. Contact details
Are your contact details up to date?
2. Personal statement
Does it line up with the job you are applying for?
3. Concise work history
Is it up to date and relevant?
4. Concise education and training details
Is it up to date and relevant?
5. Additional skills
Are there any new ones you can add? Any you should take out?
6. Personal interests
Are these current?
Have you checked that your referees are happy to give you a reference for this current job?
It’s a good idea to include a cover letter along with your CV. The letter introduces you to an employer, tells them a bit more about you, why you want the job and how your skills and experience match what they are looking for. It’s important that your cover letter is professional because it’s often the first thing an employer sees and it’s an opportunity for your application to stand out.
If you want to make sure your cover letter is really good, review:
Is the tone right?
The tone of your cover letter should be professional. Remove any slang, technical language and jargon. Does the letter sound like it’s from someone who is honest, reliable and professional?
Is the letter targeted?
The letter should target a specific job or position. Is the letter relevant to the job? What skills and experience can you bring to the role?
Is the structure appropriate?
Cover letters are normally set out as a formal letter, addressed to the right person and structured in a certain way. To see an example cover letter and a template cover letter, visit careers.govt.nz.
Does it explain who you are?
A good cover letter should explain who you are, why you want the job and why the employer should pick you rather than other people. You can also explain anything that doesn’t fit in your CV, for example that you have just moved to the area.
Have you checked the letter?
Before sending the cover letter, reread it and check for spelling and grammar errors. The letter should not be longer than one page and it’s a good idea to have someone else check your letter for errors.
For more information on cover letters visit careers.govt.nz.