JOB BLOG // Writing your CV
So you’ve found a job you like and you’ve decided you want to apply for it. Great! But what the heck do you write in your CV? You have all this great experience, but how do you put it all together? What do you include and what do you leave out? How is it supposed to look?
Applying for any job is hard. Applying for a job in the media you really want and you have experience for is even harder. Depending on the job you’re applying for, there will probably be a hundred or more similarly qualified people as you applying for it and it can be hard to set yourself apart from the rest. However, having a solid CV is a good start.
Note: The following example is of a radio journalism job and therefore the advice is tailored to this position. This is one example of how you can write a CV. It is not the only way.
The following job was advertised online at a commercial media organisation:
This is one example of a CV you might submit as an application:
Notice the difference between that CV, and this one. The mistakes made in this CV are very common and therefore can be very easily avoided if you know what to look out for:
- How long should it be?
Some job ads will tell you how long (or short) they want it to be. If there is no word or page limit stated, try and keep your CV to 2-3 pages. Keep in mind that the person reading your application will probably be reading hundreds of others. Therefore, it’s important to keep it short and concise. Include only the necessary information and don’t write something for the sake of it. Go for quality over quantity.
- Who do I address it to? Is it okay to say ‘to whom it may concern’?
If the job application doesn’t explicitly state who to address your application to, try your best to find out. Your application will be read by a person, not a robot, and they will have a name. The least you can do is to find it out. The person reading your application will be reading hundreds of others and presumably you’ll be up against stiff competition, so the person reading it will be looking for anything to distinguish between applicants. If you address it to “to whom it may concern,” it says you don’t know or care who it concerns. If you can’t find a name to address it to, call the organisation and ask. Say you’re applying for a job and you want to know who to address it to. Your application will be stronger if you make the effort to find out.
- What do I include in a CV and what should I leave out? Do I list every job I’ve ever had?
You only have a limited amount of space on your CV and therefore you should only list experience that is relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an on air position at a radio station, working casually at Boost Juice two years ago probably isn’t that relevant. However if you’ve worked at Boost Juice for three years and you’ve moved into a managerial position, this demonstrates a higher level of commitment and skill and therefore would be worth listing (just not in great detail), even though it’s not directly related to journalism.
- Who should I get as a reference?
Choosing a good reference or referee is important. They’re the people who will tell your new (potential) employer what you’re like as a worker and how capable you are of doing the job you’re applying for. Make sure the person you ask to be your reference knows enough about you and your work ethic to be able to answer questions about you and do so favourably. Always ask people if they agree to be your reference before listing them and make sure they are aware they may be called. They will be able to give you a better reference if they’re aware it may be coming and they can prepare for it.
- Key points:
- Take it seriously (even if the organisation you’re applying for is relaxed)
- Be professional
- Proofread, proofread, proofread
- Get a friend to read over it
- Rewrite your CV for every job you apply for. While you can definitely take sections, remember that for each job the things you want to highlight may be slightly different. The person reading your application will know if you’ve copy and pasted it, or written it new