Knowing how to write a CV in Ireland is essential if you’re looking to find your dream role and climb the career ladder. However, many job seekers struggle when it comes to showcasing their skills and demonstrating their suitability for an advertised position. With the Irish job market more competitive than ever, having a winning CV at your disposal has never been more vital.
Here at H-Training, we’ve been leading the way in career services, learning and development, and strategic consultancy since 1989. If you’re planning your next career move, we can help advise you on everything from CV writing and application form development to coaching services should you be shortlisted for an interview. Eager to progress to the next stage of your career journey? Read on for our handy guide with all the essentials you need to know for creating a CV that stands out.
Are You the Right Person for the Job?
Before you start thinking about how to write a CV in Ireland, you must take a step back to determine whether you’re a good fit for the advertised position. If a job description doesn’t engage you, it’s unlikely the actual position will maintain your interest.
Once you have found a job description that appeals, consider what qualifications and experience are required. If you can only demonstrate half the requirements, you’re better off seeking an alternative.
It’s worth bearing in mind that recruitment is a largely digital process, especially during the shortlisting and pre-selection stage. As such, your CV must be optimised with relevant keywords. Be thorough when assessing job descriptions and look out for keywords that describe your qualifications, experience, and career achievements.
If there’s no correlation between what’s required and what you can offer, the position in question is likely not a good fit. Avoid overloading your CV and cover letter with keywords that aren’t reflective of your experience.
“Employers are mentally all over the place right now. They’re torn between acting the same way they did pre-pandemic and accommodating the paradigm shifts in thinking that the pandemic created.. For this reason, the demands on CV rigor are lighter than ever, but the demands on verifiable, factual aspects are stronger than ever. What really matters is this: Do you have the skills to do the job? Don’t babble your way around that. Hone in on what the employer wants. Focus on their needs. Read it again. Focus on THEIR needs, not yours. Now match yourself to it with what you’ve done thus far. If you’re inadequate in a certain area but you still feel you can do the job, find areas such as courses you’ve taken or internships you’ve done, and relate them to the job’s needs. Now go on LinkedIn and find the person who’s doing the hiring. Find a few more people in the company. What tone and language do they use? Does it suit your style? Do you want to work with these people? If so, incorporate some of that into the tone of your cover letter. As for your resume/CV, make it easy to scan. Limit it to two colours, use a standard font, and don’t get cute with subjective ratings and unverifiable hearsay. A job is a massive chunk of your life. Make sure it suits you and suits them.”Dr. Adam Goulston, CEO, IntResume
How to Write a CV in Ireland: Document Layout
As a general rule, a CV should be around two pages long. The aim here is to provide an effective introduction to you as a candidate and a succinct summary of your skills.
If you opt for a longer layout, there is a strong chance employers will overlook important information when assessing your suitability. You’ll also need to consider how you save your document. Most job listings will specify what file format to use. If they don’t, stick to a Microsoft Word document or PDF file format.
Including your full name in the filename of your CV will also increase its visibility and make it easier for hiring managers to retrieve it.
There’s a lot of conflicting information on this topic so I wouldn’t blame anyone for throwing their hands up in the air in frustration. One Google search for “Professional CV” will result in many different layouts, some that are very fancy while others that are more traditional.
However, over 90% of midsize and large companies use what are called Applicant Tracking Systems (aka ATS), which are essentially software that facilitates the recruiting process by letting employers collect, sort, and manage applicant data.
The problem with these systems is they require CVs to follow a certain format and avoid certain formatting for optimal compatibility. The best way to ensure your CV isn’t going to cause trouble with ATS:
Use a traditional single-column format made in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
Use standard names for section headers like ‘Work Experience’ and ‘Skills’. This is how ATS knows where to put the content under these sections and changing the name to something cute will result in the system miscategorising your data.
Avoiding unusual fonts, graphics, too many colours, or tables.
James Cooper, Co-Founder, Resume Writer
Choosing a Suitable Font
When choosing a font, go for something easy to read. Most people tend to stick with Times New Roman, although other serif fonts like Cambria and Garamond can also be effective. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re using the same font throughout your document.
Font size should also be consistent. The bulk of your document should be written in a size 12 font. Section headings can be written in the same size, but make sure they’re highlighted in bold or italicised. You can be more liberal when selecting a font size for your name. However, avoid going larger than size 16 to preserve space for more important information.
Essential Information to Include
Any good CV should include your latest contact information as standard. Use your full name and address, as well as an up-to-date contact number. Only include a secondary number if you’ll be around to answer it. A dedicated email address is also essential. It’s worth creating a new one for job-seeking purposes. Try creating one that includes your name and keep it as professional sounding as possible.
Some people choose to include a link to their social media accounts. Adding a link to a LinkedIn profile is certainly a good idea. However, be wary when including outbound links to other social media platforms.
If you’re pursuing opportunities in the creative or marketing industries and your social media channels reflect your experience in these areas, by all means, draw attention to them. However, never link to personal accounts.
It’s also worth conducting a social media audit before applying for any new jobs. Just because you haven’t signalled to them in your CV, doesn’t mean a recruiter won’t seek them out independently. The last thing you want is an ill-judged Tweet from years ago sending the wrong impression.
“Include keywords from the job description in your resume. If there are specific skills or qualifications mentioned in the job posting, make sure those words appear somewhere in your CV. The more closely your resume matches what the employer is looking for, the better your chances of getting an interview.”Kimberly Tyler-Smith, Executive, Resume Worded
Information You Don’t Need to Include
When thinking about how to write a CV in Ireland, there are some things you don’t have to worry about including. The Employment Equality Act ensures employers can’t discriminate based on age, so adding your date of birth isn’t necessary. There’s also no need to mention your current relationship status. Specifying nationality usually isn’t required. However, if you’re applying for a position outside of the EU, you’ll need to include it.
Start Strong with a Personal Statement
Once you’ve added your contact information, it’s time to focus on your profile. This opening statement introduces you to recruiters and establishes your suitability for the advertised role. Limit this statement to a few sentences, ensuring each one showcases your skills and suitability.
Being specific and on point is essential. Avoid stuffing this section with vagaries and buzzwords like ‘passionate’ and ‘enthusiastic’. Instead, focus on the specific experience that relates directly to the role you’re applying for.
Showcasing Key Skills
A key skills section is, without doubt, the most important aspect of any CV. These skills demonstrate your suitability for a position and give a recruiter an idea of what you can bring to an organisation.
Generally speaking, skills fall into three broad categories. Firstly, there are job-related skills. Be specific when listing them as these are skills recruiters will be actively looking for. Next, you need to think about transferable skills. If you’re moving up the career ladder or thinking about shifting industries, highlighting transferable skills is crucial. Finally, there are so-called adaptive skills. These can be hard to quantify but are useful for demonstrating your versatility to a prospective employer.
Career History and Experience
Boiling it down, think about your situation from the hiring manager’s point of view. He or she has to be pulled aside from their day-to-day at the end of the workday to review resumes and fill an open requisition. An open requisition that is either costing them money or not making them money by leaving it vacant. When they find an ideal candidate, sometimes it’s more of a cultural fit if they know they can train someone rather quickly. So trust that if it’s supposed to happen, it will. If not, keep looking for opportunities in this new space. Try to understand this when developing your resume – it must make it easy for the readers to understand your value so you aren’t lost after the initial 6-second eye test.Matthew Warzel, President, MJW Careers
The hiring process is selective for a reason — it’s time-consuming and costs a lot of money and resources from sourcing, recruiting, and interviewing to background checks, reference checks, drug tests, and finally training. A lot is involved so it’s crucial they get it right. That means, showing them you care about their time. And their money! Show them you offer this value that they can use in this open requisition. Why is it open? What pains do they have because it’s open? Once you can hone in on that, you can start to massage in key-value- and accomplishments-based content that makes your resume pop and motivates these decision-makers to invite you in for an interview.
Understanding how to outline your employment history is a key part of understanding how to write a CV in Ireland. For every position you include in your CV, ensure you put a name and location for every employer. You’ll also need to include start and finishing dates for each position listed.
Start by adding your most recent position and work backwards. If you’ve been working for many years, focus on the last 10-15 years of your employment history. This will save you wasting precious space detailing entry-level positions. Furthermore, it means you can showcase your current skill set.
If a previous position is particularly well-aligned with the one you’re currently pursuing, you can highlight your experience with that employer. Think about including a summary description of the employer to draw attention to it.
When it comes to detailing past responsibilities and duties, don’t be afraid to be specific. Did you work in a management role? Specify team sizes and direct report numbers. For every job listed in your CV, include a few key achievements and how your contributions benefited your employer. If you can be specific and quote figures, do so.
Unless explicitly asked for in a job listing, don’t worry about including references as part of your initial application. Simply specify that references are available upon request.
How to Write a CV in Ireland with Employment Gaps
Employment gaps occur and shouldn’t be a barrier to you securing your next role. Gaps in employment history can be explained in your cover letter. If there is a months-long gap between roles because you struggled to find a new position, you can be creative with your wording. Instead of saying you had issues finding a new role, redress it that you were seeking opportunities in a new industry sector.
If employment gaps are considerable, it’s tempting to play around with start and finishing dates. This should be avoided at all costs. Should you be shortlisted for an interview, employers are almost certain to uncover the discrepancy when carrying out reference checks.
Education and Qualifications
To save on space when creating a CV, you’ll need to be meticulous when including educational achievements. Younger job seekers may have little option but to include Leaving Certificate summaries. However, graduates will want to avoid going into much detail about these and focus on degree-level qualifications instead.
When listing educational information, start with your most recent qualifications. You can also include additional skills like language proficiency here. Be sure to include your fluency level as well.
Does Your CV Need an Overhaul?
Still, struggling to put together a first-rate CV? Here at H-Training, we can advise on how to write a CV in Ireland that will set you apart from rival candidates. In addition to providing career guidance for adults, H-Training offers a full raft of career and corporate services for job seekers and employers alike.
For corporate clients, H-Training can provide industry-leading insights into emotional intelligence assessment and sales training. For employers looking to streamline their shortlisting process, we also offer interview board training and corporate interview training.
Ciarán Hourican is an expert in preparing CVs for professionals at every step of their career. Candidates can also benefit from interview coaching and LinkedIn development services to bolster their chances of securing their next position in 2022.