Professional advice and tips for students and graduates compiling CVs for jobs.

NCI Students working together at laptop

Designing your CV

A CV is a summary of your education, experience, skills and interests inside and outside of your academic experience. The CVs are used by many companies as an essential tool to shortlist candidates for an interview. Your CV is your own personal advert and it must capture the employers’ imagination and give them a picture of you and how you suit the role for which they are recruiting.  

With this in mind, the Careers & Opportunities team have produced Securing a Graduate Role – Your CV, Cover letter and Interview Guide, which provides guidelines on writing your CV as well as presents CV templates focusing on strong presentation and content of a CV. The guide is free to download and is also available to collect from the Career Service.

The NCI Careers & Opportunities team provides support in reviewing and providing feedback on your CV. Students can avail of one-to-one meeting with a dedicated Careers Advisor and/or attend a CV Clinic run in the NCI Atrium twice a week throughout term.

According to research, it takes about 6 seconds for employers to decide if they would like to proceed with your CV. You need to make a positive impression and have your CV land in the yes pile! 

Top Tips

Presentation

  • Presentation is key. We recommend using black text – Arial, Tahoma, Lucida Sans with size ranging from 9.5 to 10. Avoid using borders, tables, pictures and fancy formatting which includes various font styles and colours. Maintain consistency throughout your CV.
  • Bullet points are easier to read than large paragraphs of text therefore increasing your chances of getting selected for interview. 
  • Keep your CV to 2 pages, remember, that the time spent on a CV is 6 seconds, therefore, they definitely won’t read 4 pages.
  • There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors – ensure your CV has been checked and double checked for accuracy. Consider your CV being the very first task/project reviewed by your potential employer and you definitely want to make a positive impression!

Content

  • Ensure you list all your experiences on your CV, this may include education, work experience, volunteering, involvement in college (societies, student representative) and interests.
  • Employers want to hear about your academic, work and extracurricular achievements. Emphasise your achievements and avoid simply listing your day-to-day activities at work. This will help to make a positive impression on employers.
  • Use action verbs at the beginning of a bullet point to create powerful accomplishment statements. Avoid using “overused” qualities listed on a CV such as hard working, motivated, dedicated etc.
  • Quantify your results using numbers, percentages, and euro signs. Avoid using adverbs ('effectively' or 'significantly'). Numbers speak louder than adjectives.

Tailoring

  • It is not recommended sending a generic CV to every job you apply for. Targeting your CV to the job spec is critical. No two jobs are the same and no two CVs should be identical either. Ensure you list required skills and experience and provide practical examples to support your statements.
  • Prioritise relevant information. Considering your CV is 2 pages long, you want to ensure that relevant skills, experience and education appear on 1st page of your CV. This approach will help you define the order of sections on a CV.

CV templates and resources

You can view and download additional resources and CV templates for your personal development. 

Video guides

CV tips and advice, NCI Career Office  - 7.39 minutes 

Guidewire and AOL describe what they want to see on a technical CV – 1.22 minutes

Tips for effective graduate CVs Hedgeserv, Engineers Ireland, Jameson, Musgrave, CPL, Citi - 2.11 minutes