Stand out from the crowd – writing a great CV

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What is a CV?

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is a document that details your work and education history, as well as giving some personal information about you.

If you look for examples online, you’ll find plenty and you’ll soon realise that there’s no set way to do it! This guide will help you to write your own and make sure you don’t miss the important information, but you can stamp your own personality onto it too.

What information should you include when applying for childcare jobs?

1. Personal and contact details

It’s important to include personal details, so things like name, address and contact details. As far as contact details, you should certainly include email and phone numbers. You can include a professional social media account, like LinkedIn, but it’s not essential. You shouldn’t put a Facebook or Twitter account on there, unless they are ones you use for your career, but be aware that employers may look for them anyway! With this in mind, make sure your profile doesn’t have embarrassing photos or posts, or make it private so you can control who sees it.

You no longer need to include date of birth or age due to a change in age discrimination rules.

2. Personal statement

At the top of your CV, write a few sentences about yourself. This should focus on things you’re proud of in your career. Lots of people centre on characteristics like being punctual and working hard, but it’s important to back up these claims. A better way to say it could be, ‘I am hard-working and always arrive at work half an hour early to help my manager get ready for the day ahead’ (but only if it’s true!).

A personal statement can also talk of personal achievements that show commitment. These could be things like charity events (‘I ran the London marathon last year to raise money for The Parenta Trust’), sporting success (‘my netball team won the league’) or even education (‘I took a course and gained a qualification in safeguarding last year’).

A good personal statement will be a couple of paragraphs. Short and punchy is better than long and dull!

3. Career history

Write about previous jobs you have had and what your responsibilities were. It can be done as a paragraph, but lots of childcare employers find bullet points easier to read on CVs. You should write the dates that you worked there as well.

Remember to keep it short and concise. As a general rule, you should try to keep your CV to two A4 sides. Focus on achievements wherever possible, rather than just tasks, and where you’ve done things above and beyond your day-to-day duties.

Make sure you tailor your CV for the childcare job you’re applying for too. For example, if you’ve previously worked in a nursery and you’re applying for a job in another nursery, make sure you write about that role in more detail than a summer job in a supermarket you might have had.

If there are big gaps in your CV (periods of time where you didn’t have a job) explain the reasons for them. It might be redundancy, caring for children or relatives, or any number of other reasons. The important thing is to account for them and not let the recruiter speculate.

Not having had a job in childcare before isn’t necessarily a problem. Highlight things in your experience that show relevant qualities. Previous employment in a shop means you can talk about how you interacted with customers and show you are helpful and friendly. If you’ve been involved in clubs or school teams, use that to demonstrate your commitment and even leadership skills. You can use voluntary jobs and work experience to help your case.

4. Qualifications

Include a section for your qualifications. Exams you took at school, college or university should be here, as well as professional qualifications. Have you taken your Level 2 Childcare? Make sure you shout about it when applying for a nursery job!

And, as a general rule, put your most recent qualifications above the older ones.

5. Interests

More people are realising how important personality is in recruitment. Most people can pick up skills more readily than they can change their character! Show you have an interesting personal life and talk about your hobbies; one of your pastimes might fit perfectly with some of the staff at the setting and put you ahead of other candidates. This section should not exceed a short paragraph, unless your hobbies are particularly relevant to the job vacancy.  Be honest!

6. References

A referee is someone who can confirm that you are who you say you are, and that you have the qualities necessary to do the new job. Most companies will ask for a reference from a previous employer. This might be a nursery manager or, in larger organisations, an HR department. If you haven’t had a job before, it could be from your school or college, or a family friend that has known you for a long time.

If you are applying for a job while still working somewhere, you probably won’t want to risk your current employer being told you are looking elsewhere. If you’re worried, you can put ‘References available on request’. This is quite normal. You can then supply reference details if you are offered the job.

Most companies will want two referees and will contact them directly. It is not up to you to get the actual references, just details of the people who can give them.

How should you lay out your CV?

The order we’ve discussed in this article is quite standard, however, you can alter it as you wish. It’s particularly common for some people to list qualifications above career history. You could use boxes and columns to give it an extra dimension.

Use of colour can help your CV to stand out from others, but bear in mind that the person reading it may print it in black and white.

The most important thing is to keep it professional though. It’s better to keep it plain and simple than to distract people with bad design and too much colour. Again, look for examples online to get an idea of what is acceptable.

Be honest

While it’s important to tailor your CV for the job and put yourself in the best light possible, dishonesty is not acceptable. In fact, lying to get a job is considered fraud. It’s fairly likely you will be caught and it will be embarrassing when you do. It’ll also make it difficult for you to get a job in future, not to mention the legal repercussions of being found guilty of fraud. It’s not worth the risk!

Check it!

Once you’ve written your CV, don’t forget to go back and read it through. Does it make sense? Are there spelling mistakes? If you’re not confident with spelling and grammar, ask a friend or family member to help.

Look back at the job that you are applying for. Does your CV answer the requirements as best it can? If you can’t match the experience on your CV to the job, an employer won’t be able to either.

With a polished and prepared CV, you’re now ready to look for a job in childcare!

 

 

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