Tips and Advice

Preparing a CV

The aim of your CV is to get an interview with an employer. Therefore, your CV should give a clear summary of your education, work experience, achievements and abilities.

Personal details


  • Name
  • Contact details: Address, telephone/mobile number, email address

Work experience

Start with your most recent job and work back.


  • Date you started and completed this work
  • Job title
  • Employer’s name and address
  • Your responsibilities and duties

Education and training

Start with your most recent course and work back.



  • Date you started and completed the course
  • Level (award) you achieved



  • Date
  • Course title
  • Course provider
  • Certification achieved

Work skills

List any skills or knowledge that you did not include under education and training.


  • Languages
  • Computer skills
  • Driving licence

Hobbies and interests


  • Responsibilities, for example, captain of local hurling team
  • Achievements, for example, winner of 10K road race


It is acceptable to say:

  • References available on request


CV checklist

The CV should:

  • have a clear layout,
  • be 1 to 2 A4 pages in length only,
  • contain no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors
  • use bold print to highlight headings, qualifications, names of employers and positions held,
  • use the same font and size throughout. For example, this page uses the Arial font with the main text in 12 point size and the headings in 14 point.

Why should I include a personal profile?

It tells the interviewer at a glance what you have to offer and what type of position you are interested in. A personal profile is a short paragraph that goes near the top of your CV. If you are applying for different jobs, you should adapt your personal profile and CV to suit each job.

What if there are gaps in my employment history?

If there are gaps in your employment history, try to give positive details about how you used your time during the gaps. For example, you may have taken a year out to travel, worked as a volunteer on a particular project, returned to college to study and so on. It’s best if you can give good reasons for the gaps rather than leave questions for the reader.

Tips on writing a covering letter

When you send a CV to apply for an advertised position, you should always send a cover letter with it.

  • Address the cover letter to a named person in the company.
  • Name the position you are applying for and say that you have enclosed your CV.
  • Use a font such as Arial that is easy to read.
  • Keep the cover letter to one page if possible but definitely no longer than two pages.
  • Sign the letter if you are posting it or include a digital signature if you are sending it by email.

When sending your CV to a company ‘on spec’ (that is, when there is no job advertised):

  • Address the letter to the relevant department or section in the company.
  • Name the position you are interested in.
  • Focus the letter on the potential employer’s needs.
  • Say when you are available for an interview.
  • Use a font such as Arial which is easy to read.
  • Make sure there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors in the letter.
  • Sign the letter if you are posting it or include a digital signature if you are sending it by email.

Tips on how to prepare for a job interview

Before the interview

  • Be clear about why you want the job. Make sure you understand what the job involves and what the company does.
  • Know your CV inside out. It creates a bad impression if you’re not able to talk about your qualifications, interests and experience.
  • Have a list of answers to possible questions ready. Try to anticipate what you will be asked and practise answering questions out loud.
  • Some interviews are based on the competencies (skills) needed to do the job.  These are usually outlined in the job description. When preparing for competency-based interviews, base examples of your skills on the indicators outlined under each competency.
  • Presentation is very important. You should dress suitably for the interview.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early.
  • Take all interviews seriously no matter how informal they may seem.

At the interview

  • Make eye contact with the interviewer and greet them politely.
  • Be honest about why you want the job or have left a previous job. If you are leaving an old job, be positive about the reasons for your decision.
  • Acknowledge your weaknesses but present them as strengths or opportunities to develop.
  • Expect the unexpected such as awkward questions or a sudden request to demonstrate a skill.
  • Be positive, be confident and smile. 

How to complete an application form

  • Read through the whole form and the instructions before filling in any sections.
  • Photocopy, or write the questions on rough paper and answer them before you fill in the form.
  • Follow any instructions as to how the form should be completed. For example, some forms ask you to use black ink or block capitals only
  • Answer all parts of every question. If the question does not apply to you then mark it ‘not applicable’ or ‘N/A’.
  • Keep a copy of the completed application form to read over before your interview.
  • Make sure you use the correct address, or email address, to send the application form to.
  • Check spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Questions you might be asked at interview

  • Can you talk us through your CV?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Why do wish to leave your current position?
  • What were you doing in your last job?
  • What did you like or dislike about your last job?
  • What have you been doing since your last job?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you describe a difficult situation at work and how you overcame it?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment?