CV Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CV?

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) provides an employer with a summary of your education and experience. CVs are often requested in job adverts. Employers use CVs (or application forms or letters of application) to decide who they will interview.

Many childcare settings that have vacancies, or those that you wish to contact with a speculative letter, will be interested in seeing your CV.

If a CV is requested, always follow the instructions in the job advert and send in what is requested. A CV can also be sent when a job has not been advertised (speculative CV). If a nursery requests a CV always send a covering letter with it.

A general, all purpose, CV is one that can be copied and sent for every job application. You will need one all-purpose CV for each type of work for which you are intending to apply. A general CV can be amended to make it more job specific (targeted).

What do you include in a CV?

Your CV is a personal marketing tool. It gives you the chance to sell yourself to potential employers. Use it to emphasise your strong points. Your aim is to get an interview. CVs can include details about personal qualities, skills and achievements, education and work experience. Keep your CV up to date.

Before starting your CV

You need to collect a range of information to compose your CV. Think about all the factual information you'll need and write it down with dates, grades of qualifications etc. Use your record of achievement, if you have one, as a source of information.

It is important to remember that whoever you are, whatever your age and whatever your work experience (even if you have none) you will be able to construct a positive CV. You have to remember to consider all the things you do and have done like voluntary/community work, part-time jobs, hobbies, sports, school activities, helping people and things you do at home.

When there is a job advertisement read it very carefully and list the requirements - job title, experience, skills, qualifications etc. Then, and especially for speculative applications, research as much information as possible about the childcare setting. Decide which requirements you think are the most important for the job as far as the employer is concerned, then list your best examples of how you meet the requirements in your CV.


There is no set order for the headings in your CV, but your name should be given at the top. Other personal details can go either with the name or at the end. If you feel that personal details such as age may be off putting to the employer, you may prefer not to show this on the CV.

Decide on the headings that present your positive points in the best way. Although many CVs begin with education, qualifications, employment etc., you might feel that your skills, abilities and achievements gained through other life experiences are more important. This is true also for those who have no employment or work experience. CVs that emphasise skills, abilities and achievements are often called functional CVs.

- Personal details: Name, address, telephone number (including day contact number), date of birth.

- Education: Dates (year), names of schools, colleges and so on.

- Qualifications: Dates (year), examinations, subjects and grades.

- Work Experience (or Work History): Start with your most recent or present job. Give the dates (year or month and year) of employment, name of firm and address if relevant. For example: 2008 - present ABC Creche Ltd., Cork. Give a brief account of your responsibilities. Do not forget to include details of holiday jobs, temporary and voluntary work.

- Achievements: Information about specific achievements. These might be work related, personal, such as getting awards for voluntary work and winning prizes, or non-academic qualifications like first aid or sport.

- Interests and Hobbies: Give examples of your interests and hobbies particularly those which demonstrate interests, skills or personal characteristics that support your application.

- Additional Information: Provide any other information you think will support your application, such as special knowledge or an ability to speak another language. Membership of any organisations to which you belong could also be included here.

- References: Referees are usually teachers and/or employers. You can use ministers of religion, youth leaders or someone who knows you well. It is not essential to list referees at this stage and may not be appropriate. For example, if you want to use one CV to apply for different types of jobs, add a note under the heading referees that names can be provided if requested. If you do provide the names of referees, ask them first!


Presentation is important. All the untidy or tatty CVs, the ones with poor hand writing, crossings out or correction fluid will probably be thrown out. If you have access to word processing facilities, use them. A CV should be clear, concise and easy to read.

- Write out your CV/letters in draft and decide exactly what you want to say. Use active words on CVs to give details of your experience, responsibilities etc.

- Along with CVs, send a covering letter in which you highlight your special strengths and experiences for that particular job.

- If you have access to word processing facilities, you can easily make your CVs job specific. To do this, you compile your basic CV then rearrange the contents and emphasise different elements according to the job for which you are applying. Your covering letter can draw attention to the relevant parts of the CV.

- Do not write anything negative in your letter or CV or give explanations, like the reason why you did not complete your work experience. If there is anything to discuss leave it for the interview.

- Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. If you find mistakes, do it again.

- Keep a CV to one A4 page. Two is the maximum length.

- Get your CV checked by someone for content, spelling and grammar.