CV Toolkit 101

Let’s face it - writing your CV isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have but it’s critical if you want to land a job or get a foot in the door with a company.

Your CV is an essential tool to have for job search, whether it is for a part-time or casual job or your first real adult job after uni.

It’s a targeted description of your skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities. The goal of a CV is to market yourself to gain an interview with a prospective employer. It’s important to promote your strengths – don’t be modest but don’t over-exaggerate either.


Successful CVs are accurate, clear, concise and easily navigated.


  • Contact Details (name, address, phone/mobile, email, LinkedIn link)
  • Skills summary (a list of your main selling points for the job)
  • Education (details of qualifications and other training)
  • Employment History (relevant tasks and achievements)
  • Verbal Referees (2 or 3 employers or academics who have agreed to do this)
  • International Students (a statement of your eligibility to work in NZ is advisable)

Optional: Career objective, Interests, Voluntary/Community involvement, Memberships, Publications (when applicable)

Photos: A photo can cause discrimination and distract from the information in the CV, although a photo can be justified with industries such as acting, modelling and some media roles. Employers can check your LinkedIn profile if they really want a visual. If you do include a photo, it must look professional and sit neatly on the page.

Creativity: If you’re applying for a creative role, you should be more creative with your CV. Often you will also need to include a portfolio or a link to it. Seek advice from your industry and lecturers.

Avoid: Avoid information that may be used to discriminate, e.g. age, health, marital status, nationality

Hot tip for content: Describe all relevant experience, paid or other (this provides evidence or proof of your skills) that is relevant to the position, career or employer.  Please note some employers or industries will have more specific requirements. Think of the skills you’ve developed, e.g. ‘trained to analyse….’ ‘developed software coding skills …..’.

Also highlight successes in roles, e.g. ‘completed project ahead of deadline…


Key words

It is important to include key words into your CV. Here is a way to work out what keywords to include.

  • Collect 5-10 job postings from the company and/or position you are looking for
  • Highlight the nouns and verbs that recur again and again
  • Make a list of 10 nouns and verbs in order of frequency of use and then weave those words into your CV, as long as you can genuinely back them up with skills and/or experience.

Word Choice

By using action verbs in your CV and cover letters you identify your transferable and specific skills, provide a clear description of your achievements and make your CV and application letter more professional and informative.

For example, instead of describing a job as: ‘worked in customer service and retail sales’, you could write:

  • Greeted customers, explained and demonstrated benefits of products
  • Contributed to meeting daily sales targets
  • Handled cash, EFTPOS and credit card payments
  • Don’t forget to include achievements * Received top salesperson award 4 times in 2 years.


  • 3 pages in length is typical for a student or graduate CV, certainly no more
  • Print on plain white A4 paper (high quality) that photocopies well
  • DON’T bind or permanently fasten into a folder
  • Choose standard layout and fonts (e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial)
  • Be consistent with fonts, styles and formatting
  • Headings should be eye catching; add emphasis with bullet points, bold and italics but don’t overdo it
  • Avoid too much detail, large blocks of text and overcrowding
  • Get an experienced person to check your spelling and grammar. Don’t rely on computer spellā€check.

Get your CV ready for our exciting Semester 2 schedule of employer events. We have 100+ employers visiting AUT looking for employees. Check out Employability Lab online for the latest events.


Dancing at a nightclub

Clubbing - but not the music kind

Whether it is ski-ing, tramping, setting up a social enterprise/ cultural group or creating a...
All all alone

Talk to others

Alberta is standing on one side of an event staring across the room at the...
Volunteers tree planting

Do something different in the holiday break

So exams are getting underway – maybe even over for some of you lucky ones....



Subscribe to new list