Catherine Warren, Telecoms Director and Work It Out CV volunteer, shares some advice on how to structure and write a CV.
Writing a CV can feel a bit intimidating. There’s a lot of information out there and it can feel hard to know where to even start. But the good news is that CV writing is a just a writing skill, and one that gets better with practice.
The most effective CVs are
- Relevant (to a role, industry, company)
- Specific (give evidence, clear information)
- Concise (key information presented clearly)
When you’re ready to begin, follow the steps below to add all the information you need on a CV.
This goes right at the top and should include
- Full name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Optional: LinkedIn
This is often the hardest to write, so it helps to stick to a simple format. It doesn’t need to be long ; 2 or 3 sentences is fine. It’s also a useful place to customise your CV for specific roles, so make sure to include specific details from the job description.
Here’s a simple structure:
Sentence 1: Describe yourself. If you’ve done the job you’re applying for, give yourself that title. Or you might call yourself an experienced childcare professional, graduate, or a more general title that covers what you’ve done.
Sentence 2: Talk about one or two of your strongest skills or areas of experience that are needed in the role. What have you achieved that an employer will really value?
Sentence 3: Write about why you are looking for this specific role. How will you help a prospective employer?
This is a list of your relevant work experience, with the most recent first. It can include relevant voluntary experience.
An employer will look for
- Job title
- Name of organisation
- Dates that you held this position (for example, June 2018 – April 2020)
- Key responsibilities and achievements
Tip: use bullet points to list your key responsibilities and achievements.
This is optional, but particularly if you’re just starting out in work, or are making a big change, it’s helpful to highlight your strongest skills. In these circumstances, it’s good to include specific examples of achievements that demonstrate these skills.
For roles where technical skills are required, this is where to list them, along with your level of expertise.
Tip: make sure you have examples to back up each skill you mention.
This is a list of your education and certifications or qualifications. List these with the most recent first and include
- Institution (for example, the name of your school or college)
- Certification or qualification name
- Grade (if any)
- What year you gained the award or qualification or years of attendance
Tip: if you have more education than employment experience, then it’s normal to put this just under your personal statement.
Hobbies and interests
Ideally, this features hobbies and interests that are relevant to a role you’re applying for. For example, you might include a link to your blog if you’re applying for a job that requires good writing skills.
That said, if you have a distinctive or interesting hobby, and you’re applying for roles which require a bit of creativity then this is a nice place to show a little personality.
The above information is general advice that covers the building blocks of a good CV. But depending on your circumstances you might need to tweak things a little.
Not all CVs follow the same structure. Different formats and templates work better for different circumstances. These include graduates, school leavers, career changers and people returning to work, as well as specific styles for different industries.
There are loads of great templates available online, often tailored to these requirements. Make sure to spend some time searching and reading these.
Writing a CV is a process. It takes time and reworking to find your voice and pinpoint what makes you stand out. Take it in chunks and keep in mind the points above.
Once you’ve put something together, remember Work It Out offers FREE job application, CV and cover letter feedback from HR experts. All you need to do is fill in the sign up form!