When it comes to applying for jobs a well written CV could often mean the difference between an interview or a rejection. You may need to tailor your CV depending on the job to show why your skills make you suitable for that specific position, but all will follow a similar structure.
This guide will show you how to write a good CV for your next application. Take it from us, we are CV experts!
What to include in your CV?
While the structure of a CV is flexible, bending to your unique skill set and experiences, there are particular sections that employers expect to see on your CV:
Name, professional title and contact details
The first part of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should contain your name, professional title and contact details. You should avoid using ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘CV’ as the title, it’s a waste of valuable space. Treat your name as the title instead.
When it comes to your contact details, your email address and phone number(s) are essential. Once upon a time, it was customary to include your full address on your CV. Today, you simply need to list your town and county.
If you like, you can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section – ensure it’s up to date!
A personal profile, also known as a personal statement, career objective and professional profile, is one of the most important aspects of your CV. It’s a short paragraph that sits underneath your name and contact details giving prospective employers an overview of who you are and what you’re all about.
You should tailor your profile to the job you are applying for, highlighting specific qualities that match you to the role. Aim to keep your personal statement no longer than a few sentences. To make the most of this section, you should try to answer the following:
Who are you?
What can you offer the company?
What are your career goals?
Experience and employment history
Your employment history section gives you a chance to outline your previous jobs, internships and work experience.
List your experience in reverse chronological order as your recent role is the most relevant to the employer.
When listing each position of employment, state your job title, the employer, the dates you worked and a line that summarises the role. Then bullet point your key responsibilities, skills and achievements, and bolster each point with powerful verbs and figures to support each claim and showcase your impact.
It helps to choose the duties most relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it’s a long list. If you have many years’ worth of experience, you can reduce the detail of old or irrelevant roles.
Education and qualifications
Like your experience section, your education should be listed in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institutions and the dates you were there, followed by the qualifications and grades you achieved.
If you have recently left education, write your degree, A-levels or GCSEs (or equivalents) like so:
Institution name – Dates attended (from – to)
Qualification/subject – Grade
For professionals that are a little further along in their careers, you can lay your qualifications out in this way:
Qualification, grade – Institution – Year
Key skills: If you’re writing a functional CV, or have some abilities you want to show off to the employer immediately, insert a key skills section underneath your personal profile. You should aim to detail four to five abilities at most.
Hobbies and interests: If you feel that your CV is lacking, you can boost your document by inserting a hobbies and interests section at the end. This can help to show how well you fit into the company or the industry.
Formatting and spacing guidelines
Length: The standard length of a CV in the UK is one to two pages. On average an employer will only look at your CV for 7-10 seconds so it is important to keep to this minimum.
Headings: Each section must be introduced by a bold heading to ensure an easy read.
Font type: Most employers will receive your CV in a digital format, so choose a clear font like Calibri or Arial.
Font size and page margins: The body of your CV should be between 10 and 12 point font, and your headings between 14 and 18 points. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, but never reduce them to less than 1.27cm or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.
Proofreading and consistency: Your formatting must be consistent throughout your CV to keep it looking professional. Don’t put your employer off by including typos and inaccuracies; proofread your CV to ensure there are no mistakes.
Great! Now you're ready to begin applying for jobs with a well written CV! To find your next job click here.
For career advice or to speak with one of our expert consultants call 028 9033 0250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.