Your CV is designed to be a summary of your experience, skills and education. No two CVs are ever the same and the structure can differ depending upon the type of CV you would like to create. For example, you could be writing a graduate CV, a CV for your first job, an industry based CV or a technical CV just to name a few. Each different CV will focus on a different section, however most standard ones will include the following five sections:
Name and contact information
This section is to make it easy for employers to get in touch with you if they would like more information or potentially invite you to an interview. You would usually need to include your residential address, main contact number and email address. It is often best to ensure that you have a standard email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you leave the best professional impression.
A personal statement
The personal statement on your CV is often one of the most important aspects for employers as it provides a chance for you to summarise your skills, qualities and goals. It is a small snapshot which often appears below your contact details to draw the recruiter in and show why you would be the best candidate for the job. A personal statement can take different forms, and most will be no more than 200 words. You can write a personal statement in the first or the third person depending upon if you would like to sound direct or you would prefer for your statement to avoid sounding like an opinion. An example of a traditional personal statement would be:
"A skilled worker specialising in managerial customer service and active listening skills developed through several years of experience in the retail industry. Focused team leader with the ability to implement service-wide changes, with an emphasis on continued innovation and creativity leading to increased employee and customer engagement. Now seeking an opportunity to progress within a corporate environment to build upon training skills and overall strategic vision."
To help you start your own personal statement you could think about compiling a list of descriptive words or phrases that you may wish to use when emphasising your personal qualities, skills and areas of expertise.
- Buzz words that employers like are: Approachable, Analytical, Caring, Challenging, Creative, Diplomatic, Experienced, Flexible, Helpful, Influential, Inspiring, Motivated, Organised, Professional.
- Skills employers like are: Effective listener, Good at motivating others, Training, Writing, Public Speaking, Completing Forms, Cooking, Innovative thinker.
Employment history and work experience
This section will often come immediately after your contact information and personal statement if you've been working for a few years. If you don't have much work experience, you may want to focus on your education and training first. You will need to include the name of the employer, the job role you worked in and the dates you started and finished the role. You can also provide a summary of your responsibilities, highlighting tasks that show your skills and strengths that are relevant to the job or industry you're applying to. If you find that you have a lot of previous employers, you can limit the space taken up by only adding detail to the relevant roles. For example, part time bar work while you were studying will not be relevant to applying for a job in your subject field. However, experience you have gained from other roles, including voluntary roles, should be explained. It is important to bear in mind that you should include all of your jobs, including voluntary work, as employers tend to be put off by gaps in employment, unless they are for education or are explained.
Qualifications and education
You will often want to order this section from your most recent qualifications working back towards the qualifications you may have gained in school such as your GCSEs. You should include the title and date you achieved the qualification. If you are currently studying don't forget to include any predicted grades you have been assigned. If you find that you have a lot of qualifications in various industries, you may want to think about only including the most relevant to the sector you will be applying to. You can also reduce the space taken up by your qualifications by shortening the explanation, for example instead of listing your GCSEs by subject, simply writing "5 GCSEs Grades A-C, including English, Maths and Science" is often enough information for employers.
Your referees are very important in the job seeking process and are usually the final section of your CV. Referees provide extra information that allows a potential employer to know about your work history, your skills and experience. This information reinforces what you have written on your CV by giving someone else's word that your claims are accurate. Most people will include two referees and it is important to gain their consent before listing them on your CV. The references you choose will depend on your individual circumstances, however it is a good idea to include a reference from your most recent employment or work experience. You can also consider educational references such as teachers/lecturers or character references (these should not be relatives). It is your personal choice as to whether you would like to include your references on your CV or if you would like to include a statement such as 'References available upon request' to try and save space.
Finally remember to keep your CV concise, try not to repeat any information and aim for no more than two sides of A4. Attempt to avoid spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar by using a spell check on a computer and asking a friend or family member to read through it for you. Employers will also scan your CV when they have many to look at, so you can make it easy for them by using key headings or bullet points where appropriate. If you are struggling with the layout of your CV you can think about using an online CV builder to help you with this.