A CV is a document that people use when applying for a position and typically, it is the first thing a prospective employer will read about you; therefore it is the first impression they will have about you.
A CV allows you to summarise your skills, achievements, experience, education, hobbies and interests.
Normally a CV will be created and shared with potential employers that you seek work with, however, there are other uses:
The most relevant time to update your CV is when you have decided to look for a new job, or perhaps you are returning to the workplace after a period away.
Other appropriate times to refresh your CV is when you hope to gain promotion, or when you achieve something significant at work; a good example is completing a specific project.
It is good practice to update your CV at least once a year.
CVs typically adhere to the following structure and include:
Start with personal information; this should include:
You do not need to include your address, however, do share the town or city in which you live.
For many jobs, it may help if you include how far you are prepared to travel, or whether you are willing to relocate.
You do not need to include your home telephone number, but it is recommended that you leave a mobile number and email address for a recruiter or line manager to contact you.
It’s widely regarded as less important to include information about your status - whether you have children, your date of birth and if you hold a driving licence. However, if you feel that it will help your application, then include any information that you feel is pertinent.
If you speak more than 1 language, and you feel it is relevant, then include your language skills. For many positions, speaking several languages may be an advantage.
If you have social media pages that are relevant to the job you are applying for, and which are appropriate to share, then you may wish to include links to your social media pages.
Many people choose to include a personal statement after their personal information. You might like to write a short description of yourself – perhaps explaining why you have chosen to follow the career path that you have, or what you would like to achieve in the future. This overview can be adapted to fit the role you are applying for, and you can tailor your skill set to the position you are applying for.
It’s important not to write too much, but to be concise, positive and balanced.
When writing your CV, you need to grab the reader’s attention. Some people aren’t comfortable being boastful, so be careful - choose what you wish to include carefully to ensure you set the right tone.
When sharing key achievements, you need to choose examples of work that you are proud of and mention points of interest that are suitable for the audience. Consider the company, the job and the industry.
Your most recent/current role is of most relevance to a prospective employer, so that’s where you need to start.
Detail the dates of employment, provide information about the role/s you held within the company and include your job title.
If you held several positions within one company, you should list the job title and dates of each position and indicate whether these were promotions or a change of career direction within the company.
Highlight any experience in previous positions that is most relevant to the job you are applying for.
List your main responsibilities, the skills required for the position and pick out some achievements whilst in that role.
If you have any gaps in employment, for whatever reason, you should indicate what you were doing in this period. For example, include a statement like, ‘raising my family’, ‘unemployed’, ‘studying’, ‘travelling’ etc. If a prospective employer wants more information, they will ask you at the interview stage, so be prepared for that.
Depending on how many companies you have worked for, and for how many years you have been working, you may have a very long list of previous employment. The accepted rule of thumb is to provide detailed information (as above) for the last 10 years of employment. Some choose not to include any employment history at all beyond that, whilst others choose to list their older employment history very briefly.
Starting with your most recent qualifications and/or education, detail your education and professional qualifications, including grades achieved.
You may choose to provide lots of detail if a specific qualification is particularly relevant to the position you are applying for, and therefore decide to place the education sector above work history.
If you have limited work experience, your education is more relevant, so this is a good example of when education should be placed below your personal information.
You can make your CV more compelling by sharing further insight about yourself, and a good way to achieve that is by sharing information on your pastimes. Be thoughtful about your choices and include something that is relevant to the position you are applying for, or something that demonstrates your dedication and commitment. For example, competing in triathlons might illustrate some of your positive characteristics and demonstrate your motivated and committed character and these will be of interest to a future employer.
Remember, however, that what you may find interesting about yourself may not be of interest to a potential employer, so be careful not to distract the reader’s focus away from your strengths and suitability for the position.
Browse 510 CV template examples for hints and tips to improve your CV and help you get your next job