If you’re applying for a new job, regardless of industry or sector, you require a curriculum vitae (CV), which is provided alongside a cover letter.
Understanding how to write a CV is a critical career skill and an important part of your personal development that you’ll regularly use throughout your life. When it comes to writing your CV, a good way to approach the task is by breaking it up into several sections and focusing on them individually before formatting them in a way that makes sense logically.
Below, we explore how to write a CV in 8 steps and provide an example you can use when creating your own.
How to Write a CV in 8 Steps
When you’re creating your CV, it’s much easier to break the process down into several steps and focus on each individual section.
This ensures that you’ve highlighted your strengths to the best of your ability for each section. Once each element is ready, you can connect each section together to create a logical order.
Below are the 8 key steps to consider when looking at how to write a CV:
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1. Choose a format
The first step to creating your CV is choosing a suitable and relevant format. A CV isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and depending on your individual circumstances, the type of CV may change.
For example, if you have plenty of work experience, you may choose a reverse-chronological CV format that works backwards from your latest role to the earliest. If you have more skills than experience, on the other hand, you may opt for a function-based CV layout that focuses on your abilities over your work experience.
During this process, consider deciding on how you plan to style your CV. Think about the fonts, colours, bullet points and any other text styling you’re going to use that helps a reader distinguish between each section. Once you have all of this information to hand, you’re in a good place to start building out the content that goes within your CV.
2. Provide your contact details
Your contact information is vital for allowing employers to get in touch with you and should be at the top of the page. Make sure you include your email address, phone number and home address so an employer knows where you’re based.
By including this information, you ensure that you can receive feedback from the employer across a range of channels and continue throughout the job application process.
3. Create a personal statement
A personal statement is an overview of you as an individual in terms of your professional experience, knowledge and ability.
It should be a brief but concise definition of your working style, some of your key achievements and the past roles you’ve had. Within your personal statement, you may also highlight your career goals and the development you’re looking to achieve to reach those goals.
Your personal statement should be tailored to match the role you’re applying for, as this provides a personalised touch that may help you stand out from the crowd.
4. Demonstrate your work experience
The work experience section of your CV makes up the bulk of the document and is often the first element that an employer or recruiter looks at.
Your work history not only demonstrates your professional experience but also your longevity in roles, the responsibilities you had and your career progression over time. This makes it a vital section and one of the first things you have to consider when creating your CV.
It’s common for individuals to lay this section out in a ‘reverse-chronological’ format, which places your most recent job title at the top of the list and works backwards.
As you define each role and the responsibilities you had, take the time to list out any key achievements you played a part in.
Use statistics and evidence to support your claims, as this offers context for the reader and also demonstrates the tangible impact you could provide for a business. Format this section in bullet points as they’re easier to read and allow you to fit more information into a smaller space.
5. Detail any educational qualifications
Your educational background plays a huge part in demonstrating your understanding of core concepts and knowledge relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Being able to highlight a track record of education, from GCSEs or A-levels to higher education degrees such as undergraduate degrees, shows that you have a core education alongside more specialised knowledge.
As you start applying for more senior roles or more specialised positions, the importance of highlighting a more specialised education increases.
In this section, make sure you include the name of your degree and where you earned your education.
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6. List your professional skills
The skills section of a CV is where you have to highlight any abilities you have that may help you in the role you’re applying for. Within this section of the CV, you can talk more about the technical side of your career development, such as the experience you have with specific concepts, software or technology related to your field of work.
It’s common for people to highlight a mix of skills within this part of the CV, listing both technical skills and transferable skills that might be applicable to the role they apply for. Examples of skills that you might include in this section are:
· Organisational skills including time management and task prioritisation
· Management skills such as delegation, interpersonal skills and reporting
· Communication skills such as collaboration and providing or receiving feedback
· Technical skills such as experience with specific software such as MS Office or Adobe suites
· Core knowledge such as finance concepts or marketing techniques, backed up by statistics
7. List out any additional information
Once you have your key sections written, consider including any additional information that might support your application. This usually means any extra certifications, courses or awards that you’ve earned that support your application for the role.
Since you should always be tailoring your CV to the position you’re applying for, this allows you to be more specific with the information you include. Consider reading the job description again before you write this section to see if there’s anything you missed in the previous sections.
8. Review your CV
After you’ve completed the first draft of your CV, take a break and come back to review it later with a fresh perspective. By taking this approach, you may identify some areas you don’t like and have a better idea of how you can change these elements going forward.
Consider sharing your draft with peers, friends or family and allow them to read your CV, as they may be able to provide a second opinion and show you how you can improve the CV going forward.
What to Include in Your CV
When you’re creating your CV, you may initially feel overwhelmed at how much information you have to include. While it’s important to be thorough, you don’t want to create a large document an employer may struggle to read. This is why formatting and being concise in your writing is vital, as it helps create a more engaging document for readers.
If you want to know what to include, below we’ve split each section into two categories: compulsory and optional. By including the compulsory sections you can create a good CV, while the optional sections can help you stand out.
The following sections are vital and expected by an employer:
· Your contact information
· Your work experience (including responsibilities)
· Your education
· Your skills
· Professional qualifications or certifications (if required by the job description)
The following sections are optional and may help your application but are not expected:
· Your personal statement
· Your awards, honours or certifications (if not mentioned in the job description)
· Hobbies and interests outside of work
Template for How to Write a CV
Below is an example CV template that you might use when creating your own CV:
I am a motivated, experienced and knowledgeable marketing executive with a deep understanding of core concepts such as lead generation. Over the course of my career I’ve built skills in SEO, PPC and Social Marketing, learning more about how these functions all collaborate to provide a diverse and high-performing lead generation pipeline. In my last role, my work in optimising the company website using SEO techniques helped me increase the number of leads in a month by 32%.
MarketingCo: Jan 2019 – Present
Run SEO optimisation across the website and our blog content
Provide reporting to senior management around our SEO performance
Managing our social channels, including the creation of social assets
MarketingCo: Jan 2018 – Jan 2019
Supported the creation of company emails
Creating website content for the SEO manager
Support the creation of social assets for social marketing
Marketing Degree: July 2015 – July 2018
3 A-Levels: A – B
5 GCSEs: A* – C
SEO and Content Marketing
Knowledge around advanced keyword research for SEO and PPC
Understanding of email builders including Mailchimp and DotDigital
Effective operation of multiple social platforms including Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn
Experienced in using WordPress and associated plug-ins
Hubspot SEO Certification
DotDigital Email Certification