Whether you are writing your first CV or improving the CV that you have already written: Below you will find 9 easy-to-follow steps for writing a perfect CV, covering everything from personal details to the final references section.
Each section contains writing guidelines, a completed example + useful tips.
Curriculum Vitae (commonly abbreviated, of course, to CV) is the Latin expression for “the course of one’s life”
The best way to look at a CV is to see it as a ‘marketing tool’ or a ‘sales brochure’ where you sell your skills, qualities, expertise and potential to a prospective employer
As a general rule, the length of a CV should be no longer than 2 A4 pages
A personal profile statement is the second part of your CV, and it is a short statement that tells the prospective employer about the personal skills and qualities that you possess, the experiences that you have, and your career goals and ambitions.
When writing your personal profile, ensure it is:
Short (no more than 5 lines);
Relevant to the job you are applying for, and;
Contains some real-world examples.
I am a creative, imaginative and resilient Copywriter with a talent for developing effective written materials including, but not limited to, corporate web content, emails, press releases, newsletter articles, blog posts and social-networking site posts. My 1st Class Hons Degree in Advertising and my extensive experience in this field is a testament to the passion and drive I have to succeed in this competitive industry.
Your personal statement needs to be punchy and should outline your personal characteristics as they relate to the role you are applying for
Don’t be humble, be confident and write only positive things about yourself
Do not mention any vague clichés such as “excellent communication skills” or “I can work well in a team and on my own initiative” WITHOUT giving real-world examples of these skills and abilities
Including a list of achievements on your CV is an excellent way of making your CV stand out from the crowd. Research has shown that the applicants with achievement-focused CVs are three times more likely to be shortlisted for an interview compared to candidates with duties-focused CVs!
What types of achievements should you include in this section? Well, any accomplishments that portray you in a positive light are worth considering, including:
Trained or educated others
Completed important projects on time and within budget
Increased sales figures (by such-and-such %)
Saved time by coming up with efficient methods and tools
Good results in examinations and tests
Leader/captain/manager in some club or organisation
Anticipated in the organisation of fun fairs, open days, etc.
Over two years of relevant work experience in the field
2:1 degree in Business Management from the University of London
Student Ambassador (2 Open Days), Bexley College
Only include relevant accomplishments in this section
Do not include more than three items under this section
Only use bullet points and short sentences, not long paragraphs
This section is optional; if you feel that you haven’t got something useful to include here you can simply omit it and go straight to the education and training section
This section should contain a summary of your educational background, and it is one of the most important parts of your CV. It informs the reader, in brief, the education you have received to date, starting with the most recent.
Courses that you can list here:
Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees
A-Levels, BTECs and other college-level courses
It is also perfectly fine to list down any additional training/qualifications that you have received. In our example, however, we have included a separate “Qualifications” section below to separate the education from the professional training.
2013 – 2016 BSc Computer Science Northampton University Grade achieved: [1st Class Hons]
Programming Languages: Java, PHP and C++
System Security and Encryption
Contemporary Trends in Computer Science
2012 – 2013 A-Levels East London College Results: ICT: B Media: A English Literature: B
2005 – 2012 GCSEs Ada Secondary School Results: 11 GCSEs at Grades A*-C, including Maths and English.
Only include relevant and up-to-date information that will add value to your CV. For example, if you have a PhD in Molecular Biology, it won’t make any sense to dedicate a big chunk of your CV to your primary, secondary and college education!
Always accompany any entries of this section by grades and dates (from – to)
Expand on important education (e.g. degree) and list some of the relevant modules that you have completed as part of the course
You can use the hobbies and interests section of your CV to demonstrate that you’re well-rounded person who is engaged in extracurricular activities and in the community.
The following are some of the benefits of this having hobbies on your CV:
It will give the recruiter a fuller and more complete picture of you
Sporting interests indicate that you are fit and healthy
Involvement in the community indicates good interpersonal skills
Outside interests tell the employer that you can have a good time as well
They form a great basis for discussion at the interview stage
In my free time, I like to focus on my photography hobby, visiting national galleries and meeting new people. I am also very passionate about food, and I enjoy going out to restaurants with my friends and family on a regular basis.
– When applying for a catering job
Mention one or two hobbies that are relevant to the job. In the example above, the person is applying for a catering position and mentions that they are passionate about food and enjoy going out to restaurants.
Do not include any hobbies that do not add value to your application
Always bear in mind that the priorities of your CV are some of the other major sections of your CV such as the education and employment sections. Do not fill up half a page with your hobbies and neglect the most important sections!
The references section on your CV is the final part which cannot be entirely omitted. Your references should be two people who know you well and have worked with you in one way or another and who can vouch for you to the prospective employer.
One of your references should be your current or former employer, and the second referee can be any person who knows you well.
For each of your referees include the following details:
Always give the job title of the referees; otherwise, they can just be your mates for all we know!
Always ask permission of your references before you write them on your CV
If you decide not to include references on your CV you can simply write “references available upon request.“
Use appropriate presentational techniques to make your CV easy to scan and read
Fit your CV’s content into 2 A4 pages (remove information when necessary)
Don’t forget to proofread your CV for spelling and grammar mistakes
Tailor your CV for each individual job that you are applying for
Congratulations! You have now written a killer CV which will dramatically increase your chances of securing a job interview. Good luck!
Written by Sobhan Mohmand Sobhan is a qualified Careers Advisor and Professional CV Writer with over 10 years of experience in helping job seekers get a job. He is a Member of the Careers Development Institute (CDI) and is listed on the official UK Register of Career Development Professionals. He holds a Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development (QCF).
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