If you’re looking for a new job, you need a CV. Your CV is a mandatory document and completely unique to you. It should highlight your skills, experience, qualifications and any achievements you’ve made in the workplace.
Understanding how to write a CV is a long-term, universal skill that will serve you multiple times throughout your career. When you start writing a CV it’s a good idea to break the process down into steps, which should stop you from overwhelming yourself.
In this article, we explore how to write a CV in 8 simple steps and also have an example CV that you can use when creating your own.
7 Key Steps on How to Write a CV
By following the steps detailed below, you’ll have a better understanding of how to write a CV that is perfect for your next application.
We’ve split the process into these steps as it makes creating a cohesive and detailed document much easier than attempting to do it as one large wall of text.
Once you have each section created, you can put them into a design that is easy-to-understand and create a logical, effective order for the reader. The steps are as follows:
1. Choose a format
The first step in how to write a CV is choosing the right formatting. Remember that a CV isn’t a universal template. It needs to be flexible and tailored to each position that you’re applying for. Depending on the role, it should have its own styling and content.
So what do we mean by the ‘right’ format? There are generally two accepted structures:
Reverse Chronological Format: Useful for people with plenty of work experience. This format leads with a personal statement before going into your work experience and past responsibilities. If you don’t have lots of skills but lots of experience, this ensures that the reader gets this information first.
Functional Format: This is better for people with more technical skills or qualifications than experience. This leads with a personal statement and then highlights the various skills in your skill set.
In terms of design, it’s up to you how complex you want the CV to be. Generally, keep it as ‘readable’ as possible. You want your titles to be bold and where you can use bullet points to make it easier to read during a screening process.
2. Provide contact details
Before you start fleshing out your CV, get the fundamentals right. You should list all of your contact details at the very top of the page and make sure they’re visible. Highlight your email, phone number and address.
This is critical information for an employer after all – if you’re successful you want to make sure they can reach you!
Download Our CV Template
3. Write a Personal Statement
Your personal statement is a great way of starting your CV as it’ll give a brief overview of you as a professional – ideal for recruiters screening lots of CV’s at once.
The personal statement should be concise, engaging and give the headline statistics about you. If you have a particularly specific skill, qualification or achievement, put it into your personal statement.
At each stage of creating your CV, you should always be referring back to the job description to make sure you’re on the right track and hitting all of the key points they mention.
Remember – ideally your personal statement should always be bespoke for each individual role you apply for.
4. List Your Work Experience
The work experience section is something that recruiters often focus on because it’s the best way to find pertinent information about you.
Your work experience does much more than just highlight where you’ve worked – it shows your longevity, specific responsibilities you’ve held and career progression in terms of promotions.
In the majority of cases, you should lead with your most recent work position and work backwards. If you have lots of different past roles, only highlight the ones that offer some relevancy to the job you’re applying for.
When you’re defining the responsibilities of past roles, list out your key achievements at the same time. You want to make as much use of the space as possible. A great way of doing this is to format the section in bullet points as they’re easier to read.
5. List Your Educational or Industry-Specific Qualifications
This section of the CV represents your overall knowledge base and tracks your career development. For more specialised roles, it’s usually expected that you’ll have the relevant qualifications – whether that’s a higher education or industry-specific training or certifications.
It’s usually advised to format this section based on the job description but a general rule of thumb is: list any industry-specific certifications first, then your higher education grades after that (unless the job description specifically asks for a certain grade).
This is the section that typically needs the most regular updates as you develop your skill set.
6. List Your Professional Skills
A natural extension of the educational section is the skills section. This is where you lay out the ‘hard’ technical skills and the ‘soft’ transferable skills you have as a professional.
Examples of the skills you might include are organisation, problem-solving, communication, design software knowledge, technical marketing certifications, accounting qualifications, safety certifications and background checks.
Some people tend to format this in a more visually appealing way but this can take up valuable real estate on the page. Ultimately, you want to communicate what makes you stand out from other candidates as quickly as possible in a way that is easy to parse.
7. Review your CV
The final step is one that is easy to overlook. You need to make sure that your CV is grammatically correct and reads well. This is a professional document and often the first point of contact between you and a potential employer.
Take a break once you complete the first draft and get a second opinion from someone who can help.
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What Should You Include in your CV?
When you start writing a CV, it can be overwhelming trying to fit your entire career into one document.
The most important thing to remember is that you want the document to be engaging. While you might be tempted to put everything possible on there, you don’t want to lose the reader’s attention.
To help you get your head around what needs to be on there, we’ve devised a checklist you can use at the end of the process. It has two sections – compulsory and optional.
Work experience (and responsibilities)
Qualifications or certifications
Personal statement (highly recommended)
Awards, honours or voluntary work
Hobbies and interests
CV Template for How to Write a CV
Below you can find our example CV template that you can use when you write your own. You don’t have to follow this to the letter but it can be a good place to start:
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