How to write a CV – what to include

Your CV is the tool that helps you get your foot in the door when applying for jobs. It acts as the first opportunity to promote yourself to a potential employer.

It may seem daunting to write about yourself at first, especially if you’re starting from scratch and don’t know what a CV needs to contain.

That’s why we’ve put together some guidance on what (and what not) to include when writing a CV:

Personal details
Start off by ensuring you’ve covered the basics. You need to include your personal and contact information – your full name, address, contact number(s), and email address.
You don’t need to include your age, date of birth, marital status, or nationality.

Personal statement
A good CV should always include a personal statement. Your personal statement is a chance to describe who you are, what you can bring to the role, and your career aims. Identify skills in the job spec and include examples of these. Keep it short and snappy. Aim to prove why you’re suitable in one short and succinct paragraph, ideally no more than five or six sentences.

Education
List your educational experience and achievements, including all qualifications, the awarding bodies, and the grades you attained. You should list these in reverse chronological order so that your most recent qualification is at the top. If you have more educational experience than work experience, it’s a good idea to place greater emphasis on this section.

Work Experience
This section should include all your relevant work experience. Include the name of the company, your job role, your employment dates, and your key responsibilities. Again, this should be listed in reverse chronological order, with your most recent role first.

Skills
The skills section of your CV shows the employer you have the abilities required to succeed in the role. Often, employers pay close attention to the skills section to determine who should move on to the next step of the hiring process. Be sure to include job-related, transferable, and adaptive skills (backing them up with examples), and make it clear how you would apply these to the new role.

Hobbies and interests (optional)
You don’t always need to mention your hobbies and personal interests in your CV. However, including some can be a great way to stand out from the crowd, show the prospective employer a bit of your personality and make it a basis for conversion at the job interview. Don’t add anything for the sake of it. If it’s not going to add value, leave it out.

References
Your CV references are people who can vouch for your character, skills, and experience to potential employers. References are only needed right at the very end of the recruitment process. Today, it’s normal to go through multiple interview and assessment stages. Then you’re given an offer and only when you’ve accepted it are your references be requested.

References are often unnecessary so early on. What’s more, in today’s data protection-minded world, it’s not good form to practice someone’s personal info to each and every job application you make. A better tact is to include ‘references available on request’ somewhere on your CV.

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