A Guide to Creating a Winning Resume01 Feb, 20236 minutes
Your CV is a large part of your personal marketing toolbox. It’s your way of documenting you...
Your CV is a large part of your personal marketing toolbox. It’s your way of documenting your biggest achievements, technical skillset, track record and why you are the best candidate for the job. When it comes to job hunting, it is paramount. Get your CV right and you will secure an interview in no time, if you miss the mark, you could end up facing multiple rejections.
Learning the best way to write your CV is a crucial part of your career progression. Every CV is different, to market yourself, but will follow a similar structure. We have put together a CV template to give you an overview of what one should look like, Sample CV Template.
Employers would expect to see the following sections on a CV:
- Contact details
- Professional profile
- Career history
- Hobbies and interests
Your contact details should be positioned prominently, at the top of your CV. They should include your address, telephone numbers, and email address. You may also want to include your LinkedIn URL here too. Although not required, it may also be useful to include your date of birth, nationality, marital status, and driving license details too.
Although your professional profile, or personal statement, is optional, it can be one of the most important aspects of your CV. It should be a small paragraph that sits at the top of your CV and is your chance to showcase who you are, along with your skills and strengths relevant to your specific sector or job role, which can really help you to stand out from the crowd and inject some personality into your CV.
For more information on writing your professional profile, see our helpful guide on Writing a Professional Profile.
This section is your opportunity to outline your previous jobs, internships and relevant work experience. It should be presented in reverse chronological order. Use this section to state your job title, dates of employment, and your responsibilities. Give enough relevant information about your previous employers and projects to interest the reader, but not enough to send them to sleep. The best candidate CVs summarise a wealth of knowledge and experience in a concise and engaging fashion. This section can also be used to substantiate claims made in other parts of your CV.
It can help to select duties and responsibilities that are closely relevant to the role that you are applying for. Be confident to use active words such as led, organised etc… and to indicate the benefits your contributions have had, but avoid exaggerating any facts or information.
You can experiment with the format here, but it is useful to use bullet points for clarity when highlighting your skillset.
Below is a basic example:
March 2021 – February 2022
Company Name, London
Administrative assistant at a Company Name, a marketing company, supporting the marketing department and responsible for the setup and implementation of a new filing system.
- Keeping records up-to-date;
- Implementing the new company filing system;
- Answering phone calls/responding to emails.
Led the successful implementation of the new company filing system, ensuring all staff members were trained in the new system.
This section should be displayed in reverse chronological order, as the career history section. Make sure that you include the name of the institution attended the dates that you were there, along with the grade that you achieved. If you have several qualifications, only list the most relevant. If you have a degree you may choose to list some of the modules that you studied, if they are applicable to the job you are applying for. Again, bullet points are often useful to use in this section to keep it concise.
This is an optional section, some of your achievements can be included throughout your CV, particularly in the Career History section. However, if there is anything that you are particularly proud of and doesn’t fit into another section of your CV, include it here.
These don’t have to be formal achievements, they could be anything from a promotion to the completion of a project. These achievements can help a recruiter build a picture of you and your successes, so if you are proud of something, let them know about it!
Hobbies and Interests
Again, this is an optional section, but can again help a recruiter build a picture of you. This is particularly useful if you have any interesting hobbies that make you stand out from the crowd, or if your hobbies relate to the industry that you are going into.
Your referees are typically your previous employer or educational tutors. In this section, you can list their name, address, contact number and email address. Or, you can simply state “References available upon request”, which can save some space on your CV. Recruiters can then ask for references as and when they are required.
Explaining CV Gaps
There are numerous reasons for having legitimate gaps in your CV. You may feel worried about these, but every situation can be explained, and even used to your advantage.
If your gap is from taking time out to travel, you can describe your cultural experiences and learnings, and mention any work experience that you gained while you were away. There are many interpersonal skills that you can demonstrate during a period of travel such as leadership, adaptability, financial planning etc… List this in your career history section as you would have a previous job.
If you had to take a career break due to sickness, you shouldn’t have a problem stating this, if the illness doesn’t affect your ability to do the job. State that, due to a medical condition, you had to take some time away from work but have now returned to full health and are looking to re-enter the workplace.
If you were made redundant and remained unemployed for a period, explain that your company had to make cutbacks that unfortunately led to a reduction in the number of staff.
Your CV only needs to go back to a maximum of about ten years’ experience, so any gaps before then will be ignored anyway.
Hints and Tips
Proofread – ensure that you avoid “avoidable” errors that will stop your chances before you’ve started. Make sure that you double check your CV, and have someone else check over it too.
Keep it concise – recruiters are unlikely to have the time to read through pages and pages of your CV, keep it down to two A4 pages at a maximum.
Tailor your CV – revisit and tailor your CV for each role that you are applying for, choosing relevant skills, examples and experiences to demonstrate why you are the right person for the job.
Keep your CV up to date – try to remember to update your CV each time you gain a new qualification or skill. You and your career aims change over time and your CV should reflect this.