How to build a CV
Your CV, or curriculum vitae, is a document used to sell yourself to prospective employers.
You should use it, to tell us about you, your professional history, your skills, abilities and achievements. It should highlight to us why you are the best person for the job.
You will need a CV when applying for a job with us. In addition to your CV, you will also require a cover letter and a completed application form.
What should you include in your CV?
While the structure of a CV is flexible and personal to your unique skill set and experiences, there are particular sections that we expect to see on your CV regardless.
- Name, professional title and contact details
The first part of your CV should contain your name, professional title and contact details. Under no circumstances should you title your CV with ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘CV’ as it’s a waste of valuable space. Treat your name as the title instead.
When it comes to your contact details, your email address and phone number(s) are essential. It was once customary to include your full address on your CV, but today, you simply need to list your town and county.
If you like, you can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section – but only if it’s up to date!
- Personal profile
A personal profile or personal statement,, is one of the most important aspects of your CV. It’s a short paragraph that sits just underneath your name and contact details giving us an overview of who you are and what you’re all about.
You should tailor your profile to every job you apply for, highlighting specific qualities that match you to the role. Aim to keep your personal statement short and sweet, and no longer than a few sentences. To make the most of this section, you should try to address the following:
- Who are you?
- What can you offer us?
- What are your career goals and aspirations?
- Experience and employment history
Your employment history section gives you a chance to outline your previous jobs, internships and any work experience. List your experience in reverse chronological order so your most recent role is first.
When listing each position of employment, state your job title, the employer, the dates you worked and a line that summarises the role. Then bullet point your key responsibilities, skills and achievements.
It helps to choose the duties most relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it’s a long list. If you have many years’ worth of experience, you can reduce the detail of old or irrelevant roles. If you have positions from more than 10 years’ ago, you can delete them.
- Education and qualifications
Like your experience section, your education should be listed in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institutions and the dates you were there, followed by the qualifications and grades you achieved. If you have a degree, you could list a few of the most relevant modules, assignments or projects underneath.
- Key skills
If you’re writing a functional CV, or have some abilities you want to show off to us immediately, insert a key skills section underneath your personal profile. You should aim to detail four to five abilities at most.
- Hobbies and interests
If you feel that your CV is lacking, you can boost it by inserting a hobbies and interests section at the end. Be careful though; avoid listing hobbies that don’t add value to your CV or are run-of-the-mill, like reading. Draw on interests that make you stand out or are relevant to the job.
Like including an address on your CV, adding your referees to the end of your CV is no longer standardised. You can include a line that reads ‘references available on request’, but if you don’t have room, it’s acceptable to remove it altogether.
- Formatting and spacing guidelines
If you’re unsure of how to format your CV, it’s may be worth searching the internet and downloading a few CV templates to familiarise yourself. Here are some formatting and spacing tips to bear in mind:
- Length: The standard length of a CV in the UK is two pages. However, one size doesn’t fit all, and so for some professionals, one or three pages may be more appropriate.
- Headings: Each section must be introduced by a big, bold heading to ensure its easy to read.
- Font type: We will receive your CV in a digital format, so choose a clear font like Calibri or Arial. You can use a different font type for your headings, but keep it professional and easy-to-read too.
- Font size and page margins: The body of your CV should be between 10 and 12 point font, and your headings between 14 and 18 points. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, but never reduce them to less than 1.25cm or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.
- Proofreading and consistency: Keep the formatting consistent throughout your CV. Don’t spoil your polished look by including typos and inaccuracies; proofread your CV and get a friend or family member to check it, so you capture every mistake.
- Tailoring and keywords: It’s perfectly acceptable to keep a generic copy of your CV, but if you’re applying for a job, you must tailor it to the role. Not only will this show employers why you’re a match.
- What not to include: There are a variety of details that should not be included on your CV. Here are a few of the common ones:
- A headshot: In many countries, it’s common practice to include a photo of yourself on your CV. But the UK is not one of them.
- Age and date of birth: The only dates that should be on your CV are from employment and your qualifications. Your age doesn’t affect your ability to do the job, and it’s illegal for employers to ask about age under the Equality Act 2010.
- Marital status: Like your age, your marital status and dependents don’t affect your ability to do your job. These details are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and it’s against the law for employers to ask about them, so don’t include them on your CV.
Got a question?
Our friendly recruitment team are more than happy to answer any questions you may have throughout the recruitment process.
Call us on 0300 555 5560 and ask to speak to our recruitment team, we are available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.