Creating your CV

What is a CV?

A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé), is a document that acts as an overview of your skills, education, and work experience. They are an essential part of any job search and most companies or recruitment consultants will ask you to send your CV to them when applying for a role.

Essentially, a CV is a tool to sell yourself and give you the best chance of being asked to an interview.


What should you include in your CV?

Although there’s no official CV structure, there is certain key information you should always include:

  • Your personal details (e.g. name, address, phone number)*
  • A personal statement (a brief summary of who you are and what you’re looking for)
  • Relevant key skills
  • Work experience (start with the most recent and work backwards)
  • Education, qualifications & training (the most recent first)
  • Memberships of relevant organisations related to your work or the role

There are lots of free templates available. You can find them in Microsoft Word or do a quick Google search. Many job sites have free templates too.

*The only dates you should include on your CV are in the employment and qualifications sections. 


Formatting your CV

The layout of your CV says a lot about you as a candidate, and how it looks is just as important as the content. Find a template you are happy with – you might need to try a few – to find one you are happy with.

To make sure your CV is clear, concise, and easy to read, follow these key tips:

  • Present information in a logical order
  • Keep it brief (and relevant)
  • Check spelling and grammar (and ask someone else to check it too)
  • Choose a common business font (like Arial or Calibri) and use sizes between 10 and 12 point
  • Use headings and bullet points
  • Make heading clear by increasing the font size or making them bold
  • Include white space – leaving blank spaces on a page helps the reader because your CV won’t feel cluttered and it is easier to pick out the relevant information
  • Spell out acronyms – you might know that EGR is Exhaust Gas Recirculation but will your reader?


How long should a CV be?

When it comes to CVs, size matters! Think about it from a recruiter’s perspective, they may have 100s of CVs to go through in a day and at some point will lose concentration. Keeping your CV short and easy to read with all the relevant information easy to find will help. 

91% of surveyed recruiters said two sides of A4 was the perfect length of CV.


Tailor your CV

It’s always good to keep your CV up to date and keep a copy safely stored away. When it comes to applying for jobs you need to make a copy of your CV and tailor it to the role you are applying for. This means identifying the required skills and experience in an advertised role and then adjusting your CV to bring out your most relevant skills, experience and achievements in your CV.


Personal statement

A personal statement or summary, usually sits at the top of your CV, under your name and contact details. It is a short paragraph (up to 5 lines) that says who you are, what your career goals are and what skills and experience you can bring to a company and the role.


Highlight your achievements

While it is essential to state your skills and experience it is also important to highlight your achievements. This can be a short sentence under the list of your skills/experience for each role which provides an example of the value you added to the organisation or your team. It could be financial, great customer feedback, improved processes – something you are proud of and can talk about in an interview.


Use keywords

Read the job description and advert for the role you are applying for. What skills and experience are they looking for? Those are keywords and you should use them when describing your skills and experience on your CV. This helps recruiters easily tell at a glance that you have what they are looking for.


Check and check again

Read through your CV and look at it from the recruiter’s perspective – does it have a logical flow? Do my skills, experience and achievements match the job description and stand out?

Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Use your device’s spellchecker and make sure the language is set to English UK. Ask at least one other person to check it too. Mistakes don’t make a good impression…



Adding a headshot is common in many countries – but not the UK.


Hobbies and interests

Only include these if they are relevant to the job you’re applying for. If they’re not, leave them off. This will leave you with more space to add relevant information.


Saving the file

If you can, save your CV as a PDF – this can be opened on any device. It avoids any issues with the recruiter not having the same software that you used to create your CV and not being able to open the document. 



You don’t have to add references to your CV or add ‘references available on request’. If you are offered a role after an interview, you will be asked for details then.


Now you’ve got your CV sorted, let's get started on your cover letter!

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