‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ – Will Rogers

Your CV is the most important element of any application. A clear and effective CV will be greeted by potential employers positively and allow you to progress to the interview process. Get it wrong and you could find yourself struggling with little motivation to apply again. Consequently, you can better your chances of being successful by structuring your CV in the most concise and effective manner possible. By applying our recruitment experience, we have put together this simple step-by-step guide to provide you with the very best chance of finding your perfect role.

Your CV structure (usually around 2 pages long)

  1. Name, professional title and contact details

This is the first essential part of your CV and should be positioned at the very top of the page. You should not use ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ to title your CV as it is a waste of premium space.

Essential contact details include:

  • Your email address and phone number/s.
  • Your address or at the very least your current location by stating your town and county.
  • If you have one, you may also want to supply a hyperlink to your LinkedIn page. This can be a good way to give greater details into your past experiences without extending your CV to more than 2 pages.
  1. Professional profile / personal statement

This is a short paragraph that should be located beneath your name and contact details. It gives potential employers insights into who you are and your aspirations. This paragraph should be tailored to each job description and focus on specific qualities which make you the ideal candidate. This paragraph should be no longer than a few sentences, very positive in tone and focus on answering the following questions:

  • Why are you applying?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What can you offer the company?
  • Why do you think you are ideally suited for a position?
  1. Employment history

If you are an experienced candidate, your employment history will likely be the most prominent section of your CV. It provides potential employers a roadmap through your career, highlighting the skills you have obtained from previous jobs, internships, schemes and work experiences. You should begin by listing your previous roles in reverse chronological order, making sure your current / latest role is seen first. For each individual role you should include:

  • Job title
  • Company name
  • Employment dates
  • A summary of the role (no longer than a few sentences)
  • A list of the technologies used

Bullet points of your key responsibilities, skills and achievements (note: you should choose responsibilities and duties that are relevant to the role you wish to apply for. If you are highly experienced with many years in employment, you can also reduce the detail of older and less relevant roles to save on vital space).

  1. Education and qualifications

Please note: if you have graduated recently (in the last year) you should place this section above your ‘Employment History’ section.

Like the previous employment section, your education should also be listed in reverse chronological order. You should include the name of the institutions, the dates of study, your qualifications and the grades you achieved.

  1. Additional sections

There are several short additional sections you can include to improve and strengthen your CV. This will be unique to each individual and will depend on your own personal areas of strength. These could include:

  • Hobbies and interests – linking these interests to your application can be of great benefit. For example: ‘I enjoy attending and participating in hackathons’, if you are applying to software developer roles.
  • Special achievements and awards.
  • Articles / academic papers you have previously published.

Formatting guidelines

  • Length – usually two pages, however if you are an experienced candidate with a lot of experience it can be acceptable to use a third page. Better to space your CV out then squash it onto two pages.
  • Font type – usually Arial. If you choose to differ from this you must make sure the font is clear, professional and easy to read.
  • Font size– 10 point font, 12 for headers.
  • Headings – must be used before each separate section as they provide a guide to the reader. Must be placed in bold to increase visibility.
  • Proofreading and consistency – VERY IMPORTANT! Consistency is key throughout your CV. Be vigilant for spelling mistakes and ensure all the information you provide is 100% accurate.

By following this guide, you can ensure your CV stands out, communicates the most important information in an effective format and catches the attention of potential employers. Hopefully, this gives you the advantage and puts you on the path to secure your perfect role!