There is no absolute formula for how you should set out your CV but the following structure is the one likely to make the best impression with employers (it also has the benefit of being the most common format and so is the easiest for employers to compare with other candidates).
Before we go into the layout of a good CV, below are some key points to remember when writing it:
There are several things you can do to ensure that your CV hits the mark every time including:
1. Keep it brief
When you’re starting out in your career, you’ll struggle to fill one side of A4 but even when you’re many years (and jobs) down the line, you should still limit your CV to two or three pages. Employers don’t want to know everything about you – they can ask for more information when they interview you.
2. Keep it clear
Avoid using jargon – use plain, clear language and keep the tone positive but professional. And while we’re on the subject of things to leave out, don’t use graphics, unusual fonts or colours. Your CV should be clear and easy to read, not distracting.
3. General Layout
Avoid big blocks of text, this is hard for employers to pick out the bits they need. Make the use of paragraphs and bullet points to keep key points easy to find and visible to a potential employer. In a competitive market, a hiring manager doesn’t have time to read through blocks of text on 50 CVs and is more likely to pick your CV over others if the skills and experience they require are easy to pick out.
Avoid using text boxes as the formatting often gets lost and has a severe impact on the presentation of the CV!
4. Get advice
Ask three people to read your CV and give their honest opinion. Choose friends and trusted colleagues who know you well and who have some idea of the work you do. Be prepared to make changes
5. Proof-read and proof-read
This could be your first contact with a prospective employer, so don’t give them a reason to reject you just because you haven’t checked your spelling or grammar. Above all, make sure that your contact information is correct. You don’t want to miss out because you’ve mistyped your email address.
In terms of the formula and order of a CV, this should be as follows:
Name, contact information, nationality (but no photo).
A short, single paragraph outlining your skills and experience.
Include company name, job title, your responsibilities and achievements. Don’t leave any gaps between jobs. This should also be in the order of most recent job first! Employers don’t necessarily need to know what you were doing 20 years ago but certainly need to know your most recent experience.
Unless you’re applying for your first job, don’t list every GCSE, A Level result. Shorten it to “10 GCSEs, including Maths A* and English B” or something similar.
Should you have further education such as a Degree or HNC / HND etc, make is clearly visible with result included.
If applying for a job that requires a specific technical qualification you have then this section can also be included before the Employment History.
Not essential but it can be useful to show that you’re not just a work slave and can strike up some common ground with hiring manager and team fit. Remember to keep it short and nothing too out there as this could have an adverse effect.
Keeping to this simple formula and remembering the key points will ensure better response to your CV.