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Writing Your CV – The basics you need to know

Struggling to structure your CV? Feeling like you have reached a brick wall? Here are some of our top tips on how to write a stand out CV.

Firstly, an effective CV should include the following elements:

  1. Personal Details
  2. Employment History and Work Experience
  3. Education and Training
  4. Interests and achievements
  5. Additional Information
  6. References

Personal Details

Keep it simple; provide your full name, address and relevant contact details. No need for your best head shot or date of birth, though.

Make sure your email address is professional and not going to grab the interviewer’s attention for the wrong reasons.

Include your LinkedIn profile and be sure to keep these profiles active and up to date, otherwise its best to leave them off your CV altogether.

Employment History and Work Experience

List the details of your work history in date order with the most recent at the top. If you don’t have much experience there is no need to panic – just place more emphasis on your education, training and the experiences you have gained that you feel make you suitable for this role.

Always work from your most recent/ current employment and work backwards. Each previous employer should be listed as follows:

  1. Employers name
  2. Dates you worked for them
  3. Your job title
  4. Your main tasks and duties

Try to be precise when listing your tasks and duties; use short bullet points. Include ‘action’ words that describe real challenges and responsibilities you faced in each respective role (e.g. co-ordinated, managed, liaised, integrated).

Relate your skills and experiences to the job description and personal specification for the job you are applying for; voluntary work and other related experience is perfectly acceptable in this section!

Including a couple of achievements in each role is an effective way to allow your CV to stand out. Examples could be particular targets you have reached or exceeded, or a completed project that you are particularly proud of. This demonstrates to the employer that you are a motivated employer.

Try not to leave extended gaps in your work history; if you had time away travelling, caring for a relative or job seeking, include these as well as everything you learnt.

Education and Training

Start with your most recent qualifications and work backwards. Use concise bullet-pointed lists with the following information:

  • The academic institution you attended (i.e. university, school etc.)
  • The dates your qualifications were awarded and the relevant grades (e.g. A-level Mathematics – B grade / BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy – 2:1)
  • Any work-related courses and training – only include those applicable to the position you are applying for.

Interests and Achievements

Here is your chance to allow some of your personality to shine through your CV.

Whether it’s completing a marathon, taking part in a charity walk or being part of a local kayaking team, it is an opportunity to show you have commitment and motivation outside of work and is often used as a talking point when you reach the interview stage to allow the interviewer to get to know YOU.

Moreover, including your involvement with clubs or societies is a subtle way of showing your ability to integrate well with others.

Additional Information

Any relevant information that isn’t mentioned above can be put here if needed. This could include an explanation for a gap in your employment history, additional languages you speak, if you hold a UK driver’s license, reasons for relocating etc.


You should try and include at least one work related referee, for example your previous line manager. Or, if you haven’t gained much experience in a working environment, include someone responsible who has known you for a long time (e.g. a personal tutor).

You can either put these references directly on your CV or, if you would prefer, simply put ‘References available upon request’.

If you do include your references, make sure firstly that they are aware they could be contacted and provide the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Relationship to you (e.g. line manager)
  3. Email
  4. Telephone Number

Finally, check for any spelling or grammar errors before submitting your CV application, as you will be kicking yourself if this is the only reason for not making it to the next stage!

Good luck!

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