How to structure your CV


When it comes to writing a CV it can be a daunting task but there is lots of help and advice available on line. You can visit a site that is full of lots of useful help and advice from avoiding the clichés of CVs to making sure even your e-mail represents you in a professional manner. There are also many sites offering free CV templates so you don’t have to start completely from scratch hoping that you have it right. When thinking about the structure of each part though there are some basic rules to follow. Your CV should be laid out in the following order.

Personal Details

These should include your name, address, date of birth (not a requirement with age discrimination laws now) contact telephone number and e-mail

Education and qualifications

  • University/college qualifications
  • A-Levels
  • GSCE

You can mention grades unless they are poor otherwise you can leave this information off.

Work experience

List all work experience and make sure to explain any gaps – a year off, a gap between jobs etc. This will avoid any awkwardness when questioned at interview.

Use action words such as developed, progressed, produced and organised. Initiative, dynamic, proactive, self-motivated are all good action words that will impress recruiters.

Relate your skills to the role that you are applying for. For example accountancy/finance will require someone with numeracy, analytical and problem solving skills whereas a role in sales will require an enthusiastic, people person who is experienced in customer service.


Communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, organisation and ability to work under pressure……these are all skills that employers look for when recruiting. It is not enough to just claim that you have good communication skills or that you have good leadership skills. You need to demonstrate this either in written form in your CV or at least have the examples to back this up when questioned at interview. You are likely to be asked “tell me about a time when you showed good leadership skills”.

Hobbies and Interests

This really tells a lot about a person so keep it short and to the point. Although it is good to see what you are interested in the emphasis will be on your work history so keep it short e.g

  • Taekwondo – Black belt qualification and South West champion (shows focus and perseverance)
  • Captain of the Local football team (shows great leadership skills)

Avoid “Socialising” as to many this means going out drinking and is an overused cliché on CV’s. Also avoid passive hobbies like reading, watching tv, computer games etc. Use a variety if you can to show a varied selection of interests involving many skills.


It is recommended to list 2 references. You need to list the company names, addresses and telephone numbers. A lot of larger companies have a HR department that will simply confirm the position you held and the dates that you worked there. Be sure to give the correct detail.

And finally……………………

Spell check, check for extra words, misspelt words that may not come up on spell check, missing dates etc. Make sure that all of the information is accurate but more importantly make sure you send it. You have a small window of opportunity to sell yourself – make sure you do it well.

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