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2 August 2021

Writing a CV

A CV is typically made up of certain topics about yourself and your work and education history, often under separate headings or sections, as listed below. Read on to find out exactly what sort of information you would include.

Personal details

In this section of your CV, you will need to include your name, address,telephone number and email address.

If you are a member of a professional social media site, such as LinkedIn, you can include this information in this section.

If you include information about any professional social media site that you are a member of, make sure that you check that your profile is up-to-date and looks professional. You can find more information about ways in which to use social media and how to avoid some of the pitfalls. Some people may include their nationality, marital status and age in this section, however, the employer will not need this information, when deciding whether or not to offer you an interview.

Personal Profile

This is the opening section of your CV and the space from which a potential employer will begin to get a sense of who you are.

Along with your experience skills and ambitions, employers often want to understand a little about your values and qualities. Remember, it is likely that the reader will have a pile of CVs to read through and many of them will contain over-used terms and phrases, such as “reliable” and “team player”, so you need to make sure that your personal profile will stand out. It is therefore important to make sure that this section has impact, while remaining professional and relevant to the post that you wish to apply for. Here are some tips:

  • Keep it brief, no longer than 1 – 2 short paragraphs
  • When describing your experience, skills and qualities, link them to the role that you are applying for, e.g. examples of leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution, presentation skills etc.
  • Link your career ambitions to the role that you are applying for
  • Give the reader a sense of how your values match the organisation’s ethos – researching their mission and vision statements, where relevant, is one way of finding out the kind of values that are important to them. 

Employment History

This section will explain to the reader your work history.

You should start with your current or most recent job and work back through to your first position, making sure you include dates that you started and moved on from each job. Include information about each role and make sure that you describe skills and achievements for each rather than just listing responsibilities. A good way to do this is by using the C.A.R approach:

Challenge – give an example of a challenge or task that you were given or came across.

Actions – describe what actions you took to complete or resolve the challenge.

Result(s) – inform the reader about the positive results that you achieved from this. Link any experience and skills gained in your employment to the role that you wish to apply for and explain any gaps in employement in a positive way, for example: job seeking, volunteering or caring for a relative.

Education and Training

This section will give prospective employers an overview of your education and training history and any qualifications that you have achieved.

Starting with your most recent qualifications, include the following information:

  • Training provider, e.g. college, university, school
  • Qualification(s) achieved with each training provider
  • Dates that each qualification was awarded – this information will be on your certificate
  • Grade achieved, if relevant
  • Work-related courses or training

Interests and personal achievements

This section will give prospective employers and understanding of your personal interests.

Your interests, personal achievements and any voluntary work that you might do in your spare time will give prospective employers an insight into who you are as a person, and what other benefits you could bring to the role. For example, if you take part in regular sports activities, it can be assumed that you are fit, healthy and motivated. If you give up some of your spare time to volunteer, it too shows that you are motivated and that you care about your community. Do not be tempted to make something up, you may be questioned about your interests if you are offered an interview.


A reference is a description of your work-related personal qualities.

This is given by referees of your choice, with the purpose of supporting your application. At least one of your references must be work-related and by a senior member of staff, preferably your current or previous line manager. It is expected that the people who you give as referees have known you for some time, usually at least two years, as they will be asked about your character, e.g. work-rate, trustworthiness, and how well you get along with others. Your work-related reference may also be required to confirm your role at their organisation.

You will usually be asked for the details of your referees at some stage in the recruitment process. If you are asked to complete an application form, a section for references is usually included on the form. It is up to you as to whether or not you wish to include this information on your CV.

If you include your referees’ details on your CV, make sure the following information is given:

  • Name
  • Work contact details – do not give personal contact details without the referee’s consent

If you do not wish to include your referees’ details on your CV, it is still useful to make the reader aware that you can provide references. You may want to add a statement such as, “References available upon request.” in this situation.


Download our CV template here

CV Writing Tips

A typed CV is neater and easier to read, compared with a hand-written CV, and can be emailed and uploaded electronically, as well as printed out as a hard copy.

Use a standard font, such as Ariel, and a simple layout so that readability isn’t affected on different screens.

Make sure that you include essential personal details such as your name, address, contact telephone number and email address.

Tailor your CV to the job that you are applying for.

Digital CVs – sometimes, software is used to check CVs for key words, so make sure that you include requirements listed in the job advert in your CV where relevant, to make sure it gets passed on to the person responsible for recruitment.

Try to keep your CV to no more than 2 sides of A4 paper.

Include relevant achievements but be honest.

Check your CV for errors and also pass it on to a friend to proofread – a fresh pair of eyes are more likely spot mistakes that may have been overlooked.

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