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How should you structure your CV

Depending on where you are in your working life, and what you want to highlight to employers, you’ll want to structure your CV in different ways. In this article, we’ll look at the different ways in which you can structure your CV and what would be most suitable for you.

All CVs need to contain certain elements and these include:

Name and contact information

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • A LinkedIn profile and any other professional social media handles

Summary statement

This 1-3 sentence statement highlights your key skills and experience. If you are new to working life, are returning to work after a career break or are changing careers it’s an especially great way to show off your transferable skills or that your experiences have a common theme. 

Work experience

The positions, responsibilities and accomplishments you’ve had in your roles so far. Remember for each role to include your title, company name, location, and dates of employment. If you are changing careers, instead of listing your work experience in chronological order, you can list ‘relevant experience’ first followed by ‘other work experience’. If you are new to working life or returning to work after a career break you can also include volunteer work, especially if you’ve had roles of responsibility and experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. 

Education

How much education you mention depends on how long you’ve been working and the level of education you’ve received. Remember to include your institution, grades earned, the year you completed the course, and any awards you received. If specific information is particularly relevant to the job you are applying for then you can add a paragraph about this as well. You can also mention short and online courses etc. 

Skills

You can either bullet point your top skills so that employers can see immediately what you are capable of or, if you only just starting work and have little experience, you can explain in more detail where these skills are from.

Other

You might also want to add (if not mentioned elsewhere in your CV) any awards you’ve won, any memberships of professional bodies you belong to or any volunteering your do, especially if it relevant to the job you are applying for. 

CV structures

Traditional Format

  1. Contact information
  2. Work experience
  3. Other
  4. Education
  5. Skills

Recently Left Education

If you have just left college or university and have little experience, you can focus on the skills you’ve gained across your education, extra curricular activities and your work experience. You might also want to include a summary to give you experience so far a story. If you think you have enough work experience for the job you are applying for, then the traditional format may work better.

  1. Contact information
  2. Summary
  3. Skills to include your work experience, extra curricular actives and education
  4. Education

Career Change

If you are changing career you’ll definitely want to include a summary to show when you’ve come from and where you want to go, creating a framework for your CV. You should also focus on relevant work experience and can highlight your skills from the outset.

  1. Contact information
  2. Summary
  3. Skills
  4. Relevant work experience
  5. Other work experience
  6. Education
  7. Other

Re-entering in the Workplace

Play around with the above formats - which one you choose will depend on the role you want to return to. Remember that any relevant voluntary work and courses that you’ve been undertaking while you’ve been out of work are a great way to show that you are motivated and interested in the job you are applying for.