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Posted on 22 June 2021

How to get started with your CV

What is a CV?

Before we get started with your CV, let’s look at what they actually are and why they’re important. A curriculum vitae (CV for short) is an ideal way for employers to get a feel for the skills and experience you could offer them. When applying for jobs, almost every employer will want to take a look at your CV.

But what if I don’t have a CV?

Luckily, CV’s are easy to put together and generally follow a set pattern. So, even if you’ve never created one before, it’s pretty easy to get started with your CV.

Download your free template

The Ground rules for a good CV

  • Aim for 1-2 sides of A4
  • Use bullet points and lists
  • Stick to readable fonts

What do I need to include in my CV?

  1. Your contact information
  2. Personal statement
  3. Key skills summary
  4. Employment history
  5. Education & qualifications
  6. Hobbies & interests

Contact information

It may sound simple but, including your contact information is key. Generally, this will be your name, address, contact number and email address. You may also want to state your preferred pronouns.

Depending on the position you are applying for, including your social media handle(s) might be useful i.e. if you’re a graphic designer with an Instagram portfolio.

Just be sure that any social media accounts included are professional and will provide useful insight for the recruiter.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is essentially a brief summary (around 4-5 lines ought to do it) of your CV. It will sum up your experience, your achievements and your ambitions.

If this is your first CV and you’re a little low on the experience side of things, use this as an opportunity to emphasise your ambitions and your character. Discuss where you’d like to be and the impact you can imagine yourself having.

Key skills

The key skills section is an opportunity for you to sum up exactly what you can offer a potential employer. Use bullet point to organise your list and focus on adding value to your application. Consider what will help you stand out and be sure to tie skills in with the role you’re applying for.

Employment history

In this section, use bullet points and headers to create a clear and concise list of your employment history. Go in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position.

In your list, include the name of the employer, the job title and the dates you were employed.

Once you have these key details, try and include several examples of your duties and achievements in the role. Try to include skills or achievements that may overlap with the position you’re applying for.

Education & qualifications

As above, you’ll want to use bullet points and headers in this section to make information easy to read. Again, work in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent education or qualification.

In your list, include the name of the educational establishment (whether that’s a College, high school or University), the course or subject, the grade or level achieved and the date completed.

You can be selective or concise when listing your qualifications. For example, if you got lots of GCSE’s, feel free to sum it up instead of listing out every single subject and grade.

Hobbies and interests

This section is optional but gives you an opportunity to give employers a more well-rounded view of you as a person. Here, you can drop the formality level a notch and provide a snapshot of the main things that make you tick.

Consider the role you’re applying for and whether you have any interests or hobbies that might overlap. This is about showing some individuality, so try to avoid generic statements such as, ‘I like music’.

This section is a favourite for interview follow-up and small talk. Use this to your benefit by inviting questions about your hobbies and interests.

If you’re struggling to get started with your CV, contact Thrive to access free impartial advice and support.