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How to structure your CV in four straightforward steps

Writing your CV can be tough. You want to get in as much relevant detail as possible, without overwhelming a potential employer. It needs to catch their interest and make them want to invite you to an interview to find out more.

While there is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to structuring your CV, there is some best practice, which will make sure you don’t miss anything out or commit a CV faux pas.

#1 Start by getting the general framework of your CV right

Before you concern yourself with the specific sections to include and which order to put them in, there are some more general structural points that you should bear in mind. First of all, if you are sending a hard copy of your CV, make sure the paper is decent quality i.e. 90-100gsm. Otherwise, the paper is likely to feel flimsy and insubstantial.

Also, ensure that the font and font size is easy to read. The exact font size you use will depend on the font you use. If, at a quick glance, the words on your CV look crowded and cramped together, then there is a chance it will just be passed over. By the same token, font that is too big can look clunky and suggests that your CV doesn’t have much substance.

#2 Make sure you cover all the essential information

There are some things that need to be included in your CV, regardless of what role you are applying for or what stage your career is at. This includes:

  • Your name
  • Basic contact information (address, phone number, email)
  • Brief personal statement
  • Employment history
  • Education/Qualifications
  • Interests and achievements

Having all the information should give an employer an indication of what you have to offer as an individual and if you match the job requirements.

#3 Ordering the information on your CV

You should put your contact information at the top of the first page. Then, this is normally followed by a brief personal statement, outlining your key attributes.

The order that the rest of the information goes in will often depend on your personal experience. For example, if you are fresh out of college or university, then it is likely you’ll want to draw attention to your educational achievements. If, on the other hand, you already have considerable work experience, then it is probably more appropriate to put first. To break apart the different sections, it is useful to use subheadings.

#4 How long should you a CV be?

CVs should be no more than 2 sides of A4. This can vary for specific technical or academic jobs, but, in general, a CV that is shorter won’t contain enough information and one that is longer will be too in depth.

The length of the individual sections will again depend on your experience. Rather than trying to write each section to a set length amount, it is more useful to think about the quality of the content. Ask yourself if you have included enough information for a recruiter or employer to have a clear idea of your experience, without including irrelevant details.

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