What to Include in Your First CV

Woman Writing

After years of education, it’s finally time to enter the world of work. But you’ve never written a CV before and you don’t know where to start. What should you include? What should you leave out?

Every CV needs to be unique and must be tailored for each different application. Identifying the expectations of your prospective employers is where your research needs to begin.

There’s no definitive way to set out a CV, but here are some standard sections your document should contain.

Contact information

It may sound basic, but it’s important to include your contact information on your CV. Otherwise, how will employers be able to get in touch?

The main things here are your name, email address (which should look professional) and phone number. Other details, like your postal address, should only be included if requested or relevant. 

Personal Statement

This section is your chance to talk about who you are, why you’re interested in your chosen profession and what your ambitions and goals are. Many, especially those new to job hunting, don’t know to include a section like this, so just having it can make you stand out.

Put the personal statement towards the top of the first page, just below the contact information, and keep it to two or three sentences. This is one of the pieces of your CV that you can easily adjust for different applications to correspond with the job description.

Education

You should list your education from GCSE level onwards. State the exams you took and the grades you received or, if you’re awaiting any results, your expected results.

If particular modules in your further or higher education relate to a role or scheme you’re applying for, be sure to highlight these. You can provide more detailed breakdowns of the most relevant courses, and include your module grade to demonstrate your competency in that subject.

Employment history

If you have any relevant employment history, ensure you add this. You should also include non-industry experience, because it shows you know what it’s like to have a job. You can highlight parts of unrelated roles that may be relevant to the job you’re applying for, even if it’s as basic as “worked in a team”. You should include any volunteer experience as well.

Skills

As with your education history, make sure you highlight any skills you have that are relevant to the role. For example, if you’re going for a quantity surveying position, you’ll want to mention your data analysis and numeracy skills.

You can also include your software proficiencies, even basics such as Microsoft Office. List these as simple bullet points; you can always go into more detail in the cover letter or at the interview.

Interests and hobbies

Some of the most effective CVs written by recent graduates include their interests beyond study and work. This is especially true when applying to smaller firms, which will be looking for someone who fits the company’s culture. So show that you’re a human being with a personality and passions.

Keeping your CV updated

It’s important to review your CV on a regular basis, making sure that it includes all skills and experiences, and offers an accurate and positive reflection of you.

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