The Ultimate Career Advice Site

The Structure of Your CV


This article will help you to structure and compose a CV that conveys the information you need, and that looks good.

  1. Heading

The heading is your contact information presented at the top of the CV.  It is not necessary to put the title “Curriculum Vitae” or “CV” at the top of the page.  In the heading include:

  • Name
  • Home Address
  • Telephone
  • Email
  1. Profile

This is probably the most important part of your CV. It is the first thing that the reader will look at, and if it doesn’t grab their attention they won’t read on. So make it good. It needs to explain the key skills you have that are relevant to the role for which you are applying.  It should be a maximum of three sentences.  It supports the credibility of your application and gives the reader an idea of who you are before they read halfway down the page.  The profile normally includes some or all of the following:

  • Your experience in the field into which you are selling yourself..
  • Areas of business or industry in which you worked.
  • Outstanding aspects of your work.
  • Relevant skills.

The profile answers the questions:  “What are two or three most important facts I want the reader to know about me?”

Whatever you say in the profile should be supported by evidence in the career history that you will write below. Avoid generalisations and adjectives like ‘committed’, ‘enthusiastic’ ‘dynamic’. They are easy to say but difficult to prove.

You can also include as part of the profile a career objective – a sentence showing the type of role you are looking for – but generally it is better to leave this for the covering letter.

  1. Key Skills or Achievements

Depending on the CV format that you have chosen, the next section will list out either your top skills or your top achievements. These should be in bullet points with brief evidence of the work you have done that support your assertions.  These bullet points should ideally be tailored to the job applied for so that you can maximise the impact of the first half page of your CV.

  1. Career History

This is an account of your experience that includes the names of companies, your job titles, dates of employment and the specific achievements that you attained in each job..

  • List your work history in reverse order, starting with current job and giving the name of the company, department, your job title and the dates of employment.
  • If your title is specialist to that company or department, use a functional title or explanation in brackets.
  • Emphasize the company names by underlining them, capitalizing them, or printing them in bold characters.
  • Put your employment dates, showing month and year.
  • Concentrate on the most recent jobs and summarise earlier jobs.
  • Add one or two sentences that summarise the role in terms of its scope: area covered, number of staff, budget responsibility etc. Be concise.
  1. Education

In most cases this section should be brief, with one line of type for each academic or vocational qualification you have received. Include relevant training courses that you have been on. However, if you are applying for an academic post, or if you are a school leaver or graduate without any significant work history, then this section should be promoted above the Career History section.

  • List your highest qualification first.
  • Give the date, the name of the institution or school you studied at, the subjects you studied and the qualifications you obtained.
  • Include formal education qualifications and training programs that are directly related to the job you are applying for.
  • Be concise and relevant. For example, if you are 50 years old with a PhD, don’t bother to list your A level or GCSE grades.
  • If you are currently studying, list the study details and then write in progress.
  1. Your Interests and Hobbies

This is possibly the most overlooked of all sections on most CVs. Yet it tells the reader so much about you. You probably won’t have a lot of space left by this stage b ut it is well worth setting out your hobbies and interest in such a way as to make the reader feel you are an interesting person and well worth meeting. Include your voluntary activities, sporting achievements, sponsored events and charitable fund raising.

  1. Additional Data (Optional)

If you have any relevant technical or specialized skills this is the place to list them. But don’t list irrelevant skills just for the sake of it; it takes up valuable CV space and tells the reader nothing.

Memberships or affiliations that are relevant to the position you are seeking may also be included.   You may also want to include pastimes and interests that are relevant.

  1. What Not To Include

You don’t need to mention whether or not you have a driving licence, nor how many children you have, unless it is relevant to the job. Nor should you include references. That can come later, once you offered the job.