Struggling to write your cv?
It is always helpful to begin with a cv or resume outline which will give you the basic structure you need.
It is very tempting to just dive in and start writing, but if you take the time to do a bit of planning, you can be sure that the result will be much better.
CV and Resume Outline
Here are some resume writing tips that focus on the most important headings you should include in your resume. Under each one, I will make suggestions about what you should include and other things to consider.
Don’t miss out any of the obvious basic information – you’d be surprised how many people do!
- Use the one you want to be known by at work.
- Make this the heading of your cv. Don’t put ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘Resume’ at the top – they can see what it is!
- This is to ensure that they can contact you by post easily.
- If you know you will be moving, put your new address to with the dates.
- If you don’t know your new address, use the address of a reliable family member or friend (with their permission of course!)
- Include a mobile/cell and a landline number if you have both.
- Remember that you have given out your number to a potential employer, so think about how you answer the phone. First impressions count!
- Absolutely essential.
- Think about what your email address says about you – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com may not make the impression you want!
- Set up a new address if need be – but remember to check it regularly!
- Do you have your own website? This is not really a requirement for your cv or resume unless you are applying for IT jobs where you need to demonstrate your web authoring skills.
- If you can create a website, it can be a great addition to your cv where you can give much more information about yourself than you ever could on a couple of sheets of paper.
- But make sure that it is a smart, business-like site. Avoid jazzy colurs and flashing headings!
And generally, you don’t need to bother with…
- Date of birth
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Driving license
- This is where you talk about your career objectives. Explain the career area or job you are aiming for – you need to show that you have a clear sense of direction.
- Focus on what you have to offer as an applicant, but be careful that it doesn’t turn into a hard sell.
- Make sure that what you have to offer matches what the employer is looking for – you have researched that, haven’t you?
- You can grow or shrink this section in your resume outline according to your situation. In most cases – unless you are going for an academic job – your education becomes less relevant as your work experience builds up.
- You will normally list your qualifications and where you gained them in reverse order. The most recent is usually the highest level and therefore worth giving the most emphasis.
- You may choose to call this section Education and Training if you want to draw attention to professional courses you have taken.
- This section can be particularly useful if you are changing career and you have done some relevant study or training to prepare you for your new career area.
- If you have a lot of work experience, this section can appear after your employment.
- This is another section that will vary according to what you are trying to achieve.
- At its simplest, just list your employment in reverse order, giving the dates, the name of the company and your job title.
- Make sure that you highlight duties and skills gained that are relevant to what you are now applying for.
- If this is a career change resume, you may wish to re-sequence your work experience to highlight the work that is most relevant first. You could split the section into Related Experience and Other Experience.
- This part of a cv or resume outline may be omitted if you are short of space. This could be the case if you already have a range of work experience to present.
- However, the main benefit of this section is that it shows another aspect of who you are.
- If you are a career changer, this could be where you have been developing relevant skills and experience to back up you plan to switch direction.
- Don’t just make this a list of ‘hobbies’ – make sure that you say why you are involved and what skills you have gained from these activities.
- You would normally include the names, job titles and contact details of two referees here.
- Make sure that you have asked their permission and explained to them what you are applying for so that they write an appropriate reference.
- If you are short of space, you can write ‘references available on request’.
CV and Resume Outline
Don’t feel you have got to stick just with the main headings I have mentioned above. Remember that they key purpose of a CV or a resume is to highlight what you have to offer. This means if you need to create a new heading for your resume so you can promote something interesting or different that you have done – go ahead!
Here are some additional headings that you might build into your cv or resume outline. Use them only if they are relevant to your situation.
- Professional Skills
- Technical Skills
- Experience Abroad
- Voluntary Work
- Honours and Awards
- Professional Memberships
But feel free to create other headings for your outline, if they fit what you want to draw attention to. Make the cv your own!
I hope that this resume outline will help you get started with your cv or resume writing, whether you are working from scratch or updating an existing cv for your planned career or job change.