It is important to say that the structure of your CV can vary greatly depending on what industry you are in, how many years experience you have, the role you are applying for and what country you are looking to work in. Below we will discuss sections that we would recommend you have on your CV, but it is best to speak to your sector specific consultant as to what is best for you and your market. Please remember, the sole objective of a CV is to sell you and your skills to a prospective employer so that they want to meet you in person.
When writing your CV we would general recommend using a word or PDF format. You should also be aware that agencies may have to put a cover sheet on your CV or put it into a specific template for clients and therefore having larges amounts of boxes and formatting can cause problems.
This should include your name, email address, contact numbers and home address. If you are looking to relocate you should mention this here.
A clear professional photograph of you in business attire can be a positive addition to your CV, but is optional
Personal statement (optional)
This section may be a summary of you and your career or perhaps what you are looking for in a new role. It should be no longer that 3 or 4 lines. Be careful about being too specific here as if this describes something different to the role you are applying for your CV might get rejected before interview stage.
This should list the jobs in chronological order starting with the most recent first. If you have had a large number of jobs you might like to reduce the size of each job description; only include the last 5 to 10 years or perhaps summarise the general key responsibilities you have had across your career and list the companies you worked for in that time.
For each job we would recommend you have your company name, job title and dates employed (all in bold type and justified to the left)
Then write a paragraph of between 2 and 5 lines to give the reader an idea of the size and type of company you work for; the department in which you work and then finally what job you do. (You can shorten this section if you only work for a small company, as that may really only have one department).
Then list your key responsibilities in bullet point format, but remember a bullet point is one line long. We would recommend not putting more than 6 or 7 bullet points, so choose them carefully.
Finally you could give a couple of examples of projects you have undertaken at that company. We would suggest 2 or 3 lines about each project including information like size, cost, dimensions, whether it was a new build or refurbishment, materials designed in, the software you used and what your specific input was. If you have completed numerous projects or your CV is becoming too long it maybe better to list your projects in a portfolio or projects list, which can be supplied as an addendum to your CV.
An example of this section for a structural engineer's CV might be:
ABC engineers Ltd
Senior structural engineer
March 2012 to present
ABC engineers Ltd are a multi-disciplined design consultancy with 10 offices in the UK and 5 across Europe. Their projects include design of a variety of building structures including domestic houses, high rise residential, commercial offices, hospitals and schools. I work in the structural engineering department which is 10 people strong and I report to the technical director.
1 high street, London, this was a £2 million refurbishment of a 10 storey office block for a change of use. It required changing the location of structural steel supports through the building. I was responsible for the full design and analysis of the revised structure.
1 high road, Manchester this was a 6 storey, new build, residential building incorporating 5 storeys above ground and one basement. The project was an RC framed structure that was built in situ. I was responsible for the full structural design and analysis element of this project
You can use this section to highlight your top skills you have gained throughout your career, but it should be no more than 5 or 6 bullet points as otherwise you are not listing your ‘key’ skills. You can also list your IT skills in this section or have that is a separate section as described below.
IT and software skills
It is good for employers to know what software you are competent with or had exposure to. We would recommend listing what versions of the software you have used, how many years you have used it and what competency level you believe you reached.
This section is optional, but gives a future employer an idea of your personality and what you like to do outside work.
If you list your references on your CV, recruiters or employers may take these before they speak to you. We would recommend putting ‘available on request’ in this section or not to include it.
Projects list or portfolio (possibly as addendum's to the CV)
Depending on the job you do and the industry you are in, this maybe a very useful addendum to your CV. Here is a chance for you to show example CAD drawings, software analysis screenshots, hand or computer design calculations, 3D illustrations or even video content. It is a great way to highlight and showcase your skills and abilities. A good portfolio is a powerful selling tool if written and presented well, but be careful to check for mistakes.
Things not to include
We would strongly recommend against putting on details of your passport number, national insurance numbers, bank account details or any information that could be used fraudulently. This is especially pertinent if uploading your CV to a online job search platform that might be open to a large number of people.