5 Steps to a Winning CV Structure

By Andrew Fennell

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When you present your CV as part of a job application, you’re summarising your entire professional career and skillset on two small pages.

Unfortunately, you’re normally doing this alongside countless other skilled applicants, so your CV needs to stand out for the right reasons.

In this article, we'll cover 5 simple steps to a winning CV structure. Follow these steps to give yourself the best possible chance of landing that dream job interview.

Keep it brief

You have a lot of information to share with a hiring manager, but you need to present it in a way that suits them. That hiring manager could be reading through hundreds of CVs and have no time to waste – they want to find the information they’re looking for fast.

Avoid using big chunks of text and keep your CV limited to two pages maximum. This will help you to create a high impact, dynamic CV, with the details of your experience and skillset easy to locate.

Lead with a punchy profile

Your CV profile is the section at the top of the first page. It’s crucial that after reading it, the recruiter is hooked and wants to find out more about you. Again, keep it short, but make sure you include some high-level details about your most important skills and experience.

Be sure to sell yourself and create some excitement in the text. Use some persuasive language and match your content up to the job description, to let them know straight away that you’re a perfect fit for the role.

Add a core skills section

The list of your core skills should come immediately after the compelling profile above it. This is your chance to tailor your CV to the advertised role and re-iterate how well suited you are to it. It adds to the big first impression you’ve already made and shows that you can communicate effectively, too.

Everything you’re doing so far is creating a structure which highlights the most important information in a clear and simple way.

Structure your roles for ease-of-reading

It’s essential that your descriptions of previous and current roles are also easy to read and use a consistent structure. Explain your most recent role in more detail than older roles, making sure to specify how your work benefitted the business.

Begin with an outline that explains what the company did and what your role was within the organisation.

Then, list your key responsibilities in concise bullet points, which detail the work you produced and the tools you used, focusing on your unique skills and expertise.

Next, emphasise this by listing some key achievements made within the role – quantifying these achievements with numbers always helps.

Ensure it is well-formatted 

The final step is a simple one, but it’s also easy to get wrong. Make sure the format and structure of your CV is professional and easy-to-read. Avoid any images or logos and whatever you do, do not use any elaborate texts - or the dreaded Comic Sans! Make sure that everything is consistent and clearly divided into manageable sections, using bullet points and lists where appropriate.

Structure your CV following these 5 simple steps and you’re guaranteed to grab the attention of every hiring manager reading it.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian, and FastCompany.

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