Getting a good role can be tough in today’s competitive job market, but having a strong traditional CV format will make it much easier.
This guide will show you how to write a winning CV, and even includes a Traditional CV example to help you get started.
- Traditional CV example
- Structuring and formatting your CV
- Writing your CV profile
- Detailing work experience
- Your education
Traditional CV format example
This is a good example of a Traditional CV which contains all of the information that a hiring manager will need to know, and presents it in a well- structured, easy-to-read manner.
Take some time to study and understand this CV, and refer to it throughout the writing of your own CV for best results.
Traditional CV structure and format
The format and structure of your CV is important because it will determine how easy it is for recruiters and employers to read your CV.
If they can find the information they need quickly, they’ll be happy; but if they struggle, your application could be overlooked.
A simple and logical structure will always create a better reading experience than a complex structure, and with a few simple formatting tricks, you’ll be good to go.
- Length: Think that submitting a five page CV will impress recruiters? You’re wrong! Even if you’ve got tons of experience to brag about, recruiters don’t have time to read through overly detailed CVs. Keep it short, concise and relevant – a CV length of 2 sides of A4 pages or less is perfect.
- Readability: Columns, lists, bullet points, bold text and subtle colour can all help to aid the readability of your CV. Your overarching goal should be to make the content as easy to read and navigate as possible, whilst also aiming to make your key skills and achievements stand out.
- Design: It’s generally best to stick to a simple CV design, as funky or elaborate designs rarely add any value to your application. A clear, modern font and a subtle colour scheme work perfectly and allow your skills, experience and achievements to speak for themselves.
- Avoid photos: It’s tempting to add a profile photo or images to your CV, especially if you’re struggling to fill up the page – but it’s best avoided! They won’t add any value to your application and, as are not a requirement the UK, so recruiters do not expect it, or want to see it.
Structuring your CV
As you write your CV, divide and sub-head into the following sections:
- Name and contact details – Always start with these, so employers know exactly how to get in touch with you.
- CV profile – Add a short summary of your relevant experience, skills and achievements, which highlights your suitability.
- Core skills section – A 2-3 columned list of your key skills.
- Work experience – A detailed list of any relevant work experience, whether paid or voluntary.
- Education – An overview of your academic background and any training you may have completed.
- Hobbies and interests – A brief overview of your hobbies and interests, if they’re relevant (optional).
Now I’ll guide you through exactly what you should include in each CV section.
CV Contact Details
Make it easy for recruiters to get in touch, by heading your CV with your contact details.
There’s no need for excessive details – just list the basics:
- Mobile number
- Email address – Use a professional address with no nicknames.
- Location – Just write your your general location, such as ‘London’ or ‘Cardiff’ – there’s no need to put your full address.
- LinkedIn profile or portfolio URL
Traditional CV Profile
Your CV profile (or personal statement, if you’re an entry-level applicant) provides a brief overview of your skills, abilities and suitability for a position.
It’s ideal for busy recruiters and hiring managers, who don’t want to waste time reading unsuitable applications.
Think of it as your personal sales pitch. You’ve got just a few lines to sell yourself and prove you’re a great match for the job – make it count!
Tips for creating an impactful CV profile:
- Keep it brief: The best CV profiles are short, sharp and highly relevant to the target role. For this reason, it’s best to write 3-4 lines of high-level information, as anything over might be missed.
- Tailor it: Before writing your CV, make sure to do some research. Figure out exactly what your desired employers are looking for and make sure that you are making those requirements prominent in your CV profile, and throughout.
- Don’t add an objective: If you want to discuss your career objectives, save them for your cover letter, rather than wasting valuable CV profile space.
- Avoid cliches: “Determined team player who always gives 110%” might seem like a good way to fill up your CV profile, but generic phrases like this won’t land you an interview. Recruiters hear them time and time again and have no real reason to believe them. Instead, pack your profile with your hard skills and tangible achievements.
What to include in your Traditional CV profile?
- Summary of experience: To give employers an idea of your capabilities, show them your track record by giving an overview of the types of companies you have worked for in the past and the roles you have carried out for previous employers – but keep it high level and save the details for your experience section.
- Relevant skills: Highlight your skills which are most relevant to your target jobs, to ensure that recruiters see your most in-demand skills as soon as they open your CV.
- Essential qualifications: If the jobs you are applying to require candidates to have certain qualifications, then you must add them in your profile to ensure they are seen by hiring managers.
Quick tip: Your CV is your first impression on recruiters, so it’s vital to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes. Use a free writing assistant tool to check over your CV before hitting send.
Core skills section
Underneath your profile, create a core skills section to make your most relevant skills jump off the page at readers.
It should be made up of 2-3 columns of bullet points of your relevant skills.
Before you do this, look over the job description and make a list of any specific skills, specialisms or knowledge required.
Then, make sure to use your findings in your list. This will paint you as the perfect match for the role.
Work experience/Career history
By now, you’ll have hooked the reader’s attention and need to show them how you apply your skills and knowledge in the workplace, to benefit your employers.
So, starting with your most recent role and working backwards to your older roles, create a thorough summary of your career history to date.
If you’ve held several roles and are struggling for space, cut down the descriptions for your oldest jobs.
Structuring your roles
Lengthy, unbroken chunks of text is a recruiters worst nightmare, but your work experience section can easily end up looking like that if you are not careful.
To avoid this, use my tried-and-tested 3-step structure, as illustrated below:
Begin with a summary of your role, detailing what the purpose of your job was, who you reported to and what size of team you were part of (or led).
Use bullet points to detail the key responsibilities of your role, highlighting hard skills, software and knowledge wherever you can.
Keep them short and sharp to make them easily digestible by readers.
Finish off by showcasing 1-3 key achievements made within the role.
This could be anything that had a positive effect on your company, clients or customers, such as saving time or money, receiving exemplary feedback or receiving an award.
After your work experience, your education section should provide a detailed view of your academic background.
Begin with those most relevant to Traditional jobs, such as vocational training or degrees.
If you have space, you can also mention your academic qualifications, such as A-Levels and GCSEs.
Focus on the qualifications that are most relevant to the jobs you are applying for.
Interests and hobbies
The hobbies and interests CV section isn’t mandatory, so don’t worry if you’re out of room by this point.
However, if you have an interesting hobby, or an interest that could make you seem more suitable for the role, then certainly think about adding.
Be careful what you include though… Only consider hobbies that exhibit skills that are required for roles in your field, or transferable workplace skills.
There is never any need to tell employers that you like to watch TV and eat out.
Writing your Traditional CV
A strong, compelling CV is essential to get noticed and land interviews with the best employers.
To ensure your CV stands out from the competition, make sure to tailor it to your target role and pack it with sector-specific skills and results.
Remember to triple-check for spelling and grammar errors before hitting send.
Good luck with the job search!