The Ultimate Guide to Building a CV
By Richard McMunn

Chapter 2: The key elements of a CV

The following is a list of information I recommend you include within your CV. Try to put them in this order and remember to be brief and to the point. Make sure you include and highlight the positive aspects of your experience and achievements.
YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS
YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT
YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
YOUR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
YOUR INTERESTS
ANY OTHER INFORMATION
YOUR REFERENCES
Let’s now take a look at each of the above sections and what you need to include.

YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS

When completing this section you should include the following details:
  • Your full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Contact telephone numbers including home and mobile
  • E mail address

YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT

To begin with try to write a brief but to the point statement about yourself making sure you include the keywords that best describe your character. Some effective words to use when describing yourself might include: Ambitious, enthusiastic, motivated, caring, trustworthy, meticulous, sense of humour, drive, character, determination, will to succeed, passionate, loyal, teamwork, hard working. The above words are all powerful and positive aspects of an individual’s character. Try to think of your own character and what positive words you can use that best describe you. Within your profile description try to include a statement that is relative to you and that will make the assessor think you are the right person for the job. Although I have already provided you with one for a retail customer services assistant, here is one for the role of a physical training instructor: “I am an extremely fit and active person who has a great deal of experience in this field and I have a track record of high achievement. I have very good organisational and motivational skills and I am always striving to improve myself. I believe that I would embrace the challenges that this new role has to offer.”

YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

When completing this section try to ensure that it is completed in reverse chronological order. Provide the reader with dates, locations and employers and remember to include your job title. Give a brief description of your main achievements and try once again to include words of a positive nature, such as:
  • Achieved
  • Developed
  • Progressed
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Succeeded
  • Devised
  • Drove
  • Expanded
  • Directed
It is also a good idea to quantify your main achievements, such as:

“During my time with this employer I was responsible for motivating my team and organising different activities.”

YOUR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS

When completing this section include the dates, names and locations of the schools, colleges or universities that you attended in chronological order. You should also include your qualifications and any other relevant achievements such as health and safety qualifications or first aid qualifications. Anything that is relevant to the role you’re applying for would be an advantage.

YOUR INTERESTS

Within this section try to include interests that match the requirements of the job and ones that also portray you in a positive manner. Maybe you have worked within the voluntary sector or have even carried out some charity work in the past? If so, try to include these in your CV as they show you have a caring and concerning nature. You may also play sports or keep fit, in which case you should include these too. If you have any evidence of where you have worked effectively as part of a team then include these also. In order to assist you I will now provide you with some sample hobbies and pastimes and details of how they can improve your CV: Reading – This demonstrates you are an intelligent individual who looks for ways to improve their knowledge of subjects. It also shows that you are capable of relaxing, which in turn improves health. Visiting the gym and playing sports – These demonstrate you a team player as well as having a desire to keep yourself fit. If you keep fit and healthy then you are less likely to take time off sick. Playing a musical instrument – This demonstrates you have the patience and ability to learn something new. It also demonstrates you have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Voluntary work – This shows you have a dedicated and caring nature. Putting voluntary work on your CV is very powerful! Spending time with your family – This shows you are a stable and secure person.

ANY OTHER INFORMATION

Within this section of your CV you can include any other information that is relevant to your skills or experiences that you may feel are of benefit. Examples of these could certificates of achievement from work or school.

REFERENCES

It is good practice to include two references at the end of your CV. Try to include your current or previous employer, providing you know that they are going to write positive things about you. Be careful who you choose as a reference and make sure you seek their permission first prior to putting down their name and contact details. It may also be a good idea to ask them if you can have a copy of what they have written about you for reference later.

Sample CV

Let’s now take a look at a sample CV to explain how it all fits together. The following sample CV has been designed to give you an idea of how an effective CV might look. It has been created with the position of Physical Training Instructor in mind. All of the information provided is fictitious. Although not essential to place it here, you will see that the personal statement has a far better impact if it is placed near the beginning of the CV.

Curriculum Vitae of Richard Munn

Address: 75, Any Street, Anytown, Anyshire. ANY 123 Date of birth: 01/01/1970 Nationality: British Telephone contact: 01227 XXXXX / Mobile 07890 XXX XXX E Mail contact: richardmcmunn@anyemailaddress.co.uk

Personal profile of Richard McMunn

I am an extremely fit and active person who has a great deal of experience in this field and I have a track record of high achievement. I have very good organisational and motivational skills and I am always striving to improve myself. I believe that I would embrace the challenges that this new role has to offer. I am a motivated, dedicated, loyal and ambitious person who has the ability to work both within a team and also unsupervised. I already have a large amount of experience in the working environment and take on a large number of responsibilities both at work, around the home and in my leisure time activities. I am currently the Captain of my local football team and part of my responsibilities includes organising and conducting weekly evening training sessions for the team. For every training session that I run I always try to vary the type of exercises that we perform. This allows me to maintain everyone’s motivation and interest levels. For example, one week I will organise the Multi Stage Fitness Test and another week we will practice tackling and dribbling skills. To conclude, I am a fit, motivated active, organised and professional individual who has a lot of skills and experiences to offer the RAF.

Employment history of Richard McMunn (in chronological order)

Job position/title/company #1 goes here
Date of employment goes here
During my time with this employer I was responsible for motivating my team and organising different activities.
Job position/title/company #2 goes here
Date of employment goes here
During my time with this employer I was responsible stock taking and dealing with customer’s queries and complaints. I also took on the responsibility of arranging the company’s annual staff leisure activity event which often included some form of motivational talk.
Job position/title/company #3 goes here
Date of employment goes here
During my time with this employer I undertook a training course in health and safety and first aid. Part of my role included managing resources and training rooms/equipment.

Academic achievements of Richard McMunn

Health and Safety qualification First Aid qualification Level 1 Physical Training Instructor qualification GSCE Maths Grade C GCSE English Grade C GCSE Physical Education Grade B
Date of achievement goes here Date of achievement goes here Date of achievement goes here Date of achievement goes here Date of achievement goes here Date of achievement goes here

Interests and Hobbies of Richard McMunn

I am an extremely fit and active person who carries out a structured training programme at my local gym five times a week. During my training sessions I will carry out a variety of different exercises such as indoor rowing, cycling, treadmill work and light weights. I measure my fitness levels by performing the multi-stage fitness test once a week and I can currently achieve level 14.5. In addition to my gym work I am a keen swimmer and break up my gym sessions with long swim sessions twice a week. I can swim 60 lengths of my local swimming pool in time of 35 minutes. I am also the Captain of my local football team and play in the position of midfield. I am also responsible for organising and arranging the weekly training sessions. In addition to my sporting activities I like to relax with a weekly Yoga group at my local community centre. I also have a keen interest in art and attend evening classes during the months October through to December.

Further information

Six months ago I decided to carry out a sponsored fitness event in order to raise money for a local charity. I swam 60 lengths of my local swimming pool, and then ran 26 miles before cycling 110 miles all in one day. In total I managed to raise over £10,000 for charity.

References

Name, address and contact details of reference #1 Name, address and contact details of reference #2
You see that the above CV is only 2.5 pages in length, yet it is relevant, concise and provides an excellent overview of the applicants’ skills, qualities and attributes that relate to the post. The key to success when creating a CV is to ensure the CV matches the job you are applying for. The vast majority of people submit a ‘generic’ CV that does not match the role they are applying and is not up-to-date. If you put in a little bit of effort when completing your CV you will greatly increase your chances of success. Remember this rule:

New job application = new CV!

In the next section of this workbook I will provide you with a number of sample CVs to help you gain a better understanding of what makes a great CV.