How to write your first CV

Writing a CV is unfortunately not one of the more fun aspects of kickstarting your career. But speak to anyone and they’ll chorus that the hardest part about it is getting started. So rather than procrastinate and panic, the best thing to do is dive in and realise exactly how much you do have to say about yourself!

At Icon Training, we’re experts in career training and employability and we’re here to help. We’ve devised these handy tips to help you on your way:


What needs to be included

The following is a loose structural CV framework. Sections can be swapped around where applicable, but it’s important that the order does not stray too far from the below.


  • Full name, address and contact details

Your personal details will generally sit at the top of the page above the rest of the information. As a general rule, they should be the first thing a potential employer will see.


  • Personal statement

not to be confused with a cover letter, your personal statement is a paragraph summing up who you are, your skills and your reasons for working in your chosen industry. Short and sweet is the aim here.


  • Employment history and work experience 

Your employment history needs to be listed in date order, with the most recent at the top. Be sure to include your job title, the company you worked for and the dates you worked there, as well as some background into your key responsibilities.


  • Education and qualifications

As above, your education needs to be listed in chronological order, most recent first. Include the institution you attended, the dates that the course/classes ran and the grades you achieved.


  • Skills

This is your chance to add some flesh to the bones of your education and employment history. If you have any particular areas of expertise, this is the place to mention them. If youre adept in relevant software, say so. Just be careful not to embellish.


  • Hobbies (optional)

This isn’t a necessity, but it is a chance to create a better picture of who you are and back up any skills with relatable interests. However, if your main pastime is going down the pub with your mates four nights a week, it’s better to leave this section out.


  • References (optional)

Again, there is no need to add the contact details and names of your references here. We would suggest you add ‘available upon request’ in this space or just leave it out. The employer will know they can contact you for this information whether you list it or not.



Laying out a CV

The above shows you a very basic example of a CV layout. It is a very clear example of one of the most important facets of CV writing – digestibility.

If you confront employers with a wall of block text, your CV is going in the bin. Ensure that your CV looks clean, uncluttered and conscise.

Other layout points to consider are:

  • Space – don’t go over two pages of A4. Recruiters don’t have time to sift through it all
  • Avoid overdesigning. Keep it simple. No over the top colour schemes, ‘quirky’ layouts, background images or over-the-top borders
  • Use a common font, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica. Again, nothing too exciting. Stick to a font size of 10, 11 or 12.
  • Make sure that you use ample paragraphs to break the text up so that it is easy to read.


Dos and Don’ts of CV writing

✓ DO Explain gaps in your employment history to prevent any suspicion

✓ DO Triple-check spelling and grammar.

✓ DO Adjust your CV in line with specific jobs

✓ DO Get a trusted individual to proof read your CV once it’s completed

✗ DO Include your date of birth or a photograph unless it is necessary for the job, for example acting.

✗ DON’T lie or embellish. You will get stung.

✗ DON’T waffle. Short, clear sentences are the way to catch the eye of a potential employer.

✗ DON’T use cliché’s. Goal-driven, excellent communicator, multi-tasker. These are terms that they’ve seen on every CV. Use words like proactive and reliable. More importantly, back up skills with examples.

Icon Training is a multi-award-winning training company. Our aim is to motivate and energise by strengthening learner employability, raising aspirations and building confidence.

Find out more about how we can help you on your path to your dream career: