13 May 2015

How to Set Up A CV

Today I thought I'd share a post on setting up a CV. Maybe it'll be helpful, I know people have different opinions on things like this so taket from it what you want. I've been adding to and updating my CV since I was 16 (that's 7 years now, urgh) and I've not spent much of that time unemployed but I know how much of a bummer it is looking for jobs and I want to help all I can. Just so you know, this is just a regular kind of retail focused one, so all you fancy people with lots of skills, experiences and opportunities will have to adapt.

First of all, CV's are the most boring and obsolete documents you'll ever spend time on. Most jobs these days have their own application process and when you go in store or to physically hand one in it's normally rebuked with a "Oh, we don't accept CVs" - I know, I've been on both sides of this. Even so, I feel having a CV is a good thing to have as a great way to keep hold of your professional accomplishments. Big databases post jobs where all you need to do is send a CV too, so sometimes they can be good.

People always disagree with what a good CV looks like. I'm going to show mine but I am not saying this is the best template or even if it's that brilliant (I've never actually had a position where I've had to evaluate CV's) but this is a starting point if you're completely lost or an example if you're looking to change it up. So here it is:

Within the time it's taken me to actually write and publish this post the version above is actually out of date. Lots of small little things that I have since tweaked since I took the screenshot. More importantly though, I'm just looking at a layout. I was taught that a CV doesn't need to be longer than 2 pages. Thanks to different font sizes and wording though you can literally squeeze so much information on. OR, make it look like more. I've organised it in to different sections which I will go over:
  • Personal information (which I've blacked out. Internet safety, yo)
  • Statement
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Voluntary Work
  • Additional
It doesn't have to be in this order exactly. I think personal information at the start followed by a statement is a good introduction to the document, but its YOUR CV. Do what works for you. And before going in to each part I have to point out how boring and dull that looks. Fun story, gather round kids: I was on Jobseekers for a month or so immediately out of University. My CV before I went in to an appointment had more blue headers and colour but the guy evaluating my CV said it was too colourful. It was literally, just blue. A few blue headers. That was too colourful, too creative. I've kept some because I like to stick it to the man but for the most part I changed it. It's about looking professional. Sure, if you're going for a creative job (which wasn't my sole purpose) then get fancy with your layout but for most standard admin or retail type roles, a minimal simple look will look better. It has to be easy for "them" - our potential employer - to read as they will have read through hundreds if not thousands of applications and the smallest thing can make them reject you off the cuff.

Personal Information

This is the easiest bit of a CV. I have used one line that goes: Full Address. Mobile number. E-mail. That is all she wrote. You could probably put in your Twitter, LinkedIn etc but I haven't bothered.


Writing statements is a ball ache. It's like interviews where you have to big yourself up but not look too cocky. This took me an age to write, and what you write will be completely different. I generally use this to focus on my skills as well as examples where I've used them. To make it a little easier, on a separate document or piece of paper I'd suggest writing down things you've done (everything: school, university, college, any jobs, work experience, extra activities, hobbies) and then skills you've used or learned (organisation, working under pressure, adhering to deadlines etc). Then if you can form them into a sentence, you have won the game. This is where you can personalise it to each type of job too, mine is general but if I wanted to be a chef, this would be the part where I talk about mad baking skills. If you do have a specific job role statement then be careful if you're sending it to a bunch of different job types.


Limit this part to the last five jobs you've had beginning with your most recent or current job and working backwards. I set it up with the job title first, followed by the type of contract (full time, part time, contract, temporary, permanent etc), the start date and end date (or present if still current job) and then the company and address. I feel that it is fine to state just the month (I hate when job applications ask for the exact start date - who can remember that, really?) and I'm also terrible for rounding the month up. For example, Christmas jobs, I normally finish those on the last day of December so I don't see any harm in saying January. For your CV don't list the reason you left or any unemployment time; some job applications ask for both but these are the sort of things where if they ask I'll give it but there's no reason to provide otherwise. 

I then bullet point some of my duties and responsibilities. I keep these short and to the point for ease, I can always elaborate later if needed (I normally do if I have more experience in a different role; like for example, I have gotten so much more experience from my current job at Waterstones than I ever did at my sucky job as a Sandwich Artist - purely because that role was not for me). I always like to show the responsibilities - handling cash, opening or closing the store, doing anything that is normally a managerial role, showing initiative. I limit myself to five bullet points, maximum but that's normally because there isn't much space to write more. Try squeezing similar points together, classic two in oners. I definitely do that. I also like to avoid saying "I did this" or "I did that" because that's kind of obvious - it's your CV. Just be direct about the job role you performed.


Again, starting with my most recent and working backwards. I got my GCSE's and A Levels at the same place then went on to University so I only have two sub-header points. I don't bother writing about extra activity things I did at these places, that is something to save for interviews or to put in to the statement at the start. In this section focus solely on qualifications. To expand this section, which I did when I was younger before I added the voluntary and additional details that I'll get in to, you can always use a new line for every subject. Mine used to be a grid basically. Go crazy with this bit. If you don't have the qualifications yet then put in your predicted grades but make it obvious that you haven't attained this grades yet (so clearly write predicted grades, or for degrees you can put graduating then the year)

Voluntary Work

Volunteering is a great way to get experience if you are struggling to find a paid job. It's also a great way to fill up space if your CV looks bare. Hello, I am guilty of that. It's terrible to do volunteer work  solely "because it will look good on your CV" but that's what I did because that's what people always say. This section is set up exactly like my employment because the skills I attained through volunteering are mostly more relevant than what I experienced as an employee. Ideally, I would have voluntary and paid employment side by side, but my main focus when selling myself as a person who needs a job is "look, I have so much experience". Personally, I think paid experience looks better because someone actually gave you coins to do a job which is why I clearly seperate them. If you don't have a lot of paid work then do jam your volunteer and work experience together. Just make it clear what work was paid work and what was voluntary.

The funnest part of this section is you get to choose your own title. Most the time, somewhere will just take you on as a "Volunteer", get creative with your titles. Was it a research voluntary role: then put Researcher. You were a volunteer in a charity shop then have your title as Retail Assistant. The section is outlining that this work was all volunteer stuff that was unpaid, with the titles you can give a gateway to the type of role you did. Sidenote: I noticed I do just have Volunteer as one of my roles because I did so many things and now I've changed it to the much more impressive "Activity Supervisor" - well look at me go.


This is a section for things that don't fall neatly in to any of the other categories. I have my blog listed here, my exhibitions and that time I did comedy gigs. My blog isn't under employment because I don't get paid for this, but it's still a good thing to show off (sometimes) because this is me organising my time, editing posts etc etc as well as writing about collaborating with the community (be it guest posts, events, or reviewing items you're sent). Also, I put in numbers and stuff: followers, page views etc, and what's good is to round up and say "plus" so that it'll be accurate for at least a month.

My exhibitions were actually part of my degree course but I've created a little pretentious "Artist" slot just to show it off. This section is a free for all, if you can't fit something you did neatly in to another section then plonk it in here. It's a great way to show how well rounded you are as a human being.


I've had CVs with references on and some without. Since I don't have space I leave them off my CV. I've discovered, through many job application processes first hand, that companies give the option to get in touch with references after interviews. I have the belief that at this point the references aren't important, if I look like an impressive person to hire then surely they'd go for an interview first to double check I'm not a murderer or weirdo, you know? I mean if you have space and two references, then yeah stick them on saying they are available on request but I'd leave off their personal details just in case. You should always have two, even if it's just two teachers because you've never had a job before. There are a lot of sources as who makes a good reference and who doesn't so do think carefully before nominating someone.

I don't often do a lot of these helpful posts because they are so long and I don't know how much help I can be. I'm trying. If you have any further questions or think I missed something then drop a comment or even an e-mail. I'll try and help with any questions you have, and if I can't answer them I'm sure there will be somewhere on the internet we can find together.

 photo fiona_zps1032f091.png
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  1. My CV is like... really close to yours. My sister help me made it better and since then, it looks a lot like yours and I haven't ever seen yours before, hahaha.

    I think CVs are the worst kind of document ever. You're supposed to sell yourself to companies with a paper with letters on it. It's like... Hello, I'm much more than what a paper says to me, I'm a person, not a robot or a computer. But still, they seem to be necessary for life. Ugh.

    I do like how you help people about CV, it's such a hard thing to do and nobody ever teach you how to do it. Hope this will help someone out :)


    1. YES, its really frustrating having to put all your life and experiences on two A4 bits of paper. I hope it helps someone too

      Thanks for the comment :)

  2. What a great idea for a post! Setting up a resume/CV is such a pain. That Jim pic is a perfect explanation of it. This is a super helpful tool!

    1. Thank you! I literally search head desk to find the perfect picture ;)