CVUltimate CV Series layout & planning

Thanks for joining me again. Now we’ve reached the exciting bit! Today we’re going to focus on getting started with the plan and layout of your CV.

No idea what I’m wittering on about? Then you’ve missed one or both previous posts. No stress though you can still read them. Because I’m nice and I want you to find them easily here they are: the first post is ‘The What, Why & Purpose of CV Writing’ and the second post ‘Preparation Before Writing a CV’.

I’m nothing if not consistent so we’ll continue the theme and start with a quick re-cap on what we covered in the last post:

  • Where do you want your CV to take you? You need a career plan. You need to know the types of roles this CV will be used for.
  • How do I know what Recruiters want?  You research the roles identified in your career planning. Look at 6 as a minimum and list the key core skills.

You know why your CV isn’t working hard enough for you? Why you’re stuck in the rejection cycle, even though you know you can do the roles you’re applying for?

Put simply CVs are ignored until you need one. Be honest with yourself when you did you ever pay attention to your CV other than when you needed it to work for you?

Have you ever updated it even though you didn’t need it? I thought not. That’s your first mistake. I recommend to my clients that their CV is updated once every 12 months. Then it’s always up to date. So, when you want to use it, you’re not writing it from scratch because you haven’t looked at it for years.

To be fair it’s not your fault. So, don’t look longingly at your out of date CV feeling guilty (laughing emoji here!). Because you’re not taught to give it that focus. It’s not really given the respect it should be at school, college or university. So, is it surprising you don’t realise its importance to you…?

But if you knock one out quickly it won’t work for you and you’ll get stuck in the rejection cycle. It’s not your skills and experience that are the problem but how you are selling them.

So, shall we give a facelift to that poor long neglected CV?

Your CV Career Story

As we discussed in ‘The What, Why & Purpose of CV Writing’ your CV is simply your story. Now is your time to start telling it.

Every writer starts with a layout and plan. A CV works best when you do the same. Just write out all the separate pieces chronologically with no flesh on the bones. We’re just creating the CV layout and plan.

Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t need to be pretty or tidy at this stage.

Look at this way you’re simply dumping your brain to build the foundations.

Each story needs a structure. In a book it’s chapters, in your CV layout it’s sections. Because I want you to succeed, I’m going to give you a list of the sections I use for most of my clients. I’ve even included a brief description of what to put in them at this point.

CV Layout & Plan

Professional Statement

This is one of the most important sections. It’s the first section to be read by the recruiter. So it needs to be spot on!

On that note we’ll come back to this in a later post, simply make a note of the heading at the moment.

Just so you know when I’m working with a client, I normally write this last.

Key Skills

The use of this section is a personal choice. Some people advise not including this section, and others argue for it. Generally the decision is based on why you need a CV.

A key skills section is more important if you’re making a career change for example.

As with the Professional Statement just make a note of the heading and leave it empty for now.

Career History

CV Career HistoryAlso known as work history, career summary, and work experience. At this point you’re creating a list of each of your roles in chronological order. You just need the following information:

  • Company name
  • Location/town
  • Role Title
  • Month & Year
  • A short sentence describing the company

The sentence describing the company is something that is debated. You don’t need to include this, ultimately, it’s your choice.

Why do I suggest it? Because it’s making the life of the Recruiter easier. If they don’t know what that company does and you don’t tell them, they’ll have to go and find out. They don’t really want to do that. Always think about the recruiter what they want/need and how you can make their life easier.

Don’t put anything else under each of your roles yet. Be patient we’ll cover that next week. A whole post dedicated to it just for you. Because it’s worth spending the time on this section, it’s the core element that will sell you.


CV EducationYou just want to put your academic qualifications gained at school, college, university in here.

The focus should always be on the highest qualification. However, some industries need every qualification listed with grades, such as law or accountancy.

Each element should include:

  • institution
  • course name
  • grade if applicable,
  • year of completion.

Professional Development

I so often see this section missed off CVs. Yet your professional development is as important as your education.

You need to demonstrate you’ve worked to develop yourself. Because the recruiter is going to want to see professional development and growth, and an evidenced commitment to this.

Hi Scan Readers (yes, you’re as important as everyone else) here’s what you need to know at a glance:

  • Your Career Story You need to create the layout and plan for the CV by adding the basic information in the following sections:
  • Professional Statement: leave blank and write last
  • Key Skills: it’s your choice if you have this section, leave blank for now
  • Career History: create a chronological list of all your previous roles
  • Education: create a chronological list of all your academic qualifications
  • Professional Development: create a chronological list of all internal and external courses you’ve attended throughout your career

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