Career Advice » CVs and Applications » Writing a CV – the basics

Writing a CV – the basics

2nd December 2019

A CV is your document – it is the one aspect of the recruitment process of which you have full control over. It is important when writing a CV to present yourself in the best possible way and make yourself as relevant as possible for the job in question.

Before you begin the process of writing a CV, be aware of some of the basic fundamentals of what makes a good CV:

CV writing tips – basic fundamentals

– Be concise and keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages in length
– Use a clear and easy readable font
– Do not use a font size which is either too big or too small
– Carefully layout the content so it does not look cramped
– Check and double check your spelling and grammar
– When printing – do not fold your CV, but rather post or deliver it in an A4 envelope
– Review and update your CV regularly
– Tailor your CV for every job application

Below is an overview of how your CV should be structured and what should be included within each section:

Name and contact details

These should be written clearly at the top of the document. Include:

– Name
– Address
– Phone number
– Email address

Remember to give a good impression, including your full name and try to include a professional sounding email address without any abbreviations or joke nicknames.

You are not required to provide your date of birth.

A personal profile

This is a short statement at the beginning of your CV. It must be fact based and not subjective waffle like “I am a dynamic team player”. Detail your core experience, your skills, what industry you have operated in and, if relevant, the customers you have responsibility for. Include positive words such as ‘competent’, ‘adaptable’ etc.

Career history

Your career history should be displayed in reverse chronological order – i.e. your most recent job first. Provide details on the dates you were employed at each organisation, together with your job title and the company name.

Against each job you have held, write a line or two about the company, what it makes or service it provides, the turnover and number of employees. This gives your role context.

Following this, detail your responsibilities and achievements within each role. This is the most important element of your CV. For more detail on what to include within this section of your CV, read our guide to writing good content for your CV.


Put education after your career history section unless you have limited work experience. The qualification, year and awarding body should suffice. If you feel a particular module or study is relevant to the position you can also include it.


Unless you do something particularly interesting or have some sporting or artistic achievement, feel free to leave this section out rather than write that you like socialising with friends, long walks with your dog and reading romantic novels. Remember you are trying to make yourself stand out from the other candidates.


You do not need to provide your references this early on in the recruitment process. In most cases, you will be offered a job then asked for references. It is necessary to have at least two referees who can provide a work reference. Ideally one should be your most recent employer.

On your CV, you may simply include a line that informs the reader that referees will be available upon request, although this is not necessary. You should however have your referees’ details available should any potential employer seek them.

Need more advice to perfect your CV? Read our complete guide to writing a CV.

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