How to Write a Resume

How to write a resume or CV in seven easy steps


A lot of people ask how to write a resume or CV. Whether you’re a school leaver or just haven’t applied for a job for a long time, it’s useful to know where to start.

Do you need a different CV or resume for every job you apply for? Probably. But that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch every time.

Think of your CV as a cake and your experience and qualifications as the ingredients. You don’t have to use every ingredient in the same quantity to make every kind of cake. Some will need chocolate and cherries, but others will call for jam and cream.

It’s the same with tailoring a CV – one time you might want to highlight your attention to detail, another time your influencing skills, depending on the job you’re applying for.

Follow these easy steps to create a good CV which you can tweak according to the job you’re applying for.


1:Type these headings into a document

    1. Contact Details
    2. Key skills/experience/achievements
    3. Work Experience or Employment
    4. Education and Training
    5. Personal
    6. References


2:Write in your contact details

Under the first heading type in your:

  • name
  • address
  • telephone number(s)
  • email address

Tip:Use a professional sounding email address. Nearly 90% of recruiers are put off jokey ones.

3.Key skills/experience/achievements

Personal statements have fallen out of favour with recruiters recently, as they are often stuffed with random adjectives from the job description like ‘dynamic’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘creative’ and so on, which rarely reflect the actual traits of the applicant. In fact, it’s usually the opposite.


Instead, write between three and five bullet points of the key things you want the employer to know about you. You can customise this section to make it relevant to a specific job. Be selective, differentiate yourself and give evidence. This is your ‘snapshot’ in words.

Here are some examples from different CVs:

  • Proven reliability, demonstrated by managing a paper round for three years.
  •  Awarded 2004 Employee of the Year for proposing cost-efficiency measures that saved the company almost 10% of annual stationery costs.
  •  Effectively manage an annual household budget of over £30,000.
  • Ten years’ experience in a call centre environment, including four years as Team Leader.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills developed while managing a team of six professional editorial staff.
  • Presented a key-note speech on ‘The Future of Engineering in Secondary Education’ at the 2009 NUT Conference.
  • Held a senior management position in a Blue Chip company employing over a thousand employees.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to sell yourself a little, even if that isn’t something you’re used to. Worked in a shop for six months isn’t going to grab the attention of many recruiters.

Use achievement words like demonstrated, established, created, delivered, programmed, reduced, wrote and so on.


4:List your employment details

Start with the most recent and work backwards. Write this information for each role:

  • name of employer
  • location
  • from…to… (just the year is fine)
  • your job title
  • a brief (2-3 sentences) description of what the company does and your role in it – for example:
    • ABC Foods is a major national distributor of frozen food with a 450 employees. Reporting to the HR Manager, oversee the day-to-day administrative tasks of the HR department, including booking travel arrangements.
  • your major achievement(s) in this role, for example:
    • Standardised computer filing system, cutting employee time spent searching for HR policy documents. 
  • If you prefer, and if you are applying to a job that is very similar to the one you are writing about, you can list your responsibilities instead, for example:
    • Responsibilities included booking flights and hotels for international conferences, liaising with the finance department over expenses forms, updating spreadsheets and policy documents.

At this stage list everything you’ve done, with more detail on your most recent roles if you have a long work history. When you apply for a particular job you can edit the list according to what is most relevant, ensuring you don’t go over two pages.


If you are new to the job market, write membership of societies, voluntary work and so on as if they were jobs, giving name of the club/society and the title of your role if applicable.

If you are a returner, or have large gaps in your work history you need to show that you haven’t just been lolling in front of daytime TV for ‘X’ years. Anything that has kept your social and organising skills up to date, such as membership of the PTA, organising a reading group, voluntary work or participating in a neighbourhood watch scheme are all relevant examples.


5:Write in details of your education and training

As with employment history, start with the most recent and work backwards. Detail the following:

  • name of university/college/school e.g. Bradford University
  • location (if it isn’t mentioned in the name)
  • from…to…
  • qualifications achieved
  • You can include on-the-job training in, say, customer service, personal development, sales and so on.


6:Write your personal details

Employment law can be confusing regarding details like marital status, gender and date of birth. The safest option is to omit these details unless specifically asked for them. Do say if you have a clean, current driving licence, and anything else that is relevant to the job you are applying for.


Otherwise include some interests and hobbies to add some colour here, but don’t go mad. Swimming, tennis and painting is fine.


7:What about references?

Most people write References available on request here, unless specifically asked to provide them. Be prepared to provide them quickly though – I once had an agency call and ask for references urgently the same day I sent them my CV. It’s a good idea to contact potential referees in advance to ask their permission.


For sample CVs, career and job-search advice, check out the free resources at the personal development cafe website.

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