How to write a good CV

Your CV is a reflection of yourself, so it’s important that it’s well laid out and looks professional. A good CV will showcase your most relevant skills and experiences, whilst telling Circle Housing why you are right for the job.

Remember – the Hiring Manager will be asking themselves two basic questions:

1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you be the right ‘fit’ for Circle Housing?

Personal Details

It seems obvious, but not everybody does it. Include all of your contact details on the header or footer of each page in case pages of your CV get mixed up. Always include your name, address, telephone number and email address.

It’s an idea to update your voicemail and ensure you check it on a regular basis. Your email address should be as professional as possible (i.e. jimmy.smith@hotmail.com instead of jimmylovescake@hotmail.com) 

Personal Statement

Introduce yourself with a strong positioning statement that sums up your personal and professional attributes. This should ideally state what you have done in the past, what you want to do next and the skills that bridge the two. It should sum up the whole document and explain to the reader why your application is relevant to them. Keep it simple and specific.

Remember that you could be competing against many other candidates so this section should explain what makes you stand out. The rest of this document should provide evidence of this.

Work Experience

Employers are usually interested in your most recent jobs, so try to concentrate on your last two positions – although you might occasionally want to highlight earlier roles, if they are relevant to the role you’re applying for.


  • Start with your most recent position and work backwards
  • Include a job title, start and finish dates, the name of the company/organisation
  • Treat a promotion like a separate position and add the content accordingly
  • List relevant responsibilities, achievements , duties and skills
  • Describe the scope of your job and level of responsibility rather than just listing a job description
  • If you’ve had lots of jobs or a long career, it might be an idea to summarise under headings such as ‘Previous Employers’ or ‘Earlier Career’
  • Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history should be added as required.

Your CV should be a living document. To make the most of it, it’s wise to adapt it to every role you apply for. The more you do to promote your suitability, the greater your chance of success.
  • Mould your CV to our requirements
  • Highlight where your skills match Circle Housing’s needs
  • Point out the value that you could add to Circle Housing

Achievements

List relevant skills and achievements from previous jobs, giving clear examples of how you would apply these to the new role.

Qualifications, Education, Training & Development

  • Usually, these should appear near the end of your CV, but if particular qualifications are essential for this job, include them on the first page in your personal statement
  • Include relevant professional qualifications and academic ones
  • List degrees, giving the subject, awarding body and year – be honest, they may be checked
  • Mention relevant skills such as languages, technology, vocational or on the job training
  • Include any training or skills acquired while unemployed, on sabbatical, or doing part-time or voluntary work

Hobbies and Interests

Try to include if the skills or teamwork concerned are relevant to the job. If you have a particular skill or interesting hobby, it might be an idea to include this too. The Hiring Manager might try to discuss this with you at the interview as an ice-breaker.

How to present your CV

  • Keep it short enough to read quickly and ideally no more than two sides of A4
  • Choose a clear, professional font (Times New Roman, Arial or Courier) to ensure your CV can be easily read
  • Clearly lay out the CV in a logical order with sufficient spacing and clear section headings (work experience, education, etc.)
  • Avoid typing mistakes – make sure you spell check your document and ask someone else to proof read your finished CV
  • Keep the content of your CV concise and jargon free
  • Use short sentences and bullet points (you can expand on these at the interview)
  • Use the past tense to describe your career (‘led a team of…’) and the present tense for your transferable skills (‘offers experience in….’)
  • Quantify outcomes in numbers, not words (‘retained 100% of staff…’) as it’s quicker to read or scan

It’s a good idea to keep your CV up to date, even when you’re no longer looking for work. You’ll be thankful when the time comes and it’ll prevent you from forgetting important dates, projects or successes.

If you follow these simple rules and put all of these tips into practice, you’ll be more likely to impress on the strength of your CV.

Covering Letters

It is courteous and professional to enclose a covering letter with your CV. It should encourage the employer to want to know more about you by making you stand out from other applicants.

The information below will hopefully assist you when drafting your covering letter:

  • Keep your letter to one A4 page
  • Include your contact details at the top 
  • Date the letter and include the reference number
  • If you have a contact name, write ‘Dear Mrs Cruise’ and end with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you don’t have a contact name, write ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and end with ‘Yours faithfully’
  • State what the vacancy is and how you heard about it, for example ‘With reference to your advertisement featured on Guardian Jobs on 14 July…’
  • Explain why you want the job and why you think you are suitable for it
  • Include what you are currently doing and how this is relevant to the job you are applying for
  • Sign your name clearly
  • Remember to include your CV by enclosing it or attaching it to your email