Planning your CV

secure an interview cv logo

Planning your CV or resume is very important in ensuring you have covered all of the essential and relevant information on what to put in your CV. Without planning you risk not having the correct structure of your curriculum vitae, and also not applying all of the important information that is required when making a CV and approaching potential employers with your CV profile. When looking for employment or applying to a new position you will potentially be tailoring your CV or making a CV that is bespoke for each and every job application. Although the content may only vary slightly in your resume tailoring, it’s important that you ensure that you’ve planned out the layout of your CV, structure and aspects that require additional content or content removal in your curriculum vitae. Planning your CV is one of the most essential elements to consider when you make a CV and in this article I’ll be discussing how to approach the planning of your curriculum vitae, and how to actually plan the structure of your CV.

To make planning a CV an easy task I’ve broken down the elements to consider into seven main ‘planning factors’:

Plan the size of your CV

I’ve already written an article discussing how big your CV should be, and planning the length of your CV should definitely be one of the first things you consider when planning your curriculum vitae. Fairly straight forward to consider, but the main factor in your decision making should be how many CV pages is the employer or job application coordinator actually going to read? Once you have made a decision on how many pages your CV should be, it’s easier to establish a decision on the other six aspects of planning your CV, particularly about the structure of your CV.

Plan the structure your CV

Structuring a curriculum vitae is not always easy. There’s plenty of different opinion and advice available about this and there’s no definitive answer to structuring your CV because there are good arguments for and against adding or excluding aspects of information about you in your curriculum vitae. Often however the structure is one aspect of CV planning that is very easy to tailor simply because sections structuring your CV can easily be deleted or added. When planning the structure of your CV, one thing’s for certain and that is that using sections is essential. Sections allow you to focus your efforts on particular headings, it shows readers and potential employers what precisely they’ll be reading into detail about and sections are very useful to aid in the flow of your resume. It’s important that your CV is written in sections particularly because readers may be more interested only in certain aspects (sections) of your attributes. It’s a well known talking point in career development that some employers value academic achievements over experience, and vice versa. With sections, an employer can quickly locate the precise information that they want to read in more detail.

Some sections that you may choose to  include when planning your CV are personal details, qualifications, hobbies and interests, work history, achievements, references and projects or work examples. There should be a logical flow of sections in your CV and this is obviously one of the main things to consider in the planning of the structure. If you feel a particular employer for a particular job role would be more interested in your academic achievements, it’s logical to have this section more prevalent and higher up in the section list near the top of the resume. Generally speaking the structure should have your personal details at the top of the CV, with hobbies and interests, as well as references at the bottom of the CV. Everything else between should be listed in accordance to what you feel will be most suitable to the employer.

Here is a CV example that uses clear sections. Although the order of the sections is questionable, it’s very clear to the reader what they will be reading, before they read it. It’s a great example of how to apply a structure using sections to your CV.

Good CV Structure Layout Example

Plan the level of detail in your CV

The level of detail that you will write in your CV is rather important. This is obviously dictated to a degree on how big you have decided to make your CV, this also applies the other way around. If you’ve decided that you’d prefer to be very detailed in your CV or work history descriptions when planning your CV, it’s likely that you’ll have a larger CV. Some people advise to just detail all aspects of your experience in your CV however this could potentially be a massive waste of time to you and of course the reader. The reader will only be interested in certain things when reading you curriculum vitae and often the level of detail in your CV sections should concur to the items that are of most interest to the employer or reader. You may choose to put a very brief description of your work history that is ‘not relevant’ to the job and extensive detail in the jobs that are most relevant. Similarly, you may choose to be more extensive in your describing of qualifications if you feel the employer is more interested in your education – if you’re applying for a job that requires little experience, you may choose to do exactly this.

Plan how formal/informal your CV is

In the majority of cases you’ll be applying a very formal approach to your curriculum vitae, that’s because in a vast number of circumstances you’ll need to be professional and formal in the job role itself, and the professionalism and formal look / content of your CV will reflect on you. From time to time, it may be necessary for a person to take a more informal approach to the CV in some way. This may be because the position that you are applying for is a more creative or informal role, or that the responsibilities in the job are less ‘professional’. It also may be the case that within the job description the author mentions about a relaxed atmosphere of work or that the right person for the job should be ‘personable’. It’s all down to judgement and of course there is no absolute black and white correct answer to how formal your CV should be, but taking a view on considering how formal or informal your resume profile should be could be the difference in you securing an interview or not.

If you’ve decided to have a less formal curriculum vitae, you’ll no doubt need to consider to what degree you should make it informal. It’s never a good idea to overdo it, as each and every single employer will require a base level of professionalism and formality. Here are a few things you may decide to add for a more informal CV content:

  • A slight/subtle element of humour in the resume
  • A more informal, talkative description of job experience
  • More daring aspects of your hobbies and interests
  • A description of elements of past experience that were more informal

Remember to take each job application on it’s own merits. Tailoring how formal your CV should be really could make the different, but can be risky. If you are in doubt over this, it’s probably a good idea to air on the side of caution and be more professional.

Plan the CV according to job purpose

You’ll inevitably be sending a curriculum vitae to someone who will be wanting to see key phrases and keywords in the resume profile. The reader will be reading the CV with the intention of making a decision about whether or not to interview you and so it’s important that you plan the CV according to the job purpose. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time but can make a massive difference on the success of your application. What I’d recommend is to spend a few minutes at the start and end of your CV tailoring to read through the CV with intentions of picking out the keywords of the job you are applying for. It may be the case that there are already many keywords in your resume in which case you’ve already got a pretty good CV in accordance to the job you’re applying for. If not, you need to pick out the most important keywords and phrases and implement them in your resume. Below is a job description for a sales position available at Manchester United:


Sample job description for sales position - locate the keywords and add them to your tailored CV

The key section of the job description is the ‘What we’re looking for:’ section. If you were applying to this position, to improve the likelihood of securing the interview, you’d be best advised to take the key items that they are looking for and add them into your CV in the logical section in your CV (likely to be profile, professional summary or work experience sections). In this example you’d be looking to add ‘account management’, ‘persuasive’, ‘confident’, ‘negotiating’, ‘working with customers’, ‘building relationships’, ‘good presentation skills’ and ‘good customer service’ etc.

Final thing to note about planning your CV according to job purpose is that it’s only advised to add keywords and phrases if you have ACTUAL EXPERIENCE/CHARACTERISTICS in the areas they’re mentioning they are looking for, otherwise you could end up in a sticky situation in the interview, if you even make it that far!

Plan your CV by setting out a path for content writing

Often you will have a curriculum vitae that is a fairly standard CV, with all the key aspects about you and your experience and with each job you apply for you’ll tailor this version to the job specification / company you’re applying for. Planning your CV by setting out a path for what content you’ll write in which order is a fantastic idea for ensuring you stay motivated when writing your CV, and as such will help to make your CV content written to a higher quality. When applying for a new position, I’ve frequently set out a path to write say the first two sections, then take a break, then write the next few sections, then break again, then write the final sections. You may wish to do the same as this will certainly ensure quality, however it’s of course wise to do once you’ve made a decision on the other points above.

Plan the CV content based on the reader

It’s very important to take one last read and review of your CV read from the readers perspective, particularly when you’ve finished the final draft of your CV, before submitting to the job that you are applying for. You want to be applying your knowledge of your own qualifications, experiences and competencies to the, hopefully clearly, stated requirements of the job role you’re interested in. Plan the CV content based on your readers requirements and push the readers ‘buttons’. Remember you are only submitting your CV to acquire the interview invitation so you should bare this in mind if you are confident of being able to do the job you are sending CV with respect to.

Related articles:

How many pages should your CV be?

CV Writing Service | CV Review Service

How to layout a CV | best way to layout a CV


About howtomakeacv
Tips | Advice | Help on how to make a CV | Curriculum Vitae | Resume

2 Responses to Planning your CV

  1. One thing is for sure I can never be bored while I am at my keyboard. Especially when I come across posts like this. Thanks for it by the way, great job!

  2. Pingback: How to layout a CV | best way to layout a CV « howtomakeacv

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: