Career Management – Structuring Your CV

The next in our series of career management blogs focuses on how to put together a great CV.

Learn from Paddington …..

Paddington always has a marmalade sandwich taped inside his hat in case of emergencies, which is an important principle for career planning. Rather than a marmalade sandwich, always have a current CV … well not taped into your hat, but available when you need it. At no time during your career until you retire should your CV be out of date – you never know when you may need one in a hurry!

Take a look at examples of CVs on the internet if you want some ideas about layout. Keep your CV to two pages and set out the structure with the following headings

  • Personal details
  • Career
  • Education
  • Other information

You can complete the personal details and education sections straight away. The career and other information will take a little more thought.


Focus your employment on the most significant roles (probably the last ten years, depending on your age or whether you have taken a career break) and list all your tasks and responsibilities under each role. For roles in the distant past, just list the title and employer. Don’t leave any gaps, you will need to account for the whole time.

In ‘other information’ you can put anything relevant that isn’t mentioned in another category, such as driving licence, languages, computer skills, any prizes or awards.

Start thinking about achievements ….. and the ‘why is that important?’ question

Let’s go back to the employment section and think about how to state what you have achieved in a compelling way (which is no easy task!). The good news is that it becomes easier once you understand how to do this and have a go at writing some statements yourself.

Put yourself in the role of the reader, who is likely to be a potential employer, who will be looking at how you can help them in the future. When you describe what you have done, you need to think about why you did it, how you did it and the purpose of what you did. This will then start to show you at your best.

So you have to keep thinking about the statements you have made and ask yourself – ‘why is that important?’ and keep asking it until you are happy you have stated it in the most positive way possible.

Write about your achievements in the past tense to show that the work has been completed and delivered (if I told you about my weight loss diet and said ‘I lost a stone’ or ‘I am losing a stone’, which sounds most impressive?)

Think about skills that are used in many roles to stimulate your thinking – skills like customer services, communication, teamwork, time management, problem solving, organisational skills, learning skills, listening and creativity.

So plenty of food for thought! Next time we will look at some examples of powerful statements before you have a go yourself.