If you’re ready to write your first professional CV, congratulations! This is an exciting time. You’ve successfully finished university, you’re armed with loads of awesome transferable skills and you’re set to make your mark on the working world. But, where do you start?

The key to writing a winning CV is sticking to a clear format and only including the most relevant information for the job you’re applying to. Alongside this, it needs to show the employer why you’re the perfect candidate for the job and ultimately, encourage them to invite you in for an interview.

With this in mind, our top tips below will explain how to write your first professional CV, so you can crack on with your job search.

Step 1: Pick a format
The traditional (and most common) layout of a CV goes as follows: contact details, personal profile, work experience, education and references. This is ideal if you have experience that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for. But if this is your first professional CV, you might want to lead with your education instead.

silver MacBook beside space gray iPhone 6 and clear drinking glass on brown wooden top
Photo by Bram Naus / Unsplash

If in doubt, check out common CV templates online to familiarise yourself with the different styles available. Alongside this, keep your CV to two A4 pages in length and use an easy-to-read font, such as Arial or Calibri in size 10 to 12.

Step 2: Include your contact details
Place your name, contact number and email address at the top of your CV. While you might see some examples of people using ‘CURRICULUM VITAE’ at the top of their document, this isn’t necessary.

What’s more, you don’t need to include your full address, though you may want to state the town you live in if it will benefit your application. Finally, some candidates like to include a URL to their LinkedIn profile, so feel free to do so if you like.

Step 3: Perfect your personal profile
Your personal profile sits underneath the contact details on your CV. It needs to give a succinct overview of who you are, what your experience is, what you can bring to your next (or first!) role and your career goals.

Don’t go into too much detail – you can save that for your cover letter. Keep it to three or four lines and focus on hooking in the reader. If possible, avoid over-used buzzwords such as ‘hard-working’ and ‘team-player’. This won’t help you to stand out.

Step 4: Showcase your education
As mentioned above, your first professional CV will probably focus on your education, rather than your experience. Particularly if you’ve taken a degree apprenticeship and want to showcase how your university studies complemented your practical workplace experience.

group of fresh graduates students throwing their academic hat in the air
Photo by Vasily Koloda / Unsplash

Include details on the modules you studied and any key skills you gained as a result. Your main selling is point is that you’ve successfully balanced studying with work, which shows that you’re organised, dedicated and hard-working.

Step 5: Highlight your experience
Because you’ve taken a degree apprenticeship, your CV may differ slightly to a traditional university leaver. After all, you’ll have some experience to talk about! Here, you can provide details on your different placements, including the employer’s name, the time spent in each department/company and your key responsibilities during that time.

What’s more, try to pull out any key skills you learned whilst on the job. These should be relevant to the role you’re now applying for, so make sure you cross-reference these skills with the job description.

Step 6: Consider other sections
If you feel as if your CV could do with some extra content, you could consider adding a hobbies and interests section. But don’t just add this for the sake of it. Again, you want it to add value to your CV so only include interests that make you stand out or are relevant to the role.

Alongside this, you might want to include a line at the end, which reads ‘references available on request’. It’s likely that the potential employer will want to read your references before employing you, so adding it in shows you’re aware of this!

Step 7: Proofread, proofread, proofread
Yes this is so important that we said it three times. There’s nothing worse than perfecting your first professional CV, only to fall at the first hurdle thanks to simple spelling mistakes.

man sitting on bench reading newspaper
Photo by Roman Kraft / Unsplash

If in doubt, ask a friend or family member to check the document for you too. Another pair of eyes is always welcome and could prevent any potential issues further down the line.

Perfect your first professional CV
Hopefully you should now be ready to write your first professional CV. Make sure to take this advice on board and spend the necessary time getting it right. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be all set to start applying for jobs – good luck!