Your CV is an essential part of getting a job. It’s the first thing an employer will see of you, so you’ll need to make a good impression. 

Your CV is designed to show why you'd be a good fit for the job you’re applying for. It includes any professional experience and your education. Use it to showcase how you might be a good fit for the company.

Employers receive hundreds of applications for each job so you’ve got to be sure your CV stands out for all the right reasons. 

This lesson will show you how to build your CV, where to get help and support and also provides some hints and tips.


  • What a CV is

  • The key sections

  • The keywords you can use

  • Where to get help

  • Where to find templates

  • Tips on how to create yours

Read time:

13 mins

Chapter 1

What is a CV?

Read time:

3 mins

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae, or CV for short, is a short document used when applying for jobs. It is a summary of your accomplishments and achievements. A CV includes your basic personal information, your experiences, skills, education and your qualifications.


Why is a CV important?

Your CV gives you the best chance to show an employer you’re the right person for the job. It shows your skills and experience in the best possible light. 

Making a good impression is critical in today's highly competitive job market. Your CV will be your first contact with employers or recruiters. It's important to get it right.


The key sections of your CV

You need to include:

  • A personal statement

  • Your work experience

  • Your skills  
  • A summary of your education


Where to start

A good place to start is to think about who is going to create your CV. Ask yourself is this something you can do, or do you need help and support?


Where to go for help:

  • Pay a company – They’ll create a CV for you, but there will be a cost involved
  • Ask friends and family – A cost-effective option if someone has the time and are willing to help
  • Approach other organisations – Who will offer free CV help and support, for example, local charities, Job-Centre Plus
  • Ask colleagues – Current and former colleagues may be willing to offer their time, help and support


Where to find CV templates

There are many places where you can find CV templates to help you create your CV.


You can use:

  • Microsoft Word – There are templates included within the software
  • Online search engine – Go online and use a search engine, for example, use Google to find some templates
  • Job sites – Most have tools on their website to help you create and store your CV
  • Books – There are lots of books you’ll be able to find which talk about applying for jobs and CVs
  • LinkedIn – Has free tools available on their website to use

Chapter 2

Personal statement

Read time:

3 mins

What to include

Your Personal statement gives an overview of your personal profile, experience and ambition. It should be no more than three or four sentences long. 

It gives an employer an introduction to the rest of your CV.


There are three key elements to include:

  • Who you are
  • What you can offer 
  • What your goals are


Using keywords

The words you use in your personal statement are important. Using keywords can help make your CV stand out. Particularly if the employer uses software to search CVs for words/skillsets they are looking for. This is fairly common, with lots of employers getting too many applications to read through all of them manually.


Here are some example keywords:

  • Motivated
  • Creative
  • Organised
  • Ambitious
  • Collaborative
  • Confident
  • Detailed
  • Problem-solver
  • Enthusiastic
  • Dedicated


Personal statement – an example

Personal statement using some of the keywords:

Customer Service Manager with a strong dedication to helping customers resolve issue. With over 5 years of experience, I am well versed in creating a positive image for the companies I represent. I excel in collaborative environments, having a proven ability to listen attentively, solve problems quickly and efficiently, and create high-quality professional relationships with customers.


Remember when writing your Personal statement to:

  • Include the three key elements 
  • Keep your personal statement to between three and five sentences 
  • Use keywords

Activity – your Personal Statement

It can be quite hard to make a start to your personal statement. We recommend you get writing and spend time after thinking how to improve and better tailor to the role.

Take 5 minutes now. Write down keywords that are relevant to who you are and the types of roles you want to achieve.

When you've finished, read through them and then set another 5 minutes to turn into your first draft of your personal statement.

Remember, this personal statement is a generic one. As you start applying, you can use it to create more tailored versions specific to each role.

Chapter 3

Work experience

Read time:

3 mins

What to include as work experience

Include your last 5 years of work experience. You can start with your most recent work experience first. Your latest experiences should always be more detailed than your older ones, they show where your current skills and experiences are.

Do include overviews of your earlier jobs, especially where they show a skill or experience you can’t show in your current or last role.


Include the following details:

  • Job title
  • Name of employer
  • Dates of employment, explain any gaps between jobs
  • Up to six bullet points, which describe the experiences and skills shown or grown in the role


Keywords to use in Work experience

In this section of your CV, there are different keywords you can use to make your CV stand out


Example keywords:

  • Achieved
  • Managed
  • Implemented
  • Led
  • Generated
  • Improved
  • Developed
  • Coordinated
  • Resolved
  • Streamlined


Using keywords – an example

Customer Service Assistant – Drapers Stores (Jan 2020 – Jul 2023)

  • Received four written customer letters of satisfaction in one calendar month
  • Managed the sales desk, helping customers with any queries and sales
  • Achieved monthly sales targets, which increased income by 10%


Let’s break down your work experience. First, list your most recent job, who was the employer and what was your job title? Then write down your start and finish dates.

Think about what you did while performing that role. Write bullet points using keywords to explain what you achieved. Use no more than six bullet points.

Repeat the process for all the jobs you did before your last one and follow the same process. List all the jobs you have had over the last 5 years.

Now you have created your Work experience, let’s look at the next section of your CV.

Chapter 4


Read time:

2 mins

What to include

This is where you list your skills. Your skills should be relevant to the job you are applying for. An employer will be looking to see whether your skills match what they are looking for.

We’ll look at your skills and then see the top skills employers are looking for.

Activity – your Skills

Start your skills list by writing down all the tasks that you can do. For example, using a spreadsheet, working with power tools, nursing, plumbing, handling cash.

Next, list your personal strengths. They could include team working, patience, reliability, being organised or caring. You may want to ask someone who knows you well to help here.

The top 10 skills

A LinkedIn survey revealed the current most in-demand skills. This list will also help you when identifying which skills to include in your CV.


The most in-demand skills are:

  1. Management
  2. Communication
  3. Customer service
  4. Leadership
  5. Sales
  6. Project management
  7. Research
  8. Problem solving
  9. Marketing
  10. Teamwork

Activity – your Skills

Now you have seen the top skills employers are looking for, review your list of skills you made earlier. Are there any you want to add or remove as a result of seeing what employers are looking for?

Chapter 5


Read time:

1 min

What to include

Employers will use this section to check whether you have the right level of education for the role. It’s less important than your experiences and skills, but some jobs will need certain levels.

List and date all your education, including professional qualifications. Place the most recent first. Include qualification type grades and dates. You don’t need to include a grade for each subject. Let’s look at some examples.


Here are some ways you can display:

  • A-levels: Mathematics, Economics and English Language, all Grade C, Bristol Academy, 2022
  • 10 x GCSEs, all passes, Loughborough Comprehensive (2020)
  • 4 A-levels, including English literature and design. Grades A*-C, Doncaster High School, 1980
  • Design Thinking Qualification, LinkedIn Learning, 2019.

Activity – your Education

Let’s start to create your education section. Write down your most recent qualification. Where was it? Was there anyresults? Follow the same process until you have listed all your qualifications.


  • The name of the place you studied
  • When you studied there
  • Any results or grades you achieved
  • Include any relevant online qualifications or learning you’ve done

Chapter 6

Hints and tips

Read time:

1 min

What to keep in mind

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for writing your CV. Your CV needs to be short enough for an employer or recruiter to scan quickly. You need to make the most of the space to get across how you have what they’re looking for. It must be tailored to the role you're applying for.



  • Avoid long paragraphs, try bullet points
  • Include keywords
  • Highlight your successes
  • Proofread, then proofread again
  • Update and refine regularly
  • Always get opinions from others on your CV
  • Your CV should be no more than two pages of A4


Once you have completed your CV, don't assume it's finished. Every job application is different and tailoring your CV so will help it stand out. Tailor it in line with the job description whenever you make a new application. Save this down as a version in case you apply for similar roles in future.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 31st March 2023.