CV Template for a Successful Job Application in 2023
Updated 22 September 2023
A curriculum vitae (CV) is your first chance to impress a potential employer with a comprehensive snapshot of your strengths, skills, accomplishments and experience. To create your CV quickly, you can use a CV template.
Using a CV template ensures that your CV meets an employer's expectations and emphasises the most relevant information about your career. In this article, we'll describe what a CV template is, why it's important, when to use it, what it includes and provide some finished templates and examples.
What is a Curriculum Vitae?
A CV is a document that showcases your experience, education, skills and achievements. This is your first chance to promote yourself to an employer, as many will require you to submit your CV before granting you an interview.
A standard CV in the United Kingdom should be no longer than two sides of A4 paper. If you are a recent graduate, your CV may only take up one page, and that's acceptable. Some academic or medical CVs might be longer, depending on your experience.
Why is a CV template important?
Using an appropriate CV template can help you ensure consistency and professionalism by providing a structured format. It can help you to organise your thoughts and submit a document that contains all the relevant information for a position. A CV for an experienced professional may require a few pages, making a template essential when compiling all the necessary information. To present your entire professional history coherently, you need a document that is easy to utilise and that all potential employers can understand.
Templates are also a convenient place to track your professional history. As you progress in your career, you can update your template to remain current. Using a CV template can also help you save time by giving you a starting point that you can customise according to your requirements and help you stay focused on the essential elements of a CV by recommending headings and content. Most CV templates will utilise impactful fonts and colour styling; this can be useful to take the guesswork out of formatting.
When to use a CV template
CV templates are extremely helpful for individuals with limited experience applying for a role within strict time constraints. It would also be beneficial to individuals who are struggling with formatting their CVs, as most templates utilise effective fonts and styling.
The wide range of industry-specific CV templates makes it easier to tailor your CV to what is expected within the industry you are applying for. For example, people with careers in academia usually have a CV highlighting their technical training and publications more relevant to their line of work, whereas a person applying for a high-level CEO job will want to focus on experience and proof of their management successes.
What to include in a CV template
A CV template includes all information that applies to your profession, although some employers may ask for more information based on the position and level of experience. Here are the sections to include in each CV template:
Including your contact information helps the hiring managers to stay organised. List your name, address and multiple points of contact, such as:
You can also include more personal information, such as your birthday, marital status and nationality. However, under the Equality Act 2010, you do not have to provide any information that may lead to discrimination, harassment or victimisation. If you are applying for a job in another country, however, they may have different requirements. Thus, be sure to check with your employer before providing personal information.
The length of your professional experience section will depend on the industry and position you are applying for. CVs usually include all relevant job details from only the past 10 years. However, you can include impressive achievements outside this timeframe if you feel they are relevant. Working backwards from your most recent position, list the title of your job and your start and end date.
You can briefly describe your duties or simply list the job title to provide a more general overview of your career trajectory. Consider whether the details about what you did in the position will add to your application. If you have extensive experience, you may list only the title to make room for your other accomplishments. However, if you are just beginning your career in a field, you may include details about each job to strengthen your application.
Education and coursework
For the education section, list each institution you attended, the time frame of attendance and the degrees you received. Start with your General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) or equivalent, and continue, noting your degree classification and any other diplomas you've received. You can also include a section on your thesis if you are applying for an academic position.
In this section, share your published works, conference presentations and other research. If you have significant accomplishments in one area, you can split this section into multiple categories for books, articles, research and presentations. If you have only a few publications or presentations, include them in the same category to emphasise your versatility, making no one section of your CV look sparse or unfinished. Use a CV template that allows space for the title of your work and the name of the publisher.
Certification and skills
Every CV template includes a space to share your relevant skills and certifications. Include technical and soft skills that apply to your position to show versatility. Review the other parts of your CV template and think about any special skills you have that are not apparent in your professional or academic history.
Awards are a good way to show your use and perfection of certain soft skills, like teamwork and creativity. They are also great for an entry-level CV with little work experience. Including honours and awards shows that your professional community recognise your skills. List the name of the award and the date you received it. You can also explain the award's impact on your career and what its achievement means to you.
A CV is a holistic view of your entire career, so it's important to use a CV template that provides details about your volunteer experiences. Sharing your relevant community service shows your soft skills in a well-rounded way and shows passion and motivation. This section can be more extensive if you have less professional and academic experience. Share the primary accomplishments you achieved while serving in the role.
If you are a member of any professional organisation, list them near the end of your CV to show your industry connections. Professional organisations show you are directly involved in your field and have relevant community connections.
Interest and hobbies
Relating your hobbies and interests to your professional skills and experience provides a well-rounded view of who you are. When writing this section, consider how your interests and hobbies could make you a more interesting job candidate. For example, if the job requires you to be outgoing or a good team player, sports, such as basketball, volleyball and football, are good hobbies to mention on your CV.
While most CVs share the same basic structure, the organisation and content of a CV depend on the company and position you are applying for. When organising your CV, list the most relevant sections first to catch the employer's attention, whether that is your work history or an impressive list of publications. Here is a general CV template that is appropriate for recent graduates and entry-level positions:
[Name and titles]
[Name of most recent position]
[Start date - end date]
[Name of organisation or employer]
Brief description of job duties
Use short, active phrases and be as succinct as possible
[Type of degree]
[Name of school]
[Date of attendance]
Skills and certifications
Use bullet points to list your skills
List the specific name of your certifications and the organisation that provided the certification.
List relevant awards for this position or industry in bullet points
Use bullet points to highlight any relevant community service
Use bullet points to mention any relevant memberships
Choose specific interests that differentiate you from other applicants
Here is an example CV that you can use as a model when writing your own:
George Hall 82 Queen Street
BA degree in English Literature
University of Bristol
September 2016 - July 2019
The Role of Women in 18th Century Poetry, Arete Journal, 2018: 89-92.
Horror in Romance Novels, Black Static, 2019: 114-117.
September 2019 - July 2020
Documented research output
Surveyed the research literature environment to find a suitable research strategy
Identified best journals for publication and conferences to attend
Winner of Best Short Story at the Bristol Festival of Ideas, 2018
Member of The Royal Society of Literature, 2016-present
Keeps me up to date on the latest trends in literature and what conferences to attend
Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
Frequently asked questions
How to make a CV template that's right for you
First, identify and research your target industry and any specific expectation or standards it requires of your CV. You can research sample CVs in your field to determine the best way to present the required information. The next step would be to compile all your relevant qualifications and experience as well as your background. Spend some time designing your CV, ensuring the fonts are easy to read. You can use things like colour and layout to reflect your personality. Once you have created your desired CV template, it is just a matter of keeping it up to date and tailoring it for specific job applications.
Do all CV templates contain a personal statement section as standard?
Whilst a personal statement can be beneficial, it is not always required. The decision as to whether to include one or not should be based on the industry standard, job requirements and your personal preference. It is a useful addition to your CV if you want to highlight unique strengths or provide context for your career trajectory.
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