How to Create the Perfect CV Layout

3 minute read

Having a powerful, well-structured, and easy-to-read CV is essential if you want to land your dream charity role. Use the following guide to create the perfect CV layout and land those all-important interviews.

Use a Simple Format

One of the most off-putting mistakes that you can make when writing a CV is to use a complicated format or bizarre design. Ignore any advice that tells you that a ‘unique’ CV will catch the attention of an employer—while that may work in the creative industries, recruiters in the charity sector are looking for responsible employees with concrete skills and a solid profile. Your CV should be plain, easy to read, and structured in a way that highlights your core skills and recent work experience.

Put your name and contact details in the header

It’s important to leave your name and contact details on your CV, so that potential employers can get hold of you for an interview. With space on a CV being limited, you should place your contact details at the top of the page as a header, or in the top left or right corner of your CV. Don’t add your contact details as their own section—you’re wasting valuable space.

working on perfect CV layout for charity sector

Add a powerful profile and core skills section

Add a powerful profile and core skills section
Recruiters in the charity sector aren’t simply looking for someone with a basic professional profile, they’re looking for individuals who are passionate about their charitable cause. You should structure your professional profile in the following way:

Professional Profile: Sitting at the top of your CV, this section will consist of a small paragraph where you can sell yourself as the ideal candidate—this section should summarise your most suitable skills, as well as your interest in the charitable cause. Don’t talk about your work experience in detail here—give an overview of your professional interests, competencies and your passion for the charitable cause, along with any relevant successes.

Core Skills: Your core skills should be listed in bullet points to make things easy for the recruiter. You should format this section as follows:

Example of core skills on a CV

For example:

Example of an events manager personal profile

When writing your core skills, think about what a charity job demands. Unlike a traditional 9-5, charity jobs can involve unsociable working hours, last-minute plan changes, and dealing with the public. Tailor your skills to fit this profile: highlight your adaptability, your competence at working in a public-facing role, and your ability to work under pressure.

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Structure your roles for easy reading

Long sentences and chunky paragraphs are a big no when it comes to any CV, and this rule applies to charity sector jobs. You should structure your roles in the following format to ensure easy reading for the recruiter:

Role: Your job title and the organisation you worked for
Outline: Your overall job description; who you report to on a daily basis, what department you belonged to, what ‘overall’ task you were in charge of
Responsibilities: Here, you can go into further detail about your tasks and responsibilities on any given day; employers in the charity sector will be looking out for evidence of your core skills: your adaptability, teamwork, expertise, and experience in similar working environments.

To reiterate, when writing out your former roles on your CV, avoid long paragraphs and write everything out in bullet-point form where possible. You want the reading experience to be as easy as possible for the recruiter, so offering bite-sized, memorable information is preferable.

woman writing in notebook with laptop on her lap and cat watching her

Round off with your education

You should finish off your CV with your educational background—you’re not obliged to list all your GCSEs or A-Levels, but you should include qualifications that are relevant to the job. If you have a lengthy, diverse educational background, only include what’s necessary and relevant to the job. You should list relevant educational achievements in reverse chronological order, using the format in the example below:


2013 – 2016: [Name of University] | BSc, Nursing

2012 – 2013: NVQ, Social Care | Level X

2010-2012: 3 A-Levels | AAB

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Only add hobbies if relevant

Most recruiters aren’t going to be interested in your hobbies—however, if they are related to the charity or cause you’re applying to, it could be beneficial to include them. If your hobbies include volunteer work related to the charity (or cause) you’re applying to work for, you should include this, although it’s up to you whether you put it in your ‘work experience’ section or ‘hobbies’ section. Otherwise, leave generic hobbies off. Your CV should be streamlined and structured in a way that conveys a message about your professional profile; adding “Cinema and Netflix” might dilute that message.

So now your CV is perfectly laid out, don’t forget to check out other roles available in the sector. CV longer than two pages? Check out our advice on how to cut it down.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and the Independent.

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