If you’re on the hunt for a construction job, having a stand-out CV which accurately reflects your skills and qualifications should be your top priority. This Go Construct guide will provide you with everything you need to know.
What is a CV?
A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a document used when applying for jobs. It is a useful way to summarise your education, skills and experience, enabling you to successfully sell your abilities to potential employers and hopefully land your dream job.
Writing a CV can be stressful – but it doesn’t need to be. Getting started is usually the trickiest part, so let’s get straight into it and explore how to write a CV for a job in construction.
Whether you’re applying for your first job straight out of school or college, or you’re a seasoned professional with decades of experience under your belt, there are some simple tips which should be applied to all CVs:
- Keep it concise – a maximum of 2 sides of A4 should be sufficient
- Write your CV in a Word processer, using a basic font like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri, size 11 or bigger – make sure to use the same style throughout
- Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for
- Use headings, bullet points and spacing to break up information to make it easier to read
- Save the copy you’re going to send to employers as a PDF
- Name the file correctly, such as ‘John Smith’s CV’
- Spell check it, reread it, and get somebody else to read it.
How to structure your CV
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to structuring a good construction CV, but there is certain information that all CVs should include.
Here is an example structure which captures all the information employers want, and is suitable for all experience and education levels.
Your name should be at the top of the document – there’s no need to write ‘CV’ or ‘curriculum vitae’. Below that, you should include:
- Your full address and postcode
- Landline or mobile number – whichever you’re most likely to be reachable on during a working day
- Email address – make sure to keep it professional.
You don’t need to include other details such as your age, marital status, date of birth, nationality etc.
If you have one, you can include a link to your profile on a professional social media site like LinkedIn.
A personal profile isn’t essential, but it’s a good way to introduce who you are, your career aims and key attributes. It is a short statement which aims to prove why you’re suitable for the job, helping you stand out from the crowd. Most importantly, keep it short and snappy.
Keep in mind the job you’re looking for and tailor your profile towards that. For example, if you’re interested in a civil engineering technician role, it will likely involve using some CAD software and designing site plans – so bring out any relevant experience or education you have in this in your profile. It lets the employer know you already have some of the prerequisite skills.
Let’s take a look at an example:
I am an experienced joiner with well-developed skills and experience in groundwork, concrete finishing and steel fixing and have worked in the construction industry since 2012. I am also a skilled labourer who has supported many different trades over the years. I have a full clean UK driving licence with entitlement of up to 7.5 tonne. I am keen to return to work after a period of training and personal development which has broadened my skills and experiences.
This personal profile keeps it short and sweet while avoiding cliched statements. It also provides potential employers with examples of skills and experience they may be looking for. Finally, it can be easily tailored towards a specific job, highlighting different skills as required and letting the employer know which area of work they want to return to.
You can read some more CV personal profile tips here.
Depending on your personal circumstances you may want to put work history next – if you have limited or no work experience, put education here.
In this section you will need to include in most recent order:
- The names and grades of your qualifications
- The school, college or university where you studied
- The dates you attended
If you have limited work experience, this is the ideal place to make yourself stand out from the crowd. If you studied modules at university relevant to job you’re interested in, include them. If you took part in a construction skills competition, received an academic prize or undertook relevant extracurricular activities at college, include it. These things can help set you apart from the rest.
Alternatively, if it’s been a long time since you were in an education setting, keep this section as a simple list of all the qualifications you’ve gained. This will allow you to devote more space to other sections, such as work history.
If you completed a work placement, a traineeship, work experience, etc. this will be better placed under work history.
Arguably the most important section of your CV, this is where you should include work placements, volunteering and any paid jobs you’ve held. You’ll need to give details of:
- The employer, with the most recent first
- The title of the job
- The dates you worked
- A brief outline of what you did.
This section will depend of the level of relevant construction work experience you possess. If you’ve just finished an apprenticeship or traineeship, you can discuss your achievements and skills gained in the same way as a full-time job.
If you’re changing career from another sector, highlight the relevant transferable experience you can bring. If you don’t have the experience, emphasise the relevant skills you do have. Again, the most important aspect is to tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.
When discussing your strengths and skills, use active words such as ‘organised’, ‘built’, ‘created’, ‘managed’, or ‘planned’.
Rather than just listing your duties and responsibilities, giving positive examples of your achievements is a great way to bring your qualities the employer is looking for. The STAR method is a good way to do this:
Situation – Your role in a previous work setting
Task – A time you had you had to use your qualities to complete a specific task or solve a problem. Consider how this relates to a specific quality on the job you’re going for.
Action – How did you complete this task? Use specific examples.
Result – What was the outcome of your action, and how did it contribute to a success story?
Hobbies, interests or achievements
This isn’t an essential section, so if you’re going to include it keep it short. It’s a good place to include achievements which aren’t related to work or education, such as running a marathon, winning an award, climbing a mountain, etc.
Some CVs include a separate section which lists their skills. In most situations, it isn’t necessary to include this as you will have mentioned all of your skills in the other sections. However, it can be a useful way to highlight skills if you are particularly experienced in a certain field.
If you do include it, don’t use cliché examples such as good communication skills, teamworking, multitasking, etc. Instead, be specific, such as software packages you’re proficient in.
If you include this, ‘available upon request’ usually suffices.
Rather than starting from scratch, templates can be a good way to get you started. They are already formatted and contain section headers, ready for you to fill out. You can find some templates here, here and here.
Now you’ve written a great CV – what next? Read our handy guide to applying for construction jobs here.
Many job applications require a cover letter alongside your CV – and even if they don’t, it is good practice to include one. Read the Go Construct guide to writing a cover letter here.
If you’ve managed to land a job interview – well done! Read our hints and tips guide to interviews here.