Writing a CV for the public sector

  • May 25, 2022

How to write a “stand-out” CV for the public sector

Public and not-for-profit sector roles account for 17.6% of the total UK jobs market and cover many sectors, from the NHS to education. Applications for public sector and non-profit roles usually include your CV and a personal statement that complements and expands on the information given in your CV. Together they provide a powerful expression of your suitability for the role and should be written at the same time to ensure they support each other fully.

Writing the perfect public sector, not-for-profit or civil service CV and personal statement can be challenging, but no matter the public sector role you are applying for, there are some things you can do to make your CV and personal statement attractive to public sector and non-profit employers and hiring managers.

First, let’s explore some CV writing tips that will help your public or not-for-profit sector CV stand out.

5 CV writing tips for the public and non-profit sectors

When writing your public or not-for-profit sector CV remember to:

1. Tailor your CV based on the job description

It may feel like a lot of work to change your CV for every application, but a few careful tweaks can optimise your CV to best match the job description and ensure you stand out to hiring managers. Carefully read each job specification and adjust the emphasis you place on different parts of you experience accordingly.

2. Break down acronyms

If you have worked in the public or not-for-profit sector for a long time, it’s likely that acronyms will crop up in your experience or job titles occasionally. It’s important to remember that not every hiring manager will have come across these acronyms before. Always write out the full title and include the acronym in brackets. If you refer to it multiple times you can use the acronym for any additional references.

3. Think about experience not employment history

Generally, CV writing advice encourages you to focus on your official employment history. However, in the public sector your experience, even if it comes from your hobbies, extra-curricular or voluntary work, is more important. Hiring managers for the public sector and non-profits have a list of behaviours such as leadership, decision making, collaboration and communication that they are looking for so use the job description to give clear, concrete examples of any experience that fits those behaviours.

4. Include any additional skills

If you have any additional skills that don’t fit the job description but may be relevant such as a foreign language, IT skills or other experiences, list them separately. It could be that the team is missing a certain key skill or that that extra expertise sets you apart from other applicants.

5. Be conservative with formatting

Since the average hiring manager only spends 6 to 7 seconds looking at a CV it can be hard to know how to structure a CV that grabs the reader’s attention. It can be tempting to be creative and think outside the box. However, in the public sector and civil service, it is important to make your CV easy to read. Keep formatting conservative and keep to a maximum of two pages.

Follow these tips to write a solid public sector CV that showcases your skill set and expertise for the public sector.

Some public and non-profit employers may ask you to enter your CV into a more structured application form either in hard copy or online. The above tips can still be useful although remember to be aware of any word limits.

How to write a public sector covering letter

Many public sector applications will also call for a covering letter or statement of suitability to be submitted alongside your CV. This statement should be around 1,200 words and expand on the experiences detailed in your CV and show in more detail how you fit the job description.

Before you start writing your covering letter consider:

- The behaviours and abilities that are being asked for in the job description

- Using the STAR method to demonstrate those behaviours and abilities

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method can help you showcase your experience in an easy-to-read format. Here is an example of using the STAR method in a covering letter or statement to demonstrate ability:

Situation: Provide the background of the situation.

Task: Set out what your role was. Be sure to focus on what you were assigned to do.

Action: This is the most important step. Provide a detailed explanation of how you handled the situation and what your response to the problem was. Include evidence such as any time or budget constraints you worked to, to make your answer more powerful.

Result: What happened? Describe the positive outcomes and any learning points you took from the experience.

Morgan Law can help you find public or not-for-profit sector roles that suit your skills

Whatever your previous experience the public and not-for-profit sector is a place where you can use those skills to make a difference. As public and not-for-profit sector recruiters with decades of experience Morgan Law can help you find roles to suit your expertise and provide support at every stage of your application process.

Contact us today to discuss your career plans.