Creating a CV for work experience or a graduate job takes time and preparation, so that you can effectively demonstrate to the employer that you have the relevant skills and experience for the role. Our mini course along with the top tips listed below, and our range of sample CVs, will take you through the processes of creating an excellent CV – whatever your stage of study.  

Top Tips
  • Make it relevant: Take time to research the role and the organisation giving priority and space to the areas of your experience which are most relevant for the position.  
  • Make it look good: use a sensible font, and ensure it can be quickly read on a screen. Avoid images and too many colours, unless these are specifically required.
  • Be selective! You don't need to include absolutely everything you've ever done, but you do need to include all the relevant experiences and interests that you've had that will impress the employer. Keep it brief: either one, or two, pages of A4, nothing in-between.
  • Make it perfect: Impress with immaculate spelling and grammar and double check all the details to ensure course names, dates etc are correct. The University recommends Grammarly for proof reading software or ask someone to double check it for you.
Types of CV

Choose the style of CV which suits your plans and experience best. You will see some samples of content and layout in our sample CVs which reflect the three most commonly used formats in the UK:

  • (Reverse) Chronological CV – This is the most common style for students and recent graduates. Start with your most recent experience in each section and work backwards.
  • Skills-based CV – Particularly useful for mature students or others who are changing career direction. Use as much as the whole of the first page to give evidence of relevant skills.
  • Academic CV – Most commonly used when applying for academic posts (rather than courses). In addition to commonly included information, also add details about publications, conferences and funding awards.

If you are using a CV to apply outwith the UK, please consult the Careers and Employability Service for advice on appropriate layouts.

What to include

The most common – and expected – sections on a CV are:

  • Personal details - email and telephone number as well as your LinkedIn page if you have one and possibly a postal address.
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Interests and Achievements
  • References – usually made "Available on request".

Always try to present your most relevant information on the first page of your CV for immediate impact.

Other useful headings:

  • Relevant experience –  highlight particularly relevant work experience and volunteering.
  • Professional memberships – list membership of relevant professional bodies (for example, IMechE).
  • Academic CVs will also often include a list conferences/posters and publications.

We do not recommend the use of a personal profile or career objective other than for specific sectors (for example, publishing) or you are applying through a method which does not allow you any additional documentation (for example, when applying through a recruitment agency). A covering letter is a much more effective tool to discuss your career focus, market your skills and link them to the specific opportunity for which you are applying.

What should it look like?

Always write your own CV. CV wizard tools, copying one of our sample CVs or paying someone to construct your CV will never reflect you and what you have to offer adequately. To give your CV visual impact:

  • be consistent – use the same size and style of section and sub-headings throughout.
  • be concise – use bullet points or short paragraphs.
  • be neat – use one or two full pages of A4 paper (academic CVs can be longer) and justify both margins.
  • be professional – choose an appropriate font and size of text (for example, Calibri size 11) and use colour and any design elements sparingly.

Recruiters rarely spend more than a few seconds on the first reading of your CV. It is very important that your CV is quick and easy to absorb. If you follow these rules, it will be much easier for a recruiter to spot your strengths. 

Get feedback

Once you have drafted your CV and double checked the spelling and grammar, we can provide feedback on the content, layout and impact of your document.