- Do your research – A CV is only ever as good as it is relevant and tailored to your chosen field. Think about key skills and other requirements and how you match them.
- Be selective – Make sure you give relevant experience room and keep essentials (such as contact details) to a minimum.
- Make it look good – A well-presented CV ensures that recruiters find all relevant information quickly and easily.
- Check it and get it checked – It is your job to get rid of any spelling and grammatical errors. We will be happy to give you feedback on all other aspects of your CV.
- Keep your CV up to date, so you are always ready to apply for the next opportunity to come your way.
- The Basics
A CV is a marketing tool which gives you the chance to present yourself as the right person for the job, course or other opportunity. To do this well, you will need to:
- Take time to research thoroughly the area of work/study in which you are interested.
- Think about how your experience, studies and skills match the requirements of your chosen field. If you have not done this before, try some of the tools in Explore Your Options.
Choose the style of CV which suits your plans and experience best. The most common styles of CV are:
- (Reverse) Chronological CV – This is the most common style for students and recent graduates.
- Skills-based CV – Particularly useful for mature students or others who are changing career direction.
- Academic CV – Most commonly used when applying for academic posts (rather than courses).
You will find several examples of each of these in our example CVs. Look at a good range of examples to give you ideas on content and layout.
Always write your own CV. CV wizard tools, copying one of our samples or paying someone to construct your CV will never reflect you and what you have to offer adequately.
- What Should I Include?
The most common – and expected – sections on a CV are:
- Personal details
- Work experience
- Interests & Achievements
- References – always ask permission before you include referees' details. To request permission from an academic referee, you can use the University’s reference request document.
For more information on what to include in these sections, have a look at our example CVs.
Always try to present your most relevant information on the first page of your CV for immediate impact.
Other useful headings:
- Relevant experience – This can be useful to highlight particularly relevant work experience and volunteering.
- Professional memberships – For some areas of work, it is useful to list (student) membership of relevant professional bodies.
- 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 unless you are applying through a method which does not allow you any additional documentation (eg recruitment agency or website upload). 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?
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.
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 if at all.
If you follow these rules, it will be much easier for a recruiter to spot your strengths. This is much more likely to make you stand out than using a colourful template.
- How to Get Feedback
Once you have drafted your CV, we will be happy to provide you with feedback on the content, layout and impact of your CV but we will not correct spelling and grammatical errors for you. Ask friends and family to help with this if you are struggling.