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CV top tips

This guide summarises the essential information you will need to write a successful CV.

A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a document containing your personal information and summarising your education, employment and personal experience. CVs provide employers with information on you and your relevance for a job. An excellent CV will not get you a job, but it will get you through to the Interview/Assessment stage.

Layout of a CV

  • Your CV must be only two sides of A4, do not exceed this limit.
  • Use your name as the title, not Curriculum Vitae, and do not include a photo.

Visual presentation of a CV

  • Use a single font (e.g. Arial or Verdana) in black ink. Use size 14 for headings and size 12 for body text.
  • Use bullet points and lists to break up information and do not underline, embolden or italicise unnecessary information.
  • Ensure consistent spacing throughout and in between sections.
  • Print out your CV on good quality white paper and post it in an A4 envelope with your covering letter.

Sections of a CV

1. Personal Details

  • Includes your name (as a title), address, postcode, daytime and mobile phone number and a professional email address.
  • Does not include a photo, age, date of birth, marital status, race or religion.

2. Personal Profile

  • The personal profile is a short paragraph providing the employer with a positive statement as to who you are.
  • Include positive key words and information relevant to the job you are applying for. Only include information that can be supported with evidence and examples.
  • Do not include unnecessary or over the top self praise, inappropriate references or humour or incorrect/unsupported information.

3. Education and Training

  • Include your relevant education and training, starting with the most recent. Ensure you include the dates, name and location, qualification and grades achieved.
  • Include relevant dissertation titles or modules and additional training received in the workplace.
  • Do not include any incorrect information. Employers will check.

4. Employment History

  • Include a list of your relevant employment history starting with the most recent. Ensure you include the dates, company name, job title, location, key responsibilities and achievements, awards and commendations.
  • Include any relevant full-time or part-time work experience, placements or voluntary work you have undertaken. Account for any gaps in your employment.
  • Do not include your salary, derogatory comments about your employer or irrelevant previous jobs (e.g. a paper round).

5. Additional Skills and Experience

  • The additional skills and experience section is designed to enable you to highlight any additional information which may be relevant to a potential employer.
  • You can include your IT skills (stating your level of competence), membership of professional bodies and language skills (stating proficiency).

6. Interests

  • The interests section is designed to enable you to add any further relevant information which does not sit in any of the sections above. These interests may be ones you have personally, socially, or academically.
  • This section can include membership of local or community groups, sports or social clubs, university teams or groups and intellectual activities.

7. References

  • Unless you have been specifically asked for names by an employer, a note stating that ‘References provided on request’ is sufficient.

Choosing your words

  • Your CV should be as up-to-date as possible. Tailor it to a specific job or sector as much as possible. Do not just send out the same CV to all potential employers.
  • Sell yourself by using positive key words, but do not oversell yourself.
  • Ensure you have evidence to back up all your noted skills and achievements. Do not lie about anything in your CV as you may be asked about any aspect during an interview.
  • Use appropriate language throughout. Avoid Americanisations, humour, slang, jargon, abbreviations.
  • Read and re-read your CV and get someone else to check through it. Use the CV checking service run by the Employability team.

CV Rule breakers

  • Depending on your chosen career path, it may be appropriate for you to produce a CV which breaks these rules.
  • When researching your career and potential employers, you should investigate what style and type of CV may be relevant for these industries.