How to write a CV

Careers Advice

How to write a CV

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How to write a CV

The first opportunity to tell an employer what you can do, your CV is a vital part of your job hunt

What is a CV?

A CV (curriculum vitae) allows you to summarise your education, skills and experience, selling yourself to employers.

A curriculum vitae (often shortened CV or vita) is a written overview of a person’s experience and other qualifications for a job opportunity. It is akin to a résumé in North America. In some countries, a CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview.

In the USA and Canada it’s known as a résumé, and tends to be a more concise document.

How long should a CV be?

A standard CV in the UK should be no longer than two sides of A4.

Only include the main facts; if your CV is just one page, that’s fine, as employers only want to read relevant information. Some medical or academic CVs may be longer depending on your experience.

What to include in a CV

  • Contact details – Include your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. You do not need to include your date of birth or a photograph unless you’re applying for an acting or modelling job.
  • Profile – Placed at the beginning of the CV, a profile is a concise statement that highlights your key attributes or reasons for deciding to work in a particular field. Pick out a few relevant achievements and skills, while clearly articulating your career aims. It must focus on the sector you’re applying to, as your cover letter will be job-specific. You should keep it short and snappy – 100 words is the perfect length.
  • Education – List and date all previous education, including professional qualifications, placing the most recent first.
  • Work experience – List your experience in reverse chronological order, making sure that anything you mention is relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you have plenty of relevant work experience, this section should come before education.
  • Skills and achievements – This is where you talk about the foreign languages you speak and the IT packages you can competently use. Whatever you list should be relevant to the job and not over-exaggerated, as you’ll need to back up your claims at interview. If you have got lots of relevant experience you should do a skills-based CV.
  • Interests – Simply writing ‘socialising, going to the cinema and reading’ isn’t going to catch the attention of the recruiter. However, when relevant to the job, your interests can provide a more rounded picture of you and give you something to talk about at interview. Examples include writing your own blog if you want to be a journalist, or being part of a drama group if you’re looking to get into sales.
  • References – You don’t need to provide the names of references at this stage. You also don’t need to say ‘references available upon request’ as most employers would assume this to be the case.

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