CV Writing

What is a CV?

An effective CV highlights your achievements, skills, and experience related to the role you desire. The CV is the first document you submit when applying for a job. Often, employers ask for a CV instead of an application form, but sometimes both are necessary.

This is your first chance to introduce yourself to an employer. A strong CV will get you an interview.

You can use it to apply to advertised jobs or to introduce yourself to employers you’re interested in working for. Sometimes employers don’t advertise their openings but may have them.

Getting Started on your CV

To begin, you should review the job advertisement for the role you’re applying for, so you fully understand the:

  • job description
  • person specification
  • company details

Identify the ways in which your skills and experience match the needs of the employer and collect the information you will need, including:

  • your qualifications
  • your past jobs and volunteering experience
  • your past employers’ details
  • evidence of any training courses you’ve completed

Your CV should be tailored to fit the job description and company. If the job doesn’t have a detailed description, look at similar jobs to get an idea of the kinds of skills/ experience the role will require.

Different CV Styles

Depending on the role and the stage of your career or life, there are different CV formats. Use the one that best suits your situation.

  • Traditional CV – lists your employment and educational history, in chronological order
  • Skill Based CV – emphasizes your job-related skills and personal qualities
  • Technical CV – used in occupations such as IT and engineering to highlight skills that are important in your field
  • Creative CV – used in creative and digital fields, they often have more design elements such as infographics to stand out. Creative CV’s should have a link to an online portfolio.
  • Academic CV – often used for teaching or research careers, and is generally longer than a skills-based CV

If your CV is not an academic CV, it should not exceed 2 sides of A4.

Contact Details

The number one essential on a CV is contact details. If you don’t have these, the employer can’t get in touch with you for an interview.

You should include:

  • Your full name at the top of the page
  • A phone number that you can be reached on during working hours
  • An email address – always use a professional sounding email address. Something along the lines of (or alternate email provider) should do.

If you have an online portfolio or a LinkedIn profile you can include links to these too.

You do NOT have to include your:

  • age
  • date of birth
  • marital status
  • nationality
Personal Statement

These few lines illustrate who you are and what you hope to accomplish. This should appear after your name and contact information.

Be aware of what the employer is looking for and what you want. Tailor your profile to sound like the best candidate for the job.

Work History

This is a key part of your CV, and should include any paid jobs, volunteering, placements, and internships that you’ve had. Always list these from most recent first.

For each role you’ve had, make sure to include:

  • the employer details
  • the job title
  • the dates you worked there
  • what you did (a short summary, 2-3 lines in length)

Try to include words that highlight exactly what you’ve done (created, contributed, organised, managed, planned, etc) and give examples of your achievements rather than simply listing your responsibilities.

You should try to use the STAR method to put your achievements into context.

Education History

The education section should highlight:

  • names of your qualifications
  • school, college or university where you studied
  • dates you attended

Depending where you are in your career will depend on how much detail this section should have.

If you’re young or don’t have much work experience, try to put a good amount of detail here, and include a short summary of what skills you’ve developed through your education.

If you’re further in your career this section should only include your most recent education, be it a degree, or other qualification.

Hobbies & Interests

Telling an employer about your hobbies and interests can be a chance to let your personality shine through. Just remember that you should also try to tie the interests you have back to soft skills that employers look for.

e.g. In a band – Taught myself guitar to a level where I am comfortable performing in front of audiences.

This shows that you have determination and dedication, as well as confidence that could transfer over to pitching or presenting.


It is no longer common to include the details of references on a CV. Instead, you can simply add “References available on request” or simply leave them off entirely.

If you’re successful at the interview stage, it’s after this point that the employer will ask you for references.

Gaps in your CV

People can have gaps in their CV’s for a variety of reasons; don’t feel bad about this if it applies to you. If you have a large gap for any reason, try to show skills you developed during this time.

If you have a gap in your CV due to mental illness, Rethink can help you create a CV.

Gap due to a criminal record? Nacro is on hand to help you get back to work.

And if you’ve taken time off to be a carer and are looking to get back into work, then Carers UK have resources that can help.

If you have any questions please get in touch

If you have any questions please get in touch

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