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UPDATED
2:05pm 27 Jun 2022

Developing an effective CV

Here you will find some useful tips and information to help you develop or improve your CV. You can also access CV templates and information on how you can get your CV checked.

Looking for a template to help you get started or to improve your current CV?

The Careers+ team have developed a range of CV templates to help you with the content, layout and format of your CV.

Already have a CV that you would like to get checked? 

Once you have read through the useful advice on this page and developed your CV, we recommend that you get your CV checked by:

  • Submitting a query to your Careers+ faculty team and attaching your CV. The team will respond within two working days.
  • Using the CV checking software CV360 to score your current CV and get instant feedback.

What is a CV and why do I need one?

Your CV is a document that enables you to show a potential employer that your skills, knowledge and experience are just what they are looking for.

Your CV is the first impression you give to a potential employer. It details your experience, range of skills and suitability for a specific role. Whether the application is speculative or for a specific vacancy, most employers will want you to show your skills on paper. A winning CV should be tailored to the role you are applying for, in order to make a positive first impression and get you through to the interview stage.

Starting points

Before you start, remember the basics:

  • A standard CV should generally not exceed two sides of A4
  • Make sure that the layout is clear and that relevant information is easy to access using bullet points and short sentences
  • Think about use of blank space; this can make it easier to pick out important information
  • Use a clear font - usually Arial or Calibri, 10 or 12 point
  • Do not include the title “Curriculum Vitae” but do make sure your name is highlighted in bold type at the top of the page
  • It is important to check your spelling and grammar. Have a read through to spot any errors and ask a friend, family member or careers professional to check it for you
  • You do not need to provide personal information such as your date of birth, nationality, gender or marital status

What should I include in my CV?

Each time you apply for a job you need to check the advertisement, job and person specification to see what skills and attributes the employer is looking for. It is also important to research the company. It is crucial that your CV is targeted to the role and the organisation. In other words, you need a different CV for each role you apply for.

 You may wish to consider including some, or all, of the following sections in your CV. Please note that these elements are included for guidance only. It is up to you to choose what you put in your CV - if in doubt, speak to the Careers+ Team.


SECTION

DESCRIPTION

Personal Details

  • Located at the top of the page including name, address, contact details, professional email address, LinkedIn profile link and online portfolio/website (if applicable).
  • No information relating to age, sex, nationality, marital status or health.

Personal Profile

  • Highlight what you are doing now, e.g. ‘A current second year student studying English’ and briefly explain what skills and any relevant experience you have to bring to the role.
  • Finally, explain what you are now seeking, e.g. ‘Now seeking an editorial placement to support my career ambition to work in publishing’, ensuring that this relates to the role you are applying for.

Key Skills

  • Five to six bullet points of key skills relevant to the role you are applying for developed through work, study or extra-curricular activity. Along with a relevant example to illustrate each one - remember that skills are transferable!
  • Make use of the skills section on specific job profiles on the Prospects website.
  • Be sure to include any technical/software/industry specific skills, e.g. Adobe suite, CAD, IT software, Accountancy software, SPSS, etc.

Education

  • It is conventional to list your most recent qualifications first including subjects studied, dates, institution and town.
  • You may not need to include every qualification you have; for example, you do not have to list all of your GCSEs; it will suffice to say ‘8 GCSEs including Mathematics and English’.
  • If you are applying for a job relating to your degree, you could list relevant modules studied at University and information about dissertations and projects.

Experience

  • Details of all work experience including paid employment, voluntary/placements and shadowing. List your jobs starting with the most recent first.
  • Rather than focusing on duties, think about key responsibilities and achievements within that role. Show evidence of transferable skills that you have demonstrated.
  • If you have some relevant experience (whether paid, unpaid, voluntary or project based) you could consider separating this from other experience by creating two sections – ‘Relevant experience’ and ‘Other experience’.
  • If you have been working for a long time, you may not have to list all of your experience; remember to keep it relevant to the job which you are applying for.

Interests and Achievements

  • This is your chance to show that you are a well-rounded person with interests outside of your work or study. You do not need to list these if you prefer not to, but if you choose to have an interests section, make sure that they are unique interests that show what you have contributed: the skills you have used, and what you have achieved.
  • Also include any outstanding achievements or awards gained throughout academic, employment or personal history and try to include the skills during this achievement.

References

  • It is fine to write ‘References - Available upon request’ unless requested by the employer, and always make sure to ask for the referee’s permission.

Further Resources

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