Writing a CV, especially if you’ve never done it before, or for a job you really want, can be daunting.
This page will help you on the path to writing a relevant, quality CV that is tailored to the job role you want.
How do I start writing a CV?
There is no one definitive way to structure and write a CV but some basic rules do apply. Layout and content should be designed to highlight the skills and experience relevant to the position you are applying for. Be sure to look carefully through the job details/person specification to ensure you are clear about the skills, experience, and competencies the employers want from an ideal candidate. Once written, take time to scan through your CV as if you were an employer. Does the evidence that you have what they are looking for stand out clearly?
Layout and format
- No longer than two sides of A4 - and in some situations, one side is appropriate, such as for part-time work, and for creative and media industries.
- Clear and neat layout - don’t overcrowd the page and avoid large blocks of text.
- Use clear headings/sub-headings and bullet points.
- Be consistent – format headings in the same way throughout.
- Make sure there are NO spelling or grammar errors.
- Be concise, and use short, punchy sentences.
If you’ve never written a CV before or feel out of practice, start with our CV Builder Tool. CV Builder helps you structure your CV, providing advice and tips at every step of your CV creation process. There are lots of different types of CV, for example, Skills-Based or Chronological, but you can make a solid start here and decide on your preferred style later on.
How do I improve my CV?
For more experienced CV writers, or after you’ve completed CV Builder, analyse your CV. Using the same software as many large recruiters, CV 360 automatically checks your CV. It provides you with instant feedback and advice on what you’re doing well - and what to improve. This can help you start addressing those tougher questions like, “How much do employers want to know?” or “How do I persuade them that I’m ‘motivated’?” NB: CV 360 may not be suitable for all types of CV, e.g, academic or legal. However, it can still be useful. It allows you to see your CV from an employer rather than an applicant point of view.
What should I do next?
Once you’ve got the basics of CV writing sorted, you may want to book an appointment with an Employability Adviser. They can help you tailor your CV to the specific opportunity, help you translate your experience into a language your prospective employer will understand, provide advice on how to tackle gaps on your CV or other potentially tricky topics.
CVs are an overview of your skills, attributes, and experience. Prospective employers use them when considering who to invite to the interview stage. Every CV needs to be tailored to the specific job. Now that you’ve used the resources on this page, you are firmly on the road to becoming skilled in the process of writing a tailored – a “winning” – CV.
More information about different CV formats and useful examples:
- The Prospects website has examples of different styles and types of CV, including legal, technical, and teaching.
- Thinking of academia? Visit the Vitae website to learn more about academic CVs
- Targetjobs has a range of useful CV templates to help you get started