CVs can vary widely and you may be required to write one for a part-time job, full-time job or even a graduate position.  Your CV should always be adapted for each role that you apply for; never send out a generic CV.

CV Content

A CV is your marketing tool, a document that will help you to sell and promote your skills, knowledge and experiences to prospective employers.  There is some flexibility in how to write a CV, however, there are some key sections that employers expect to see, regardless of the style you use when writing it.  These include:

  • Contact details (name, address, telephone, email)
  • Education and qualifications (listing subjects and grades)
  • Employment and work experience (paid and unpaid)
  • Your skills relevant to the position you are applying
  • References

CV Styles

There ae different styles of CV that you can adopt depending on the role you are applying for:

Chronological CV

  • This type of CV lists work and other experiences in reverse order, starting with the most recent.
  • This is most commonly used if you have relevant work experience in relation to the job and/or your education is your biggest selling point.
  • The skills you have developed will be interweaved into the body of the CV rather than in a separate section.

Skills-based CV:

  • This type of CV emphasises the skills required for the job in a specific section called “Skills Profile”.  These skills are not simply listed but should also include evidence of how these skills were acquired, drawing from academic, work/voluntary experience and extra-curricular activities.
  • Details of work experience /voluntary work will be brief since they should only include a description of the job role rather than the skills acquired as a result of doing the job.

Academic CV:

  • CVs are used for academic applications such as research positions and can be longer than the recommended 2 sides.
  • This can include a synopsis of research, publications, conferences attended, successful funding applications and specific skills such as research techniques and methods used. 

Creative CV:

  • Used to apply for jobs in creative fields e.g. advertising, interior design, graphics and multi media
  • A well designed CV would be expected from students who have studied a design related degree but remember - Don’t let the medium interfere with the message.
  • You still need to ensure your personal details, education, work experience, employability and technical skills are in a clear format.
  • To demonstrate your creative ability provide a link on your CV to a website with examples of projects from your portfolio.

What should a CV look like?

Employers rarely spend more than 30 seconds on the first reading of your CV.  It is very important that your CV is quick and easy to absorb.

To give your CV visual impact:

  • Be consistent – use the same size and style of section and sub-headings throughout.
  • Be concise – use bullet points or short paragraphs.
  • Be neat – use one or two full pages of A4 paper (academic CVs can be longer) and justify both margins.
  • Be professional – choose an appropriate font and size of text e.g. Arial, Calibri, Georgia, Tahoma, Verdana

If you follow these rules, it will be much easier for an employer to spot your strengths.  This is much more likely to make you stand out than using a colourful, design-led template.

Top tips for writing your CV

  • Keep your CV to a maximum of 2 sides of A4 paper and remember the following:
  • Always check your spelling and grammar before sending.  get someone else to proof read it for you.
  • Be thorough and honest about your experiences

  • Use action words when describing your experiences 
  • Provide evidence against the skills you are listing
  • Try and ensure your CV is focused on results, achievements and accomplishments - elements that are quantifiable - use the STAR technique when providing examples.
  • Do not write anything negative about yourself - avoid phrases such as 'I hope' and 'I think' try and be more confident in your delivery.
  • Ensure the layout of your CV is attractive and easy to follow - use reverse chronology, starting with your most recent experiences
  • Never send a CV without a covering letter

Video CVs      Video

A video CV gives you the chance to enhance your application by showing an employer your personality.  It can also help you stand out from the crowd, if done well.  Body language and presentation skills become really important with this type of CV.

  • Check out the Guardian article and the information at Total Jobs on how to make a great video CV
  • Have a look at Monster for the 10 best video CVs you will ever see


CV Information and Resources

For further help with your CV please have a look at the following tools and resources:

Postgraduate and Academic CVs:

The Careers Service can help you to develop and compile your CV.  You can make an appointment with one of our Careers Advisers.