The first thing you need when writing a good CV is to make sure you know your goal. You need to write your CV with the job in mind. The right CV will get you an interview quickly, but a badly written CV may mean you don’t even get a rejection, you just never hear about the role again.
There are a few things you need to do to get the most out of your CV and show prospective employers why you are the only person for the job.
This guide will give you our top tips and the best CV examples showing you how to write a great CV that gets noticed.
What is a CV?
‘CV’ is short for ‘Curriculum Vitae’, a Latin phrase meaning literally, ‘course of life’ – a brief account of your education, qualifications, and previous employment. It is how you present yourself to the outside world, the world of work. It is a form of personal marketing, so make sure when you write your CV that it shows you in the best light possible.
Remember, writing a CV is often just one part of the application process; a cover letter and completed application form may also be required.
What information should be included when writing my CV?
The format of a CV is flexible, and there are many different styles used. You need to tailor the content of your CV to the job in question. And, there are elements of it that most employers would expect to see:
Name, professional title and contact details
The title of your CV, at the very top of the CV, should be your name, professional title and contact details.
Don’t bother adding ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as a heading, the heading should be your name – anything else is just a waste of space when creating your CV.
What contact details should I provide?
Email address and contact number(s) are all that is required. An address is not required, and do not add your age, nationality, date of birth or marital status. These are NOT required.
Feel free to add an up-to-date professional profile, such as LinkedIn.
Here’s an example of how your header might look:
This is simply a few lines about you, who you are, what you hope to achieve, and your goals. Make it fit the job you are applying for if you can. The person described in your Personal Profile (you) should sound like the ideal candidate for the job.
Work History and Experience
This section is where you can really shine. Set out your previous roles, experience, volunteering, placements or internships. You should list these in reverse chronological order, that is, most recent first. Your most recent role should be of the most importance to your prospective employer.
Each item should detail:
Employer details, your job role/title., your employment dates and no more than three to four lines of what you did in that role. Significant achievements should be identified using the STAR method. Active words, such as ‘planned’, ‘built’ and ‘created’ are useful in detailing things you have achieved.
Here’s an example of how each item could look on your CV:
mmm yyyy – mmm yyyy
Company Name, Location
Top Tip: If you have a lot of experience/previous positions, you don’t need to include roles from more than 10 years ago – unless, of course, they are particularly relevant to the job for which you are applying.
Again, in reverse chronological order, the most recent first. This should include, for each item:
- Institution (School, College, University)
- Qualification with Grades/Distinctions etc.
- Dates attended/completed
So, this section may look like this:
Institution name – Dates attended (from – to)
Qualification/subject – Grade
Or for space-saving if needed, try the more compact:
Qualification, grade – Institution – Year
If you have a degree, then listing a few relevant modules, projects or assignments underneath is a good idea.
If you have room, or again, if they are particularly relevant to the role for which you are applying, then you can add extra sections for things such as:
This is an opportunity to add some key skills (also known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘core skills’) that are super-relevant to the job you are applying for when creating your CV. Things like experience with a particular piece of software or application, courses you have attended; or anything that will help you secure your dream role.
Hobbies and Interests
Try and keep this section of your CV interesting, if you use it. Include unusual hobbies, ones that add to your suitability for the role. Try to avoid really common hobbies and interests, such as reading, walking, etc.