Your CV is designed to demonstrate why you’d be a good fit for the role you’re applying for, whether it's a full-time job, an apprenticeship or an internship, to name a few. It includes any professional experience and your education too. But it’s also designed to showcase your personality and how you might be a good fit for the company.
How to write a CV
While there is no ‘one way’ to write a CV, there are a couple of elements that most CVs always have:
- Length: no longer than two sides of A4 paper, typed (not including your cover letter).
- Font: keep it black, between size 10-12, and a common type such as Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman.
- Layout: simple and clear, using headings, formatting (bolding, italics, underlining), and spacing to structure the information and make it easy to read.
Keep in mind that the simpler the layout, the more likely it’ll look the same across different devices. If you’re applying for a creative or design role, you might want to play with the layout to help show your practical skills.
The biggest tip for what to include in your CV is to tweak and tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Don’t send a generic CV that details all your experience and skills.
Read the job description for the role you’re applying for, research the employer, and choose the experience and skills that are most relevant.
This could be a top line summary about yourself, and it shouldn’t be longer than a few sentences. You might want to mention some of your key strengths and attributes here, especially any that the role explicitly requires.
Expect to back these up in the main body of your CV, and to talk about them during an interview.
Beginning with your most recent or current position and going backwards, list out your previous jobs, including different roles at the same employer.For each role, you should include:
- company name
- your job title
- how long you’ve been employed (years and months)
- your main responsibilities
Try to highlight what you achieved or the impact you made in a previous role and tie these back to the required skills or experience.
You might want to list other things that don’t quite sit within your work or education history. They may be asked for explicitly in the job description. Depending on the role, examples you might include could be:
- specialist training like health and safety or first aid
- the ability to speak different languages or sign language, for example
- knowledge of software or equipment, such as video or photo editing programmes, or use of Microsoft Excel
- awards you may have like the Duke of Edinburgh award or an academic award or scholarship
- links to online portfolios or blogs if you’re interested in a job around journalism or content, for example
Hobbies, passions, and interests can be a great way to stand out from the crowd and a nice icebreaker in an interview.
But it's unlikely that they will be the reason you're offered a position – work experience and qualifications will usually be the deciding factor when an employer makes a job offer.
If you have room in your CV, you may want to include some hobbies or interests which help showcase your personality.
A reference is a way to back up what you’ve put on your CV and a way for potential employers to check what you’ve said. The person who writes your reference is called a ‘referee’. You can simply write ‘References available on request,’ and provide their contact details later.