Write a great CV

A great CV can occasionally itself secure you a job, especially if you are applying for temporary work. At the very least, a strong CV should help promote you and secure interviews.

What information should a CV include?

The order in which you present these can be varied slightly and you must be willing to 'tweak your CV' to promote your suitability for any particular job spec.
  • Personal details. Most CVs start with these but avoid superfluous details, such as religious affiliation, children's names and so on. 
  • Education and qualifications. Take care to include the names of institutions and dates attended in reverse order; university before school results.
  • Work experience. The most widely accepted style of employment record is the chronological CV. Career history is presented in reverse date order starting with most recent. Achievements and responsibilities are listed against each role. More emphasis/information should be put on more recent jobs.
A functional CV can sometimes be more appropriate if, for example, you have held a number of unrelated jobs. This presentation emphasises key skills that are grouped together under suitable headings. However, career progression and the nature of jobs held can be unclear with this type of CV.
  • Skills. Include computer skills and (genuine) foreign language skills and any other recent training/development that is relevant to the role to which you have applied.
  • Hobbies and Interests. Keep this section short.
  • Referees. These can simply be 'Available on request'.

General Tips

  • Your CV should be laser-printed in black ink using a plain typeface, on good quality A4 white paper.
  • Your CV should ideally cover no more than two pages and never more than three. Aim to ensure the content is clear, structured, concise and relevant. Using bullet points rather than full sentences can help minimise word usage.
  • The completed CV needs to be checked carefully for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and to ensure that it makes sense. Ask an 'independent' party to review the whole document before you send it out.
  • Remember, when writing and structuring your CV, that it is essentially marketing you and that a potential employer will use the details provided to form interview questions. It should be clear and easy to read. Explain any gaps in career history avoid falsehoods and inaccuracies.
  • A basic CV may need tailoring to each job application.
  • There is no reason to include your reasons for leaving each job on your CV but be prepared to answer these questions in your interview.
  • Current salary details should not be included.
  • A good covering letter should always accompany your CV.