It’s difficult to know where to start with your CV, particularly if you have never written one before. Your CV is an important document (usually 1-2 pages in length) that provides potential employers and academic institutions with a snapshot about you. It can include information about your professional experience, your qualifications, and other skills and achievements. Often, you’ll be asked to submit a CV as part of a job application or as part of your admissions application for an academic qualification.
We’ve put together some tips for what to include when writing your CV and for how to structure your content. If you’re writing your CV for the first time, take a look at our guide below.
Always include your name, email address, and phone number at the top of your CV. The easier your details are to locate, the easier it is for somebody to contact you about a successful application!
Further details such as your home address are optional, but you should include them if it’s appropriate for the application you’re completing.
You could also include a web address for your personal website, blog, or LinkedIn profile if appropriate. This can be particularly useful for applications that require portfolio work or proof of previous experience.
Next, detail your work experience. You can include both paid and unpaid positions within this section. Entries should be organized chronologically from the most recent positions at the top to the least recent positions at the bottom.
Each entry should have a clear set of dates next to it, marking the duration of time you spent in each position (e.g. March 2020 - July 2020, or 03/2020 - 07/2020). You should also list your job title and the company/organization you worked for.
In the main text of the entry, clearly state your responsibilities within the role and what skills these responsibilities helped you to develop. If it helps to put this in bullet points, you can. One example might be: “cashing up the till each evening required attention to detail”.
It’s important to note that not all of your work experience needs to be written up onto your CV if it’s not relevant to your application. Only include entries with direct links to what you are applying for or information about transferable skills that are relevant to your application. If you have a CV longer than 1-2 pages, this is the section that can be trimmed down and made concise!
Similarly, with qualifications, you should list (from most recent to least recent) academic or professional qualifications that you have been awarded. Include the dates that you have studied each qualification, as well as the institution or awarding body that you studied with.
Again, you can make this section more concise by including relevant qualifications only. For example, if you have been awarded a bachelors degree, it may not be necessary to include your grades from school.
If you’re applying to a course or job requiring the English language at a certain level, be sure to include your IELTS or equivalent qualification here if possible.
Further interests and achievements
This should be a small section at the end of your CV. If there is a remaining room within your 1-2 page limit, you can include information about activities or achievements that you have been involved in outside of academia or employment. For example, if you have been involved with charity work, raised money for a cause, or play a musical instrument, these details may help you to stand out from the crowd.
And there you have it! These are the main details that you should include in your CV. Once you have your content planned out, you can play around with formatting and layout until you’re happy. As you continue gaining experience and completing qualifications, it’s a good idea to update your CV as you go along - that way, you’ll save time and it’ll be ready to send next time you need it!
Remember - the most important thing about your CV is that it should be clear and concise.
(it’s just a snapshot, after all!)