CV Tips

CV explained

A CV is a short, written summary of your skills, achievements and experience. You use it in the first stage of applying for jobs. Employers often ask for a CV instead of an application form. You can do it on paper or online.

Why you use a CV

It’s your first chance to promote yourself to an employer. A good CV will get you to an interview. Use it to apply for advertised jobs, or to introduce yourself to employers you’d like to work for. They may have unadvertised vacancies.

How to start

Gather useful information like:

  • the job advert
  • the job description
  • a person specification
  • company details
  • your qualifications
  • details about your past employers
  • details about your past jobs or volunteering experience
  • evidence of training courses you’ve completed

You can use this information to show how your skills and experience match what the employer wants. You should tailor your CV to suit the job description and the company.

If the job you’re applying for does not have a job description, you can use our job profiles to help. They’ll tell you the skills you’ll need and the typical things you’ll do in that job.

CV layout

There are different CV styles, so use the one which best matches the stage you’re at in your life or career. The main styles are:

  • traditional CV or chronological CV – list your work and education history, starting with the most recent
  • skills based or targeted CV – focuses on your job-related skills and personal qualities
  • technical CV – used in professions like IT and engineering and puts your industry-specific skills first followed by the other information
  • creative CV – used in creative and digital arts and can link to an online portfolio, contain video or infographics, or include digital tools that make you stand out from the crowd
  • academic CV – generally longer than a traditional or skills-based CV and often used for teaching and research careers

Your finished document should be no more than 2 sides of A4 unless it’s an academic CV.

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