Writing a CV

Your CV is often your first contact with a potential employer, so it should make a good impression and market your skills and experience in the best way possible.

Tips for writing a CV

  • Keep it short – about two pages
  • Explain any gaps, such as time spent on a career break
  • Put the most important information first
  • Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for
  • Make sure it highlights the key skills employers are looking for
  • Give examples as evidence to back up your skills
  • Make sure it is accurate – lies on your CV can lead to dismissal
  • Proofread it carefully, and ask someone else to check it too

Formatting your CV

To make your CV easy to read, use:

  • clear section headings
  • a clear font that looks professional, no less than 10 point
  • consistent fonts, sizes and layout
  • bullet points
  • spacing

Layout and what to include

Contact details

Use your name as the heading at the top of your CV.

List your contact details at the start of your CV. This should include your:

  • email address
  • postal address
  • phone numbers

You can put these details on one line to save space.

You should not include other personal information such as your age, date of birth, marital status or a photo.

If you have a disability, you do not have to tell employers about it, but you might decide to tell them so that they can make reasonable adjustments for you at an interview, or in the role if you’re successful. You can do this when you apply or at a later stage. There may be a benefit to disclosing your disability where firms are committed to equal opportunity policies.

Personal statement

You may want to include a short personal statement at the start of your CV. This should briefly summarise your background, skills and experience and the type of role you’re looking for.

Work experience

List your roles, with the most recent first. For each role you should include:

  • your job title
  • the name of the organisation
  • the dates you worked there
  • your main responsibilities
  • your achievements in the role

Make sure you highlight the skills and experience most relevant to the job you’re applying for.

You do not need to include your salary or the reason you left.

Education and qualifications

List your education and qualifications, with the most recent first. Include:

  • the type of qualification
  • your result, or expected result if you are still studying
  • the name of the school, college, university or other organisation
  • the dates you attended
  • a brief summary of the course and what you learned, such as the areas of law you studied

You can also include any professional memberships in this section.

If you’re at the start of your career you may wish to put the education section before the work experience section.

Skills

You can include a skills section covering:

  • IT skills, such as software packages that you’re familiar with
  • languages, particularly if they’re relevant to the role
  • any other specialist skills that are relevant

If you prefer, you can include your skills as part of the sections on work experience and education.

Interests and activities

You do not have to include your interests or hobbies on your CV. Think carefully about the impression they will give a potential employer. Only include interests that show you have skills the company is looking for, such as:

  • volunteering, particularly if it relates to your career
  • activities that show key skills such as team work
  • positions of responsibility that you have held outside work
  • interests that relate to the job

References

You do not need to list references on your CV. An offer of employment will usually be subject to receiving references, but you can wait until an employer asks for them, and this will normally be later in the process.

Check that your referees are willing before you provide their contact details.

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