How to write a CV

A CV is your opportunity to tell potential employers the story of what you've done and could do. Learn how to write a CV with our support.

What's a CV?

 

It's a written document of your skills, education and experience, which you send to potential employers to apply for jobs. 

Whether you’re creating your first CV or polishing what you already have, we’ve got plenty of advice and tools to help you build one here.

Take a look at:

  •  How to prepare
  •  Example CVs and cover letters
  •  Our step-by-step CV builder

Preparing to write your CV

A few simple steps will help you get ready to create your CV. 

1. Read the job description

It'll tell you what the employer is looking for. 

Look for the key skills and think about how your own past experience relates to the job. This will help you tailor your CV to the position. 

Try to spot key words and notice the language the employer is using. Use similar phrases when you create a CV, so it's easier for the person reading it to see how you match up.

2. Think about how you’ll order your CV

When you write a CV, you can lay it out in different ways, depending on what you want to show.

Put the most important information for this particular job at the top. Have they asked for a qualification?

Do they want work experience in something? Or are specific skills important to them? The job description will help you decide what to prioritise. 

Example CVs

Get an idea of structure and direction with these mock CVs and cover letters. 

Graduate who's looking for a career in your chosen industry? Boost your chances with this CV and cover letter.

Read more

Get back into the world of work after some time away. This sample CV and cover letter might help.

Read more 

Keen to apply for an apprenticeship? Let this example CV and cover letter show you how you could do it.

Read more

Looking to change your career? Take the speculative approach - read this CV and cover letter. 

Read more

Never written a CV before? Get prepared with this example resume and cover letter. 

Read more

Do

  • Keep your CV to two sides of A4 paper 

An average employer spends less than 30 seconds reading a CV, so it’s important to be concise.

  • Read your CV out loud to yourself or a friend before sending it to an employer

It’ll help you identify any spelling or grammatical errors, and give you an idea of the kind of first impression you might give.

  • Make sure your social media accounts are set to private 

Employers can try to find your social media accounts using the information you provide in your CV. Make sure your profile pictures are appropriate. Try Googling yourself and see what comes up.

 

 

  • Showcase your skills and strengths, education and qualifications

Remember that all of your experiences have helped you develop skills that are transferable into lots of different jobs. Don’t forget to keep your CV up-to-date.

  • Be honest

It’s too easy to be caught out in a lie, especially if you make it to interview.

Don't

  • Use the same CV for every job application

Technology’s a big part of the recruitment process.

Some companies scan for buzzwords, which are the skills detailed in the job description.

Try to adapt your CV to prove that you have the skills they're looking for, and increase your chances of getting an interview.

  • Use bad humour, 'fancy' language or jargon

Keep your writing style clear, to the point and professional, to give the employer the best first impression of you.

  • Use silly email addresses or fancy fonts, borders, tables or graphics

There’s only one exception to this rule, and that’s if you’re a graphic designer looking to show off your skills. 

 

 

  • Leave unexplained gaps in your employment ​​​​​​​

If you were job seeking or volunteering when you were out of work, make sure you record it.

  • Be negative about your experiences

Focus on the positives of each and try to avoid clichés - you want to show a little originality, and stand out amongst other applicants.