How to write a CV

A CV is a sales document – a chance for you to sell yourself in writing to an employer.

It is a summary, not an autobiography.

Keep it concise and closely matched to the competencies outlined in the job role.


• Usually no more than two sides of A4 (single sided)

• The first glance should give the impression of a clear and easy to follow document

• Avoid using email addresses that appear unprofessional, or are “nicknames”

• Don’t include your age, marital status and nationality or the words Curriculum Vitae or CV

• Get it proof read


Adapt your CV for each employer and job. Match your skills and competencies to the requirements listed in the job description and person specification.

Profile: this is your “sales pitch”. Briefly show the employer you have the skills and competencies to match the job role (not just a list of generic personal qualities).

Skills or Achievements: a bullet-pointed section highlighting your ability to do work related tasks, or examples showing successful results.

Career History

• Most recent employment first (include Employer, Job Title, Dates, and Duties or Competencies and Achievements)

• As a general rule, just go back about ten years. Summarise prior to that

• Explain any gaps in your employment history

• If you have had several similar jobs, don’t repeat the same information. Say something different about what you achieved or gained from them

• Include relevant voluntary work in this section. Consider using a job title, rather than “volunteer” and just mention it as a voluntary role in the job description

Qualifications, Training, Professional Development

Include any relevant, workplace training such as fieldwork techniques or health and safety certifications and dates of any certificates achieved. Don’t include details of your dissertation or thesis or degree modules unless highly relevant. Qualification title should be sufficient. List membership of any professional bodies particularly if you have gained membership through study, assessment or accreditation. Additional Information An optional section to present anything else that might strengthen your CV – such as a driving licence or foreign language. Top tip: If you are struggling to find the words and phrases to describe your competencies, look at other advertised job descriptions and person specifications for ideas.


[Are there any examples of CVs for particular specialisms or for jobs outside the UK?]