How to write a CV: top tips for jobseekers

Resume

What is a CV?

A CV is a written overview of your skills, education, hobbies and work experience. You might also hear it called a Curriculum Vitae or a resume. You will often need a CV when applying for jobs, internships, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities.

What should I include?

There are some key pieces of information that all CVs must include:

Your personal details: your name and an email address that looks professional

A personal statement: a brief personal summary of who you are and your aspirations

Relevant key skills: these can include any additional languages, digital and creative skills

Work experience: list all your work experience with the most recent first

Education and qualifications: include all your qualifications with the most recent one first

Formatting a CV

How your CV looks is just as important as what it says. Make sure your CV is always clear and easy to read by following these five rules:

  1. Be logical
  2. Keep it succinct
  3. Check for spelling and grammar
  4. Choose a professional font
  5. Use heading and bullet points

Top tips for your CV

Make sure your CV stands out from the crowd. A good CV should show what makes you different to everyone else. What is special about your skills, qualifications, work experience, hobbies and ambitions?

Keep it simple. Hiring managers often read hundreds of applications! Make sure yours stands out by being clear and engaging.

Don’t use the same CV for every job application. Tailor your CV to match the job you are applying for. Look at the skills listed in the job description and use your CV to show that you have them.

Keep it to two pages. The standard length of a CV is two pages. It's better to keep things short than to ramble. If you are starting your career, an employer won’t expect you to have years of experience.

Ensure the formatting of your CV is the same throughout. This will make it look professional. Font size should be between 10 and 12 points.

Keep it professional. Avoid providing any personal information that the employer doesn't need to know.

Explain any employment gaps. Taking time away from work shouldn’t hold you back. Use your CV to explain any gaps and say what you achieved during this time.

Be proud of what you have achieved and don’t lie. If you have to lie on your CV to match the job description, you're probably not ready for that position.

Make sure you know your CV. Job interview questions will be based on the information in your CV so make sure you can talk about all of the examples you have included.

Activity: Write your own CV

Write your own CV and send it to us for some expert feedback from industry experts: wfw@literacytrust.org.uk.