C.V. Writing

What it is....

What is a C.V.?

  • C.V. is short for Curriculum Vitae and is an outline of your educational and work history. You will normally prepare one for a job application and should generally keep the key facts updated throughout your career.
  • It is there to show off and sell your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to any potential employer and you should therefore use it to present yourself in the best possible light.
  • Focus on the positives, don’t include the negatives.
  • Your C.V. is aimed at getting you an interview; no more, no less. Therefore make sure that it is relevant to a prospective employer.
  • Some employers may require you to fill out an application form. Always Include your C.V. and a covering letter even if it's not asked for.

Make sure you……

  • Include clear up to date contact details on you C.V. including a phone number,  which has a voice-mail attached to it and a professional email address which you check regularly – not goofykid@mymail.com. Much better to have something like daisy.smith@btconnect.com
  • Use good quality white A4 paper.
  • Word-process your C.V.
  • Use a good font. Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana are best.
  • Use 12 point for the normal font with 14 for headings and sub-headings.
  • Keep it to two pages at most. People with the most experience and qualifications often have the shortest C.V.s.
  • Use an uncluttered layout.
  • Use clear, concise English.
  • Research the details of the job and the employer.
  • Write in short concise sentences. Bullet points can be a good idea.
  • Focus on the skills you have which are relevant to the job.
  • Include details of charity or voluntary work, work experience or internships.
  • Put key words on the left of the page where they are easily spotted.
  • Include details of any interests that you have, which demonstrate organisational or teamwork skills.
  • Use keywords that would flag up if the C.V. were being searched electronically.
  • Use strong action words such as led, created, changed, built, influenced.
  • Are honest and accurate.
  • Check spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammar.
  • Get someone to proof read it for you before sending it.
  • Send with a covering letter.
  • Send it to the right company and person. If you are not sure telephone first.

Also Make sure you…….

  • Don't write C.V. or Curriculum Vitae at the top.
  • Don't include your date of birth or age on your C.V.
  • Don't include a photograph unless specifically asked.
  • Don't use coloured paper.
  • Don't use the first person 'I'......
  • Don't just list a job description.
  • Don't give loads of irrelevant detail on things you did 10 years ago.
  • Don't use abbreviations or jargon.
  • Don't try to be funny.
  • Don't use weak action words such as joined with, participated in, helped with.
  • Don't use boring buzzwords like results-oriented, team-player and motivated.
  • Don't include the names of referees. Always provide them later on request.
  • Don't include negative information on yourself.
  • Don't address it ‘To whom it may concern’.
  • Don't fold it – send it unfolded in a large envelope if it is going by post.

Application Forms

  • Many employers now prefer you to complete an application form, either paper or online. This doesn't prevent you sending your CV as well.
  • Make sure that you answer all of the questions fully and honestly.
  • Make sure that you use the free text box at the end of the form to write more about yourself.
  • Do some research into the company and job specification to ensure that you showcase your skills and make sure that they are relevant to the questions asked.
  • Unlike a CV, this constitutes a legal document - any inaccuracies may constitute fraud!

Student C.V. for a part-time job

  • Even if you haven’t finished your studies and don’t have complete details, it is still worth completing a C.V. for part-time work. It will showcase your skills, talents and strengths and help you to stand out from the crowd. It may well convince a potential employer that you are a serious candidate for the job.
  • Contact details at the top of the page
    • Name
    • Phone numbers
    • email address
    • Home or college address is optional.
  • Education details
    • Current course being studied.
    • Name of University or College.
    • The title of the degree you are aiming for.
    • Schools
      • A levels – include grades
      • GCSE passes at A* - C – don’t include grades unless they are all at A*/A, then say 'all at A*/A'
  • Memberships
    • Eg. Debating clubs, sports clubs etc.
  • Work experience and internships
    • Include bar and shop work – this highlights team work and service.
    • Include details of charities and voluntary work.
    • Give details of certificates, citations, awards and also any appreciative letters you have been given.
  • Special skills
    • Languages – include level attained e.g. fluent, conversational, rudimentary.
    • Computing – include excel, word, powerpoint, etc.
    • Driving – include details of license held and for how long.
  • Interests and hobbies
    • Avoid solitary hobbies
    • Show a wide range of interests
    • Highlight those interests, which are relevant to the job.

Student C.V. looking for full time job.

  • Focus on layout, grammar and attention to detail.
  • Don’t claim significant experience unless you really have it!
    • You run the risk of looking like you are deluded or out of touch with what experience really means.
    • You are selling your potential not your experience.
  • Highlight key competencies relevant to the selection criteria.
  • Emphasise your achievements and adaptive skills which may overcome your lack of experience.
    • Special skills
  • Contact details at the top of the page
    • Name
    • Phone numbers
    • email address
    • Home or college address is optional.
  • Education details
    • Current course being studied.
    • Name of University or College.
    • The title of the degree you are aiming for.
    • Schools
      • A levels – include grades
      • GCSE passes at A* - C – don’t include grades unless all at A*/A then say 'all at A*/A'
  • Work experience and internships
    • Use action words.
    • Include bar and shop work – this highlights team work and service.
    • Don’t include routine tasks unless really relevant.
    • Relate your skills to the job.
      • Highlight your numerical or analytical skills if you were in a financial job.
      • Highlight your persuasive and negotiating skills if you were in a marketing job.
    • Include details of charities and voluntary work.
    • Languages – include level attained e.g. fluent, conversational, rudimentary.
    • Computing – include excel, word, powerpoint, etc.
    • Driving – include details of license held and for how long.
  • Interests and hobbies
    • Use bullet points.
    • No old clichés!
    • Avoid solitary hobbies.
    • Show a wide range of interests.
    • Show unusual hobbies.
    • Highlight those interests, which are relevant to the job.
    • Show any evidence of leadership such as course representative, captain of sports club, scout leader, coaching badges.
    • Show employability skills, such as organising and planning
  • Referees
    • Do not include on C.V. but make sure you have at least two lined up.
    • One should be an ex-tutor.
    • One should be a former employer – hopefully in the area of work into which you are applying.
  • Personal profile
    • Useful to include at the start of the C.V. (after your details) if you are looking to use it for competitive industries such as media and advertising.
    • It must be original and well written.
    • It might help you stand out from the crowd.

Student covering letter

  • Always send a C.V. with a covering letter.
  • It shows that you will make the extra effort to impress a potential employer.
  • Always use good quality, white A4 paper (i.e. not 80 gm copier paper from the supermarket) .
  • Make sure that your contact information is put as a header in the top right hand corner.
  • Put the person's address that you are sending it to in the top left hand corner.
  • Put the date underneath.
  • Make sure that you address it to Mr. Mrs, Miss or Ms so-and-so. Never to ‘Whom it may concern’.
  • Opening
    • If you don’t know the name of the person or the department where they work, telephone ahead to find out.
    • State your strong interest.
    • Why you should be considered.
    • Your qualifications for the job.
  • Body
    • Add more detail about why you would be a good fit for the job.
    • Show your punctuality and stable working history – back it up with some facts e.g. only 5 days off sick from college in the last 3 years, never missed a lecture, had same job for 3 years whilst at university.
    • Show that your experience and qualifications are a good fit.
  • Conclusion
    • Restate your interest.
    • Mention how it will help your learning experience (if temporary job)
    • Thank the person for giving you the opportunity to apply.
  • Read over and check for grammar and typing errors.
  • Don’t forget to sign it by hand with a decent pen in blue or black ink– never on the word-processor or in pencil.

Facts and figures on student C.V.s           (Research by Kent University)

  • Graduates send 25 letters per interview gained – so don’t get discouraged if you are not immediately successful.
  • More C.V.s sent  =  More interviews gained
  • The average graduate sends out 70 C.V.s before landing their first job.
  • The average interviewer allows less than 30 seconds to read each C.V.
  • You are 10% more likely to get a reply if you send a covering letter.
  • 60% of C.V.s get mailed to the wrong person.
  • Your C.V. will be discarded if it includes a spelling mistake.

Email C.V. and web C.V.

  • If you have to send in your C.V. electronically make sure that the covering letter is the body of the email, not as an attachment.
  • Send your C.V. as an attachment.
    • PDF
    • MSWORD
    • Rich Text Format
    • HTML
  • If you are unsure which format to use send the attachment in multiple formats but PDF files are probably the safest.
  • Always offer to send a hard copy by post.
  • Always send a copy to yourself first to make sure each format looks right.
  • For web C.V. use an HTML format.
    • This is very effective for web-design or computer gaming jobs where you can demonstrate your technical skills along with your portfolio of work.

If you are already in the work place you will concentrate on three slightly different types of C.V.

If you looking to remain in the sector of the market you are currently in

Plain CV

This will best match your skills to your work experience and make it very clear where each skill was used

  • You do not complete a profile.
  • Give your full contact details.
  • Then a detailed overview of your work history in reverse chronological order (most recent job at the top).
  • Advantages
    • You get immediately to the most recent job.
    • It is easy to read.
    • It is concise.
    • You previous jobs are presented in a clear order.
    • It is clear which skills were used in which job
  • Disadvantages
    • If there is no direct link between responsibilities, achievements and skills it will be ineffective.
    • It lends itself to getting a job similar to the one you just had.
    • If your previous jobs are very different it may not give a clear indication of what direction you want to go in.

(Link To example C.V.)

If you are looking to move sectors or move upwards in your current sector

Skills Led or Functional C.V.

This shows your skills right at the very top. Because they are not linked to your experience a prospective employer will not associate skills and work experience together.

  • Begin with a short, well written profile – 3 or 4 sentences.
  • The first part of the C.V. gives 5 or 6 of your skills as bullet points with linked achievements for each one.
  • After that comes your career summary in reverse chronological order.
  • Advantages
    • Begins by focusing on what you can do.
    • It is easy to spot your transferable skills if you have had a variety of jobs.
    • Hopefully the C.V. will match the ‘shopping list’ of a target employer.
  • Disadvantages
    • The skills list will turn of prospective employers if it is badly written – they won’t get to your career summary.
    • If your skills don’t match the job there is little chance of success.
    • Your career summary is a long way down the C.V. – maybe even on the second page.

If you want to change career, had a varied employment history, have taken a career break or have qualifications not directly related to your target job.


Profile led C.V.

This splits skills from work experience again so that a prospective employer will not link your skills just with your work experience.

  • Begins with a short, well written profile – 3 or 4 sentences.
  • Leads into your key skills and achievements.
  • Then onto your qualifications, training and career summary.
  • Advantages
    • Begins with a summary paragraph about who you are and what you have to offer.
    • It may include evidence about what makes you stand out from the crowd.
    • It is easy to focus upon what you want to do next if you have had a variety of jobs.
    • Your most recent job still appears quite early in the C.V. and can be easily spotted.
  • Disadvantages
    • A badly written first paragraph kills the C.V.
    • You may run out of space for your career summary on page one.
    • Your achievements and jobs may become disconnected.

How to write your profile

  • Try and structure in three sentences – You, What, Next.
  • You
    • Show who you are in terms your occupational background, experience and specialist knowledge.
  • What
    • Show what you have to offer. What you have achieved and what makes you attractive to the employer.
  • Next
    • What’s next for you? Which kind of role in what organisation and what challenges?

Wize Tips

  • Use plain white, good quality A4 paper.
  • Only write on one side of each sheet.
  • Use a word-processor and read it as well as spell check it.
  • Don’t use gimmicks.
  • Be concise
  • Be honest
  • Showcase your best achievements.
  • Leave out negative points.
  • Make sure that your achievements are relevant for the job you apply for.
  • Always send a covering letter.
  • Address it to a person.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a reply.