Writing a CV
Writing a CV may not be the most thrilling experience but it is a vital part of your application. Therefore, we have put together the following tips, particularly targeted for students, to make sure your CV stays on top of the pile. Although there is no one way to write a CV, there are certain aspects of the CV which you can ensure are completed and presented in a suitable manner.
As recruiters tend to avoid CVs which are messy to look at, it will help to make yours easy to read. Thus, make sure to keep the layout of your CV simple, clean and well-structured.
Divide your CV sections clearly with sufficient spacing and clear section headings.
Check out our Resources page to get hold of CV templates used by our mentors!
Use a simple and sensible font that is easy to read and ensure that the font is consistent throughout.
Avoid long paragraphs and use bullet points when explaining key roles/responsibilities.
Do not write ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of the page.
Avoid adding any photos, unless specifically asked for.
As employers receive hundreds of CVs for every role, they do not have time to read all of them in detail so it’s best to stick to a maximum of two sides of A4 paper, typed. Although, for some industries, particularly investment banking, the limit is often one page.
Your CV should be clear and concise so avoid waffling.
The following CV structure uses the reverse chronological order, which is the most common type of CV and more popular with students and recent graduates in the UK.
With this order, you list your work experience/qualifications in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position and proceeding backwards.
Below is a detailed checklist of what goes in the CV from top to bottom.
Name and Contact Details
- Your full name should be in a large font size at the top of the page.
- Below this, include your home address, contact number and email address.
Personal Profile (Optional)
- Include a brief personal statement to sum up yourself in a nutshell and explain what you want to offer employers in terms of your ambition and experience.
Hint: This should only be 2-3 sentences.
Education and Qualifications
- List all previous education with the most recent first (i.e. University first then A-levels (or equivalent) and finally your GCSEs).
- Include the name of the institution, the years that you attended along with the qualifications and grades you achieved.
- Dependent on the industry and role, include specific modules or projects if they demonstrate your relevant knowledge and skills for a certain role.
Avoid listing all your GCSE grades; summarise them to save space, for example, "10 GCSEs (5A*s, 3As and 2Bs) including A*s in Mathematics, Sciences and English.”
For undergraduate students, you can include your expected degree classification and mention any previous year grades.
Work Experience and Employment History
- List relevant work experience in reverse chronological order (i.e. with your most recent experience/role first).
- For students, this can be any paid work (full-time or part-time), voluntary work, spring weeks, internships, placements and work shadowing.
- State your job title, the name of the organisation, time in position, and your key responsibilities.
- For each experience, include one or two key examples to highlight what skills you gained, how you developed them and what you achieved.
Skills and Achievements
- Include any extra-curricular achievements (this can be related to music, sports, university societies, etc.)
- Mention specific skills such as foreign languages you speak, IT packages you can competently use or any online courses you have taken.
Hobbies and Interests (Optional)
- List interests that are appropriate and relevant to the field of work you are applying for or that help convey your character and personality.
Hint: Only include those which are going to add value.
- Provide two contacts (this can be a teacher or previous employer) including their full name and email address.
- You do not necessarily have to put references on your CV and often you can write “References available upon request”.
OUR TOP TIPS
TO WRITE A SUCCESSFUL CV
It’s not necessary to list every experience or achievement in your CV, only the ones that are applicable to the role you’re applying to.
BACK UP YOUR EXAMPLES WITH NUMBERS
Adding measurable accomplishments to your CV sounds more impressive since numbers have a big impact.
For example, do not just write that you increased sales; say that you increased sales by 80% over a four-month period.
It’s important to review your CV and add new skills or experiences as you gain them.
Try avoid overused clichés and buzzwords such as creative, passionate and hardworking.
Instead use powerful words when describing your experiences and achievements such as
launched, co-ordinated and orchestrated.
CHECK YOUR CV BEFORE YOU SUBMIT
Check thoroughly for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes by using a spellchecker or asking someone else to proofread your CV.
Do not try to come across as casual or funny in your CV especially as it is a professional document. Also, explain abbreviations if and when using them.
SAVE YOUR CV IN THE CORRECT FORMAT
Edit your CV in Microsoft Word and once it’s finished, save and send it as a PDF. Make sure to save it under an appropriate filename.
TAILOR YOUR CV FOR EACH INDUSTRY OR JOB ROLE
You may need to make suitable changes to your CV to try match examples of your skills and qualities with those described in the job requirements.