How to write a CV

Whether you’re applying for a job or an opportunity to further your education, it’s crucial your CV grabs the reader’s interest and gets you an interview. So how do you sell your amazing self in two pages of A4?

Avoid writing ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of the page. Instead, list contact details ­­- name, address, a number (ideally mobile) and email. If you’re applying for an opportunity in Brighton, putting your uni address shows you’re close by. You don’t need to include your date of birth or photograph, unless you’re going for a modelling role. Employers may search your social media, so be careful what you post. Depending on the type of CV, you might also include social media links. There are 27 million LinkedIn profiles in the UK, so it’s a great way of connecting with employers. It’s best to use a professional looking photo instead of a selfie. Be wary of publishing your home address online. Check how your email sounds too. If it’s not a variant of your professional name, perhaps create a new account; there’s the advantage that it won’t expire when you leave uni either.

Research the role and the company to tailor your skills. A personal profile introduces you and encourages the reader to read on. Keep it short and sweet, under 100 words. Include a few relevant skills, whilst articulating why you want the position.

A work experience section should include part-time or voluntary work. List in reverse chronological order with dates, job title and name of employer. The work experience section may be replaced with the skills and achievements section, which should be the longest. Try to show your transferable skills, like communication and problem solving. These can be applicable even if you haven’t had experience. Back these up with examples and try not to use generic, clichéd terms. What can you offer? Are you a computer whizz? Can you speak another language?

The activities or interests section is where your personality shows. Think outside the box. “I like going to the cinema” isn’t going to impress anyone. Have you been involved with student societies? Do you write a blog?

An education section lists previous education and qualifications from recent courses back to GCSE (or equivalent). List the start and finish date, title of the course, name of institution and result, if known. However, be sure to not exaggerate your 2:2 as a 2:1. Hedd, UK Higher Education’s service for candidate verification and university authentication, surveyed 1,000 students and graduates, and 33% admitted to lying about important information to get a job. There can be serious consequences for degree fraud.

Near the bottom, you might include references. Nowadays, it’s acceptable to write ‘available on request’. However, most assume that’s the case, so you don’t even need to include that. If you’re asked to provide referees’ details, try to put your current/most recent employer, and then an Academic Advisor or someone who can vouch for you.

Tips to make writing your CV that little bit easier:

  • Search CV templates – to inspire your layout.
  • Bullet point – it can make things more readable.
  • Bold and underlined text – to emphasise and separate information.
  • Arial or Calibri font will do – around font size 11.
  • Double-check – use a spell checker and get someone to read over it.
  • Where possible, use active verbs – e.g. ‘devised’ presents you as having initiative.
  • Don’t forget a covering letter – always include one unless stated otherwise.
  • Ask for feedback if unsuccessful – so you can improve for next time.

The prospect of writing a CV can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. University of Sussex graduates can use the Careers and Employability Centre up to three years after graduating. Or, the Careers Service at the University of Brighton is available for life. For people in Brighton & Hove who can’t access those, the Free library Connect Sessions help people to job search and send attachments such as CVs.

For more information, phone Jubilee Library on 01273 290800 or visit:

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