Writing a CV
Which personal details should I include?
Details that the employer can use to contact you: your name, phone number and email address.
Should I include a photo?
UK CVs do not tend to include a photograph. It is recommended that you do not include any personal information such as age, date of birth, gender, race, religion, sexuality, marital status, or disability, in case of discrimination. These are known as protected characteristics and are only monitored by employers to ensure the diversity of a workplace.
How long should a CV be?
A maximum of 2 sides of A4. It should be 1 or 2 full sides of A4 and not 1 and a half.
Do Academic CVs differ?
Yes. Academics CVs tend to be longer than 2 sides of A4, depending on experience. They include research interests, publications, conferences attended, funding awards and professional membership, in addition to the content of a non-academic CV.
Do different countries require different styles/content?
Yes. Research the format for the country you are applying to work in, as they are all different. Some countries require a photo, date of birth, details of your health, hobbies and languages spoken.
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There is no ‘one best way’ to construct a CV; it is your document and can be presented as you wish, however the following sections are usually included:
- name, telephone number and email
- address (if need be – this is not as common now, as people tend to be more mobile and employers don’t need to send information to you by post)
- A short, dynamic summary of your skills, experience and career ambitions.
- Avoid clichés like “A hard-working and reliable student…", or lists like “hard-working, friendly, business-orientated” – instead, be specific, evidence your skills and tailor it to the job you're applying for.
- Your degree subject and university, plus A-levels and GCSEs or equivalents. You can simply say the number of GCSEs (or equivalent) and the grades. For example, 10 GCSEs at A-C grade, including English (AA) and Maths (B).
- Include the official title of your qualification, where you achieved the award and when.
- It can be good to mention specific module titles, if they are relevant to the role, to show a particular specialism or if you want to pursue them later in your career.
- Projects or dissertations are also likely to be important if they are relevant to the work you are applying for, or can help you to demonstrate skills such as problem solving or team work.
- Talk about the skills gained more than the tasks completed, relating your skills to the job.
- Use action words to describe your experience such as developed, planned and organised.
- Use bullet points to break up the CV, making it clearer to read.
A skills-based CV is structured to evidence skills you have developed through different aspects of your life, including your academic study, work history, voluntary work and extra-curricular activities. This CV format is useful when you have limited work experience or for mature students and graduates whose degree subject and work experience are not directly related to their application. The Skills Profile will be the main part of this CV while details of your employment and education are usually kept to the essential facts.
Focus on skills that demonstrate how suitable you would be for a role.
Examples could include:
- technical skills (e.g. ICT, Microsoft Office, coding languages, video editing)
- practical skills (e.g. leadership, public-speaking, research)
- languages you speak
Optional CV content
Hobbies and interests
Keep this section short and to the point. Make sure that the information is useful and relevant to the employer or role.
Many employers don’t check references at the application stage, so unless the vacancy specifically requests referees, it's fine to omit this section completely – just write "References are available on request."