Sometimes referred to as a résumé, a CV is a summary of your education, skills, work and voluntary experience and is often the first stage in getting yourself noticed by employers.

Employers scan CVs to weed out the less suitable job applicants, so a simple, well-structured and well-written CV will increase your chances of getting to the next stage.

There are many formats which a CV can take, and this must be tailored to the employer and type of industry you are applying to work in.

Tailor the CV for a particular job. Move around your different CV sections to ensure that the most relevant information for a particular job is at the top.

The ideal length of a CV is a maximum of two pages of A4.

This may involve omitting irrelevant information. There is also the exception of an academic or science communication CV, which may have an appendix of publications.

Read some more advice about being selective with your CV.

Most CVs will cover:

  • A profile statement which offers a summary of your most relevant suitability for the role
  • Education and qualifications
  • Work experience – in reverse chronological order or most relevant first
  • Skills/achievements/personal development
  • References

Emphasise and evidence the skills that are listed in the job specification by using real-life examples to show that you meet the employer’s requirements.

Try to avoid sections spanning between pages, large, bulky headings and non-conventional fonts.

Good spelling and grammar are a must!

If you have an up-to-date profile on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn, include the URL on your CV. However, only do this if your profile is up to date and details match your application.

Curriculum vitae written on paper Curriculum vitae written on paper

Writing a CV for abroad

While the above guidelines are suitable for writing a CV for employers in the UK, different countries have slightly different expectations of what an applicant’s CV should contain.

If you are writing a CV for a non-UK employer, please check Prospect’s Country Profiles pages for further information on writing a suitable CV for an employer based outside the UK. However, be aware of the fact that some international companies will recruit you from their own UK-based offices, in which case, it may be advisable to stick to the style of CV advised above for UK applicants.

person writing on a yellow page in front of laptop

A cover letter should always accompany your CV

Read our tips on writing an effective cover letter.


Cover letters

Further resources

  • Advice on applying for a job from Totaljobs

  • Tips on completing a job application from Indeed

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