CVs

The purpose

  • A curriculum vitae (CV) should inform an employer of your skills and experience.
  • To provide an opportunity to persuade employers that you have the experience, qualities and knowledge that they are looking for based on the job description and selection criteria provided.
  • To ensure your CV is properly targeted, you need to review and amend your CV for every job application, highlighting your own skills and experience that are relevant to each opportunity.

Preparation

Use our guides below to build your winning CV. You can also find some more subject-specific CV examples on the Target Jobs site.

CV examples When used 
Template CV

Create your own CV using our customisable template.

Standard CV Where the information is arranged under general headings (education, work experience, etc.) and set out chronologically thereafter with the most recent events first. This is the most common format for current students and recent graduates.
Skills based CV Where all information is analysed for evidence of the most relevant skills for the job and then arranged under skills headings. Skills based CVs can be particularly effective for mature students and career changers.
Academic CV Used when applying for postgraduate positions. Often includes publications and conference presentations sections.

Top CV writing tips

  • Generally two sides of typed A4
  • Keep typefaces and font sizes consistent
  • Aim for a font no smaller than 11
  • Break up your text using bullet points
  • Check for spelling / grammatical errors – get someone else to proof read before submitting
  • Try to avoid the use of the first person “I”
  • Target your CV to the position you are applying for
  • Add persuasive detail where possible - facts and figures are great at quantifying your achievements (e.g. "continually surpassed sales targets by 50%", "increased membership of the Maths Society by 100%" or "organised an event for 250 students and raised over £500 for charity")
  • Ask yourself if you would be encouraged to read your CV?

Writing your CV

Planning

Personal details

In this you should include:

  • name
  • full address
  • suitable contact number (home & mobile preferably)
  • your email address.

If you are applying during term time then you may wish to include your term time address as well as or instead of your home address.

Personal profile

Here you can write a short statement to draw readers in and encourage them to read more. Your profile paragraph should be no more than two/three lines and needs to be targeted to the position that you are applying for. You may want to introduce your most recent or current education ('final year Geography student' 'Media graduate'), to highlight a few of your key skills which align to the company and indicate what type of opportunity you are seeking here.

Education

List your educational history in a reverse-chronological order. It is essential that you include the following:

  • level of qualification
  • subject studied
  • grade/mark received
  • place of study
  • dates attended

You do not need to list each and every one of your GCSEs or relevant qualifications at this stage, for example you can instead opt to write: '11 GCSEs grades A*-C including English (A) and Maths (B)'.

Work experience

Remember work experience does not have to be paid to count. List them, in reverse-chronological order, under two sections:

  • relevant work experience
  • additional work experience

Give examples of your main duties in an achievement focused style. Any volunteering you may have done can also be included in this section. Ensure that the following information is listed:

  • dates worked
  • name of organisation
  • job title
  • a couple of examples of your duties
  • any achievements or highlights in the role

Skills

When reviewing your CV for the first time, an employer is looking for strong transferable employability skills (i.e. those skills that are developed in one area of your life which can be transferred to another). Common transferable skills include:

  • communication
  • teamwork
  • leadership and supervising
  • problem solving

Provide two or three strong yet brief examples of when you have utilised these skills and competencies.

Positions of responsibility and achievements

Think of any occasion where you have taken on a large amount of responsibility or had to lead a team. List your examples in reverse-chronological order and list the following:

  • dates
  • organisation
  • role
  • brief description of duties
  • highlights or achievements (just like your work experience).

As with your whole CV, you need to tailor this section so it is relevant to the position you are applying for.

Clubs and societies

You may wish to provide details of clubs or societies that demonstrate your enthusiasm for the sector/job type that you are applying for. Ensure you provide the following details:

  • dates
  • club/society
  • role
  • brief description

Other qualifications

Here you can list any other qualifications that you have achieved such as the Leicester Award or other non-academic qualifications.

Make sure you list the following information:

  • dates
  • type of qualification/programme
  • brief description of activities

Memberships

Mention any relevant professional memberships you have, and your level of membership/involvement if appropriate. An example would be student member of British Psychological Society.

Referees

You do not need to provide your referees on your CV (unless specifically asked to do so), so you can put “available upon request” in this section, especially if you are running out of space.

However, should you wish or need to detail your referees ensure you list the following information:

  • name
  • job title
  • address
  • telephone number
  • email address