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CV writing skills

cvWriting your first CV can be a scary business, but here are some top tips to increase your chances of getting that interview!

A CV (curriculum vitae - Latin for 'life story'), is quite simply an advert to sell yourself to an employer. You should send a CV to an employer when they ask for one in a job advert, or when you are enquiring if any jobs are available. The purpose of your CV is to make you attractive, interesting and worth considering as an employee.

The looks

First of all, your CV needs to look professional. This doesn’t mean having a fancy CV formatting tool. Just make sure that it is all done on a computer using a simple typeface (like Times New Roman or Arial) and print it out with black ink. If you don’t have a computer at home, see if your school, library or careers centre can lend you one. Make each section clear by giving it a heading in bold and make use of bullet points so it’s easy for the reader to find the relevant area.

Contact details

Put your name and full contact details at the top so they're easy to see. You don’t need to add your date of birth or a photo.

Summary statement

If you’re confident enough, try to summarise yourself and what you want in a couple of sentences to put at the top of your CV. Include words like ‘dynamic’ and ‘motivated’ so that it catches your future employers eye and they get a quick sense of your personality, key skills and ambition.

The length

Be concise – if you find yourself waffling, stop! Employers go through lots of CVs and will want to be able to assess your experience and skills as quickly as possible. If you can, try to keep it to one side of A4 , two sides at the absolute most.

The right order

Try to put the most recent experience and qualifications higher up and work down to the older stuff. As you go down the page (and back in time), you can use less detail. So, for example, if you’ve just done your A levels, list them and your grades, but for your GCSEs, just mention how many you got, and leave out the subjects and grades.

Interests and hobbies

Try not to go over the top here. Keep this area short and try to adapt it to the different jobs you’re applying to. Don’t add things that are too vague, as it becomes meaningless. So, instead of saying, ‘I like reading’, say that you have an interest in a particular genre.


Don’t put your referees' details on your CV. It takes up too much space and it’s not a good idea to give out other people’s contact details. Simply write at the bottom that ‘references can be provided on request’. If they do want to offer you the job, you can give them the names of your referees to double-check your background and character.

Triple check and check again!

All of your hard work could go to waste if you send off your CV with spelling errors. Make sure you double-check and ask someone else to make sure it's free of any mistakes.

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