Skills for Work

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

CV AdviceIs your CV the best it can be? Follow some basic structure and content guidelines and get yourself noticed!

What’s it all about?

The term CV (Curriculum Vitae) can be traced back to its Latin meaning 'course of life', in the UK it provides an overview of the applicant and is often the first opportunity to impress a potential new employer. We advise that your CV is accompanied by a covering letter, providing an additional overview of why you are interested in the specific vacancy and the appropriate skills you possess to make you suitable for the role.

When a vacancy is being advertised a person specification is created, identifying the skills and experience required for the vacancy. During the selection process CVs will be screened to see how closely they match the person specification. This process can be very time sensitive and as a result you have very little time to make an impact.

What to consider when writing your CV?

One size does not fit all!

Applying for a wide range of vacancies with the same CV can limit your chances, so make sure to tailor it and check it meets the requirements of the position. Ensure the layout looks professional and the information is sharp, relevant and to the point (not to mention free from spelling mistakes).

Unfortunately your CV can have as little as 10-15 seconds to impress potential employers, it is therefore  vital to sell yourself using positive language, emphasising your key skills. Limit yourself to one side for your cover letter but do not feel restricted in how long your CV should be, if you have relevant information, then it should be on the CV, just don't 'waffle' or feel the need to 'pad out' your skills. Use a standard font consistently throughout, such as Arial 12pt. Check and re-check your grammar, spelling and punctuation, rely on a spell checker at your peril!

If you are struggling to decide what to include in your CV, why not consider getting some help to create a new one? There are a number of CV writing and critique services available that can advise you on what is best to include and which irrelevant details to omit.

Everything you include should showcase you as the ideal candidate, matching the role as closely as possible.

CV checklist.

If you have covered these points you are already in good standing.

  1. Succinct sentences are easy to scan; many recruiters have just 10 seconds to read it.
  2. Use standard typefaces such as Arial, 11 or 12 points.
  3. Check and re-check spelling, do not rely on spell checker.
  4. Ensure your CV prints in the same way you have designed it.
  5. Employment history should be easily found and consistent. (most recent first)
  6. Lead with achievements, use active verbs and positive language.
  7. Follow up all claims with proven examples.
  8. Ensure you have suitable referees.
  9. Include awards or recognition received for work well done, together with professional memberships and relevant training.
  10. Keep your CV honest
  11. Ensure every line sells you at your best.
  12. Prioritize relevant content.
  13. Ensure you send your CV with a covering letter
  14. Avoid generic positive words that have no support in your CV.
  15. Include facts and figures i.e. number of staff you managed or budget size.
  16. Focus on what you have to offer the employer rather than listing what you have done.
  17. Seek feedback if you are not achieving any interviews and if you feel your CV is not reflecting you at your best seek external advice. 

Top tip: An often overlooked issue;  avoid using expletives, silly, rude or potentially offensive words within your email address!!

keep it professional and simply use your name e.g. [email protected]. If you don't, This could put employers off instantly!

We hope this helps in someway; don't forget to check out the other advice and support pages on Also, bear in mind the wealth of knowledge and advice out there online and locally, take advantage of it.


When writing your CV, keep in-mind the following key points: Concise, Precise and Entice.

ImportantEvery little helps!

Use the title of the job you're applying for as a headline. This gives immediate focus to your CV and helps the recruiter keeps things organized.