CVs - Curriculum Vitae

Guidelines for building your CV

The CV is a significant component within the 'compete' phase of your Career Development Journey

Should you wish to attend an Application and Selection Coaching appointment to review your CV, you will need to complete and bring the relevant preparation document found here. These are useful documents (even if you’re not planning on having an appointment this time) which will help you develop an effective CV.

Your CV should inform an employer of your skills and experience, and provides an opportunity to persuade employers that you have the skills, qualities and knowledge that they are looking for, based on the job description and selection criteria they have 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.

When would you use a CV?

  • an employer has specified this is required in a job advertisement; or
  • you are approaching employers speculatively about jobs.

Your CV is your chance to tell your story in such a way as to impress an employer sufficiently to invite you to the next stage of the recruitment process - usually an assessment centre or interview. Additionally, your CV is a useful developmental tool.  It can help you to identify gaps in your skills, experience and knowledge.  It is a dynamic document so ensure that you keep it up-to-date.

Use our Guide below to build your winning CV. You may also find our CV Templates useful to refer to.

When sending your CV to an employer, you should always include a covering letter.


  • Generally two sides of typed A4
  • Keep typefaces and font sizes consistent
  • Aim for a font no smaller than 11
  • Have plenty of white space around your text so that it is visually attractive and stands out better
  • 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?


Essential Content:

Personal details

The task here is to present enough information so the reader knows who the CV belongs to and is able to contact the candidate if successful to the next stage. You should include: Name; Full address; suitable contact number (Home & Mobile preferably); and your email address.


You do not need to put Curriculum Vitae at the top of your page.  Your name acts as the title of your CV.

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'), highlight your key skills and indicate what type of opportunity you are seeking here.


List your educational history in a reverse-chronological format (i.e. most recent first).  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)'.


If relevant to the opportunity you are applying for, list particular modules/projects undertaken/dissertation details that may interest the reader - especially if you achieved high grades.

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’ and 'Additional Work Experience' and give examples of your main duties. 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.


Use an active tense and ‘power’ words such as analysed/evaluated; formulated; established; and created/designed to begin your statements - making them more interesting and positive. To indicate where you have achieved success use words such as: achieved; delivered; effectively; successfully; succeeded in; and promoted to.


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 & Supervising; Analysing; Problem Solving; Decision Making; Planning & Organisation; Self-Managing; and Using Technology. Provide two or three strong examples of when you have utilised these skills and competencies


You can target your CV by emphasising how you meet the most important three or four skills that the employer is looking for – the person specification, job advert or their website should tell you what these are.

For more information, consult the University of Leicester transferable skills framework.

Optional Content:

It is unrealistic to suggest that you will be able to provide an example of all the suggested content listed below.  Use the sections that you feel are most appropriate to you.

Positions of Responsibility / 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.

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


You may choose to put your voluntary work in your work experience section if it is relevant, or you may wish to list it separately. Similar to your work experience, ensure you provide the following details: Dates; Organisation; Role; Brief Description

Clubs & 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 non-academic or a Leicester Award.

Make sure you list the following information: Dates; Type of Qualification/Programme; Brief Description of Activities


Mention any relevant professional memberships you have, and your level of membership / involvement if appropriate.


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.


If listing your references, make sure you get permission from your referees and advise them on the jobs or opportunities that you are applying for.

Should I adopt an unusual approach?

This can work but it very much depends on who you are contacting. Think about who will read the CV and how they might react to an off-beat style. Using green ink on pink paper and enclosing a single red rose will probably not endear you to a firm of solicitors!

Employers are fairly conventional in general and want to see evidence of your skills and abilities above all else, but if you can encourage them to read more about you by taking a slightly different approach then it might be worth the risk.

Click here for our CV Template and examples

Book an appointment with an adviser to have your CV reviewed, or you can use our e-guidance facility with the MyCareers Query tab.

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