Writing a great CV

writing-a-great-cvWhat is a CV?

A CV is an important document which records relevant facts about you, such as your skills, work experience, education and personal details.

If you want to find work, you need a good CV.



Why have a CV?

  • Your CV is your passport to a job interview. It’s your chance to show an employer you’ve got the skills and experience they need, and that you’re the right person for the job.
  • Your CV will highlight your achievements and your suitability for a job.
  • A good CV will make it easier for employers to find out the things they want to know about you.
  • Having an up-to-date CV means that you can respond quickly to current job vacancies.
  • It enables you to market yourself speculatively to organisations that you would like to work for.
  • Additionally, a CV is a handy reference document which you can use to fill in job application forms.


General Tips


  • Use headings or bullet points and space between paragraphs as this will make your CV easier to read.
  • Use good quality white or cream paper if sending through the post, and use e-mail whenever possible.
  • Choose a font style that is easy to read such as Arial or Calibri.
  • Use font size 11 or 12.
  • Make sure your CV is accurate and proofread -ask someone else to check it over for mistakes.
  • Aim to have a maximum of two sides of A4 paper.


  • List full addresses of previous employers or places of learning –town and/or county is sufficient.
  • Have a ‘comedy’ e-mail address or voicemail message on your mobile phone-change it if necessary, as it makes a bad impression to a potential employer who may contact you
  • Include a photograph- however nice it is!
  • Lie or exaggerate about your experience or qualifications.
  • Be too modest –remember that you are ‘selling ‘yourself to a potential employer.

Remember to adapt your CV to the particulars of a job advert or job specification that you are applying for. You don’t have to use the same CV every time.

You can have different versions, each for a different kind of job, or can tailor your CV to suit the job you’re applying for. It isn’t a case of one size fits all.


What needs to be included in your CV?


  • Personal details

Name, address e-mail and telephone contact numbers are essential. You do not need to put on your date of birth or other personal details.


  • Profile & skills

Your profile should introduce you to the employer and should tell them- WHO you are, WHAT you are applying for and WHY! By addressing these questions you can tailor-make your Cv to suit any job application- whether it’s a professional, permanent role, an apprenticeship or just a part time weekend job to support you while you are at college.


  • Work experience

Start with most recent job and work backwards. Include:

-Employer name

-Dates you worked for them

-Job title

-Your main duties


Focus on your relevant skills and achievements, and don’t overlook any voluntary work or other non-paid activities that you have undertaken.


  • Education and qualifications

Start with your most recent qualifications and work back to the ones you got at school. Using bullet points or a table include: names of schools, colleges and awarding bodies and any work-related courses, if they’re relevant. List qualifications gained, including dates, subjects and levels achieved.


  • Other information

Anything else that you may be of interest to an employer, for example:

-Health and safety or first aid qualifications

-Computer literacy and specific packages you are competent with


-Driving licence

-Membership of organisations

-Anything relevant that might attract an employer’s attention!


  • Include hobbies and interests

-Try to put interests that imply that you are a team player

-Think of something more interesting than “socialising, gaming, reading or watching TV”

-Where possible, make them specific to the role you are applying ( For example,  if you are applying for a job in catering, include the fact that you are a keen cook at home)


Types of CV’s – how do they differ?

The Skills-based CV

The skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV, can be used if you have gaps in your employment history. This type of CV is also useful if you have limited experience or you are applying for a job which is not related to your degree subject.

Employability skills are transferable to different roles and employers. The skills-based CV allows you to focus on the skills you have developed in various areas of your life.

It’s important to:

  • position your skills profile prominently;
  • match skills with the role profile and use the same headings;
  • provide evidence of how you’ve used your skill in a real life situation.


The Targeted CV

A targeted CV is a skills-based CV format. This format can be useful if you’re looking for a career change. This is because it focuses on your transferable skills and experience, rather than job titles, companies, and how long ago you got the experience.

It’s called a targeted CV because you use it to aim for a specific type of job. You only include details that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. These are listed in two separate sections: abilities and achievements.

A targeted CV is similar to a functional CV, in that it focusses on skills rather than job roles. However, on a targeted CV you use the headings ‘abilities’ and ‘achievements’ rather than creating three to six individual skills headings, as you would on a functional CV. This can help your major strengths and achievements to stand out.


The Traditional CV

The traditional CV, sometimes known as a chronological CV is used to match your qualifications and work experience with the requirements for the job role. The CV is structured in reverse chronological order i.e. the most recent qualifications and experience are listed first.

This type of CV makes it easy for employers to identify potential candidates. This format allows you to provide clear details of your qualifications, work history and responsibilities which match the criteria provided in the job description.

It’s important to include:

  • dates – cover any gaps in your history;
  • qualifications and work experience – match these to the role you’re applying for;
  • additional skills and knowledge – cover essential criteria for the role.


A Skills-Based CV Template

Personal Details



Post Code

Mobile phone

Landline number

e-mail address (make sure that it has a professional address)

DO NOT PUT your date of birth or your nationality


Personal Profile

  • Write a few sentences about who you are, what you are looking for, and what you can offer ie the skills & qualities that you could bring to the job.
  • Look at the job description and pick out the skills & qualities that they are asking for.
  • If there is no job description, think about what skills & qualities are needed in that particular job role eg – Retail – friendly; Care – caring; Catering – work on my own.
  • Good words to use – hard working, friendly, motivated, patient, calm, enthusiastic,

Can work in a team, good communication skills, can solve problems.

  • You can also put in here the hours that you are available to work.



Think about the skills that are needed for the job, either taken from the job description or if there is no job description to help you, ones that you think are important and relevant.

You need to state the skill and then give a real example of when you have used that skill.

Try and use examples from different areas of your life eg school/college, work experience, out of college activities, sports teams, volunteering, family situations.

  • Teamwork – eg  I play in the elite netball team at my college, which I have done for the past 2 years. This requires commitment, dedication and motivation.
  • Communication – eg I have worked with fellow students to research into a project for our engineering class on bicycle trailers. We then had to present our project to all the other students and teachers using power point.
  • Organisation – eg I am involved in the Got Ya Back project and have taken part in conferences and fundraising campaigns.
  • Customer Service eg – On my work experience in an office I had to answer the phone and help people who came into reception.


Work Experience

  • Put your most recent employment at the top and work backwards.
  • Include the dates you worked from and to (month and year : Oct 2015 – March 2016)
  • Put where you worked and the job title eg College work experience at Western Rail as a Maintenance Technician
  • List the activities that you were responsible for, making sure it is relevant to the job that you are applying for.
  • Eg – Responsibilities included :-
  • Organising activities for the children around English & Maths
  • Answering the phone and giving customers directions
  • Working on the fitting rooms and clearing away the stock back onto the shop floor
  • Repairing the machinery on the engines



  • Put your most recent education first – DO NOT PUT Primary School
  • Separate Post 16 education from Years 7 – 11 education
  • Include where you have studied, the dates from and to (month and year : September 2010 – June 2015)
  • Include the title of what you studied and the grade that you achieved eg A’levels in Psychology – B, Biology – C & BTEC Certificate in Health & Social Care – Merit.
  • Summarise your GCSE’s eg Achieved Maths, English and ICT at grades A to C.
  • Do not list all of your GCSE’s and grades, particularly if the grades weren’t very good.


Hobbies & Interests

  • Don’t just list activities and things, make sure that you describe and explain your achievements and involvements from each one.
  • Make it current, up to date and relevant.



  • Always get permission first. You can ask a tutor, learning support, mentor, employer, an organiser of a club that you go to.
  • ‘References Available on request’ is fine if you haven’t finalised them yet.
  • Employers will let you know if and when they need to see them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *