A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an outline of a person’s educational and professional history, and conveys your personal details in a way that presents you in the best possible light. You are marketing yourself on a CV, so you need to sell your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to potential employers.
It is preferable to have a CV in the first phase of the application process so it’s important you firstly have one to submit to us or an employer, and secondly, that it stands out. This is the same for many other employers so some of these tips you may find useful.
So, what are employers looking for on a CV? Dependant on the role, the top things we usually look for are:
- Previous related work experience
- Qualifications and skills
- Easy to read with short and snappy sentences
- Spelling and grammar – dependant on role and job specification
Some vacancies receive a large number of applications, so it’s important that yours gets straight to the nitty gritty by stating your related experience, work history and other qualities that relate to the position or sector in which you’re making an application. Remember, this will probably be the initial and only source of information we or a potential employer receives about you, so sell yourself and consider writing an accompanying cover letter.
A CV should always be typed using a word processor and when uploading your CV online, always try to submit the original electronic document (Microsoft Word or PDF). Try not to go over two pages of A4 and put the most important information on the first page. Because of the limited space, this should allow you to keep things concise – but ensure you don’t make the layout cluttered and use sensible margin spacing. Bulleted paragraphs are a good way of saving space and adding impact to statements – they’re easy to read as well and you can also tailor these quickly yourself for specific job requirements.
Use titles so we or the employer can instantly see what each section is. Try not to be too flashy with the design – it’s vital all of the essential information is instantly visible.
What to put in your CV
- Contact details – CVs can be kept on file so ensure you put down contact details that will remain accurate in the long-term. A day time contact number is important, include your mobile number if you have one and also an email address.
- Previous employment – Start with your most recent work experience at the top and go backwards, and include the start and leave dates for every position. Include concise details of what the job entailed, what your responsibilities were and what you achieved in the role. If you have time gaps between employment, just be honest and explain what you were doing in that time.
- Qualifications – Dependant on the position in which you’ve applied, it’s not always necessary to list all of your GCSEs separately with grades etc, instead you could write ‘6 GCSEs with A-C including Maths and English’. List the schools or colleges in which any qualifications were earned, again in order of most recent to oldest.
- References – If you are able to secure references from a previous employer, ‘references available on request’ is sufficient for this section as we are able to follow these up with you if we progress to the next stage of the process.
Things not to include
You don’t need to title the CV, Curriculum Vitae or CV, as this is already obviously so don’t waste the space. Don’t include anything more than a line or two about your interests and hobbies if you want to add this, unless you know that it will be especially relevant. If you are short of space this should be the first information to be taken out entirely. Try not to repeat any information and don’t include irrelevant or negative information – we want you to sell yourself so it needs to start positive and continue like this the whole way through.
Check your spelling!
It’s really important that you checking spelling throughout your CV before submitting to a potential employer. You can do this by carrying out a spell check using Microsoft Word. If you do not have access to Word, there is also a free online spell checker that will highlight words that are spelled incorrectly.