CV basics to get you started
- Everyone has a different opinion
There is no perfect standard for CVs. Everyone who looks at them regularly - HR professionals, Careers Advisers - will each have a different opinion on what they prefer, however there are some common principles. It’s good practice to get advice and to look at different examples, but the decision of how to present your CV is up to you.
- Some common principles
- It’s a marketing tool– don’t think of it as a list of everything you’ve done – think of it as a way to sell yourself for a specific job.
- Tailor it to the area– know what employers are looking for and make sure you’ve covered those things on your CV.
- Allocate space according to relevance– don’t use more space on your GCSEs or interests than your degree and relevant work experience.
- Be concise– the reader will tend to do a very quick initial scan- avoid writing long paragraphs
- Understand the different standards
There are different standards for CVs in different countries, and even in different industries e.g. a CV for a Graphic Designer is likely to look quite different to that for an Engineer. Goinglobal is useful for discovering the standards in different countries.
Standards in the UK include:
- Length: 2 pages maximum. 1 page is usually sufficient for part-time work and preferred by some employers for graduate roles.
- Photographs: although it’s standard in some countries to include a photograph on your CV, in the UK this is only a standard for actors and models.
- Date of birth: it is recommended not to include your date of birth on your CV in the UK.
- Present information in reverse chronological order – i.e. the most recent first. This applies to information within sections, not to the CV overall.
- Different styles and examples
Prospects explains the difference between a Traditional and a Skills based CV. Your choice of layout will depend on how you believe you can best present your information to the reader.
Templates are not usually a good idea as they force you to follow a structure and style that may not highlight the things you want. It's better to look at some examples and choose a format that you think will work well for you. Find examples on Prospects and TargetJobs. Do not copy directly from these examples.
- Content order
Order sections according to what is most relevant to the reader e.g. for a part-time job it may be best to start with "Employment Experience" for a graduate job it is likely to be best to start with "Education and Qualifications".