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CVs: an overview

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A CV (curriculum vitae) is a brief account of your education, qualifications, skills and work based experience, used mainly when applying for a job. Your CV is your first opportunity to tell an employer what you can do, and is a vital part of your job hunt; a well written CV can make the difference between getting an interview and not being considered for the role.

What does a good CV look like?

  • Your CV should be accurate, targeted to the job you’re applying for, and not too long (ideally no more than 2 pages/sides of A4).
  • A good CV gives the facts required and conveys an impression of what you’d be like as an employee.
  • Present it simply and clearly so it’s easy to read, engaging and looks professional.

What to include in a CV

Your CV should include:

  • your basic contact details: including a contact telephone number and email address. If you've a LinkedIn profile which you’ve developed to support your job search, you may also want to include the direct web address to your profile.
  • your education and qualifications which may include:
    • degree subject and class (attained or expected). If you've studied an Open degree, it can be helpful to list the modules you've studied to indicate the subject areas you've covered
    • A levels/Highers or vocational qualifications, giving dates and grades, summarised
    • GCSE/O levels/Standard grades
  • your work experience (paid or unpaid), with responsibilities and achievements developed in these posts
  • your key or transferable skills
  • any additional relevant skills, such as language skills or specific IT skills.

It’s also useful to include a ‘personal profile’ or short paragraph highlighting your key skills and career aims to catch the eye of your potential employer.

You don’t have to include…

  • your age
  • your marital status
  • your health status
  • your nationality
  • your full address details (especially if your CV is publically accessible for example on job boards)
  • school and university addresses, or examining boards
  • minor qualifications unrelated to the post applied for.
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