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FAQs for CVs

Should I include a photo?

Attaching a photo to your CV is not usual practice in the UK. Photographs have traditionally been avoided due to the potential of employers making judgements about applicants. It's important to note, however, that some countries in Continental Europe, including France and Germany, expect a photo to be included as standard. So if you're applying for jobs internationally it’s important to do your homework as this and other aspects of CV presentation will differ.

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Should I include referee details on my CV?

Traditionally it was common practice to include the name and contact details of two referees on your CV, but increasingly this is no longer the case. The main reason is that references are now normally required only at the very end of the recruitment process. As the purpose of a CV is to get you a first interview, references are superfluous so early on in the process.

By providing references later, as you move through the progressive stages of the recruitment process, it's likely you'll think of different people who could act as referees. If you've given this information already, it could become awkward to then request you would like someone else to be a referee.

On a practical level, it also gives you more space in your CV to convince the employer they should interview you by providing evidence of your achievements.

Find out more about choosing referees and requesting references at Job references: what you need to know.

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Should I include a web link to my LinkedIn profile on my CV?

If you're making an electronic application, you could consider including a link to your LinkedIn profile in the contact details section of your CV. Whilst many prospective employers will routinely look for applicants on LinkedIn in any case, adding this can help them do this at a glance.

Be sure to fully develop your profile before adding a link and think about how including your Profile can add value to your application as LinkedIn is a place where your managers or colleagues can endorse your skills and write recommendations. You can also include details of projects you've been involved in that you may not have had room to mention in your CV. You may decide not to include a link in every application – consider if doing so would ‘fit’ with the job or employer you're applying for.

There's a template within the Abintegro CV builder tool that helps you develop a CV format which mirrors the sections of a LinkedIn profile.

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Are there differences in CV etiquette between different countries?

Yes - even with regards to what a CV is called (for example in the USA and Canada, a CV is known as a ‘resume’ and tends to be a briefer document). There can be differences between the usual content, format and length so if you're living or applying for work outside the UK, it’s important to get familiar with the usual CV etiquette in the country/countries you're targeting.

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Age - Shall I include it? Where should I put it?

Since the introduction of age legislation it's no longer necessary to include your date of birth on your CV. Some employers have removed the request for a date of birth on their application forms and by law you do not have to provide this information. However it may still be possible for an employer to work out your age from your other achievements.

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How should I present my qualifications, they're not A levels and GCSEs?

Always try to equate any unfamiliar qualifications to A levels or GCSEs, just so the employer has a rough idea of their level. For information about the equivalence of less familiar qualifications, see What qualification levels mean on GOV.UK.

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Be sure to include all work experience, whether paid or unpaid. Employers are more interested in the skills gained than whether you've got a salary. Remember it's fine to have a one-page CV if you don't have enough information for two pages.

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My work experience is unrelated to the role I'm applying for, how can I show I'm suitable for the role?

Make sure you explain your reasons for looking for a change of role in your covering letter.

Think in terms of transferable skills: what skills have you developed in your previous work that will be relevant to what you want to do now? Match these against the person specification or job description. You can also consider using a skills-based CV format.

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How do I include my list of short-term jobs that won't fit onto two pages.

Make sure you don't leave any chronological gaps. You can summarise some of the less recent and less relevant jobs (e.g. 1985–1992 A variety of temporary clerical jobs in the High Wycombe area).

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Can I get Careers and Employability Services to review my CV?

Yes you can if you're a current student or have completed an OU qualification within the last 3 years. Request a careers consultation for our team to review your CV.

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Your Career Planning Guide

Deciding what you want to do with your career can feel like the start of an exciting journey, but it can also feel daunting if you're not sure where to start. Your career planning guide is available to current students and those who have studied with the OU in the last three years.

You'll need to be signed in to access the guide.

Last updated 1 week ago