How to write a UK CV

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How to write a successful CV.

A good curriculum vitae – or CV – is vital when looking for work, especially when there are numerous candidates for the same job, so what should it contain?

There is no perfect template, and each sector may require a different emphasis on a different aspect of the content, such as career history or qualifications.

However, experts suggest there are some basic rules on how a CV should be written and the information that should be included.

It should also be short, usually no more than two sides of A4 (or one double-sided sheet). It should be positive, stressing achievements and strengths, and make a good impression in a clear and positive way.

The basic format for a CV includes:

Personal details, including name, address, phone number, email address. You no longer need to include your date of birth, owing to age discrimination rules, nor marital status. Neither is a photo required.

• (Optional) A brief summary of the most relevant and important aspects of your employment history and qualifications.

Career history, starting with your most recent job first. Include dates and temporary or voluntary jobs if appropriate. But if you’ve worked in a lot of different places, don’t include every job if it isn’t relevant. Working 6 months in McDonald’s is OK to show that you have some work experience, but if you have 2 or 3 more jobs more related to what you are applying for, then it’s not necessary. Include a very brief summary of what your job involved.

A personal profile which sells yourself and your qualities, tailored towards the job you are applying for. More information below.

• Qualifications and training from previous jobs, with the most recent first. You may have to write ‘Equivalent …..’

16 years old = Equivalent GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)

18 years old = Equivalent A-level (Advanced level)

4 years at university = Equivalent Bachelor’s degree.

• Interests, if they are relevant and especially if the skills or teamwork concerned are relevant for the job. Alternatively, you can include this in the Personal Profile (see below).

• Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history, such as caring duties, sickness or travel. Alternatively, you can include this in the Personal Profile (see below).

• References, ideally two or more and including a recent employer. If not, end the CV with the following message: “References available on request.”



List of help with CVs, Letters…


Corinne Mills is managing director of Personal Career Management, which offers careers coaching. She says that a straightforward font and formatting is required – and the spelling must be checked and checked again.

“Poor spelling is the quickest way of getting a rejection,” she says.

She adds that people should check five or six adverts for a particular job and then use the common requirements to mould their CV.

“Many people think that one CV will fit all applications, but it needs to be a very targeted document for the role they are going for. Do some research so you understand what employers are looking for.”

Each CV needs to be tailored towards your own skills, experiences and your job application.
The Directgov website has CV example templates for a care worker and for a construction worker.
There is also a writing a CV factsheet which can be downloaded.

For those looking for a job, a database of jobs held by Jobcentre Plus is a good place to start.
Next Steps, in England, has advice including where to look for funding for courses to learn new skills.

CVs can be produced in a different format for job applications outside of the UK. For example, the equivalent of the CV in the US is the “resume”.

In the same way this outlines job talents, work history, education and career goals, as well as how a candidate’s experience and skills would be suited to the job being advertised.
One guide to writing resumes and cover letters is on the New York State Department of Labor’s website.

The Personal Profile is very important in a CV. Do not think of it just as a list of hobbies.

Read this personal profile:
“I am a hardworking, reliable and energetic person with a creative approach to tasks. I can adapt easily to all kinds of working environments as I am very flexible. An advanced PC user, I am also eager to broaden my knowledge and learn new skills. I am articulate and interact well with my colleagues. Able to work efficiently under pressure, I can prioritise my workload to meet tight deadlines. I am fluent in Dutch and German and have an excellent command of Russian. Given the opportunity, I am sure to prove myself a valuable member of any team.”

Here are some other useful expressions for personal profiles:

I am driven and have strong leadership skills.
I welcome challenges and work well under pressure.
I enjoy learning new skills and follow instructions well.
I am an excellent communicator and get on well with people at all levels.

Think of the type of characteristics and personality an employer may need. What may make a good teacher may not be good for banking and business. Being creative may not be an advantage if you are to be an accountant.


Which of these sentences are not true? Press ‘start’ and write the numbers of the false statements below.

1) Don’t just use a spellchecker- get other people to check your CV.

2) Use the CV to explain as much as you can. Go over 2 pages if necessary.

3) You should write one CV thinking of all the possible jobs and companies you may apply for.

4) Give examples of your abilities and duties and be specific about what you have done.

5) Choose a style which stands out from other candidates’ CVs

6) Remember to include your Marital Status (Married/Divorced/Separated/Widowed)

How to write a CV