Writing a CV can be a challenge, whether you’re looking for a new job for the first time or taking the next step in your career. We’ve created this guide to help you learn how to write a CV.
How to write a CV for a job application
Here are some tips for writing a CV:
- Start with a headline - write your name, email address and phone number.
- Provide a brief summary of your work experience and job goals.
- Describe your education - list the schools and universities you studied at and the degrees and diplomas you earned.
- Outline your work experience - list names of previous jobs, dates of employment and describe your tasks and achievements.
- Highlight your skills - list your work-related skills, such as knowledge of computer programmes or foreign languages.
- Describe your interests and achievements - show that you do other things besides work and have hobbies that you develop.
It is also important to keep your CV neat and clear, using simple and legible fonts and clear headings and paragraphs. Also try to tailor your CV to the job advert you are applying for, so that you highlight your skills and experience in relation to the requirements of the job.
How to write a CV with no experience
- When writing a CV with no experience, you should start with a strong personal statement that highlights your skills, strengths, and career objectives.
- You can draw attention to any relevant coursework or volunteer experience you have. It's important to focus on your education and qualifications by listing any degrees or certifications you've earned. You can also list relevant coursework or projects that demonstrate your skills and knowledge in your desired field.
- Don't forget to highlight any volunteer work or internships you've completed, even if they weren't directly related to the field you're applying for. Including extracurricular activities or hobbies that showcase relevant skills, such as teamwork or leadership, can also be beneficial.
- Emphasising transferable skills like communication, problem-solving, or time management is also important.
- Finally, make sure your CV is well-formatted and easy to read with bullet points to break up large blocks of text. Remember to tailor your CV to the job you're applying for, emphasising the skills and experience most relevant to that position. It's important to be honest about your lack of experience, but focus on what you can bring to the job rather than what you lack.
How to write a CV for a student
- Writing a CV for a student is very similar to writing a CV without experience. A good idea is to use a CV template. Once you have one, begin by including your name and contact details.
- Then write a brief personal statement that highlights your skills, strengths, and career objectives, and include any relevant coursework or extracurricular activities.
- Focus on your education, listing your degrees or qualifications, and your predicted or achieved grades. List any relevant coursework, projects, or research you've completed that demonstrate your skills and knowledge in your desired field, and highlight any extracurricular activities or leadership positions you've held. Emphasise your transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, or time management. If you have any work experience, include it in your CV, even if it's not directly related to your desired field.
- Use bullet points to make your CV easy to read and format it well.
- Tailor your CV to the job or industry you're applying for by highlighting the skills and experience most relevant to that position.
- Finally, proofread your CV for errors before submitting it.
How to write a CV for a 16 year old
- If you are a 16-year-old student creating a CV, start with your personal details such as your name, full address, telephone number and email address.
- Then write a personal statement briefly explaining your skills, strengths, career goals and any hobbies or interests that may be relevant to the job you are applying for.
- In the next section, list your education, including the name of your school, the dates you attended and any qualifications or degrees you have obtained. If you are currently studying, list your expected grades.
- After this, mention your work experience, including part-time work, volunteering or internships. Give the name of the organisation, position and responsibilities.
- List any skills that may be relevant to the job you are applying for, such as computer proficiency, language skills and any awards or achievements you have received.
- Rather than sending one CV to several jobs, tailor your CV to the position or industry you are applying for, highlighting relevant skills and experience.
- Make sure your CV is well-formatted and doesn't have any spelling or grammatical errors. Ask someone to review it to make sure it is pitch perfect.
How to write a CV for a customer service job
- To write a CV for a job in customer service, start with a brief personal statement.
- Follow it up with your relevant experience, and technical skills.
- List the places you've worked and the positions you've held, including the dates you worked there. Be sure to include any specific skills or techniques you've mastered (e.g., handling customer complaints, inbound and outbound phone calls, specific problem-solving).
- Ten mention your education and qualifications. This includes any relevant courses or certifications you've completed, as well as any formal education you've received.
- Ensure that your CV is well-formatted, easy to read, and free of errors.
How to write a CV for a job in retail
To write a CV for a job in retail, start with a strong personal statement that highlights your skills, experience, and career aspirations. Emphasise your relevant experience, education, and skills.
Retail job skills might include:
- customer service
- product knowledge
- sales techniques.
Make sure to tailor your CV to the job by using keywords from the job description. Keep your CV concise and use bullet points to make it easy to read.
How to write a CV for a teacher
- When writing a CV for a teacher in the UK, you should focus on highlighting your relevant qualifications, experience, and skills.
- Start with a personal statement in which you highlight your teaching philosophy and experience. Showcase your communication skills, mention any additional relevant skills or experience, explain why you want to work at the school or institution and keep it concise.
- Continue to provide information about your experience. Under each position, list 3-4 responsibilities or achievements in that job that you are proud of.
- In the skills section, highlight the skills relevant to the position you are applying for. End your CV with information about your education.
How to write a CV for a project manager
- If you are applying for a project manager position, make sure that, in addition to a well-written personal statement, your project manager CV includes a detailed list of your professional experience, including your job titles, the companies you have worked for, and the dates of employment.
- Use bullet points to describe your responsibilities, achievements, and the outcomes of your projects.
- Complete it with a list of your key skills that are relevant to project management, such as project planning, risk management, budget management, and stakeholder management.
- Finally, add information about your education, including your degree, diploma, or any relevant certificates, and any additional training or courses you have completed.
How to write an academic CV
An academic CV is a detailed document that outlines a person’s academic and professional qualifications, research experience, publications and teaching experience. It is typically used by individuals who apply for academic positions, such as research, teaching or administrative positions at universities or other academic institutions.
An academic CV is usually longer than a standard CV and provides a comprehensive overview of relevant academic and professional achievements. The content and structure of an academic CV may vary depending on the field of study and the level of position you are applying for.
How to write it?
- As with any CV, start with your personal details, including your name and contact information.
- Add a personal statement that highlights your research interests, academic achievements and career goals.
- Then list your academic qualifications, including degrees obtained, name of institution and dates of attendance. Don’t forget to mention any research or academic positions you have held, including teaching assistant, research assistant or lecturer positions.
- Highlight your academic achievements, including any publications, conference presentations and grants and awards received.
- List any relevant skills, such as research methodology, data analysis, or language skills.
- Mention any professional memberships or affiliations, such as being a member of scientific societies or serving as a reviewer for scientific journals.
- Academic CVs usually include references. Add these at the end, but before you do, make sure that the people you list consent to this.
- Finally, make sure your CV is well formatted with clear headings and bullets and has no spelling or grammatical errors.
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How to write a CV step-by-step
STEP 1Choosing the right format and layout
A CV, although it looks like a very simple document, has a strict structure. The rules on the appearance and structure of CVs are here for a reason. Firstly, they standardise the application process for candidates, secondly, they make it easier for recruiters to find the information they need, and finally, they make it possible for CV scanning software to do its job.
In the UK, the most commonly used format for a CV is the chronological format. This format lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job and working backward.
Basic CV writing rules:
- In most cases, a CV is a single A4 page document.
- It should be written in a rather classic font, such as Arial or Times New Roman.
- The font size for headings is preferably 12-14 and for the body text 11.
- The layout of the information should be clear. Try to make all the necessary information visible at a glance.
- Your information should be presented in a reverse chronological order, meaning you start with the most recent experiences. If you have no work experience yet, opt for a skills based CV that emphasises your abilities.
To make writing your CV easier and to ensure that your document is up to standard, use a professional CV template.
STEP 2Write your CV Headline
Ready to start writing your CV?
First things first - the headline. The CV headline is consists of your name prominently displayed at the top of the page of the document, followed by your personal information.
Your name should be in a significantly larger font than the rest of the document. Use a rather classic font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
Place your contact details under. Depending on the design of your CV, this could be directly below your name or in a side column.
The most important thing is that they should be easy to locate and include:
- your address
- your professional email
- your phone number.
If you are applying for a creative position, add a link to your portfolio or your website here.
CV Headline example with contact details in a side column
CV Headline example with contact details directly underneath the name
STEP 3CV Summary or Personal statement
A CV Summary or Personal Statement is a short note that serves as an introduction to your CV. Its purpose is to quickly introduce the reader to your professional profile. This statement should be brief and concise and should emphasise your distinctive strengths and competencies to explain why you are a good fit for the job you are applying for.
In most cases, the CV summary is located just below your contact details.
It should be in the same font as the rest of the document.
It is good to remember that the personal statement is not written in the first person singular but in the third.
I.e., instead of writing
"I am a hairdresser and have 10 years of experience in the industry."
"Seasoned hairdresser with 10 years of experience in the industry."
How to write a CV summary?
First of all, although it's counterintuitive, we recommend getting down to writing this section at the very end. Why? Because then you will already be warmed up in your CV writing, in addition to being up to date with all that is in your CV and what you want to convey to recruiters.
Focus on the job offer you are responding to. Study the job advert well and consider whether your professional profile matches up with who they are looking for.
Present yourself in the best possible light. But remember - that doesn't mean you can bend the truth! Instead, use the vocabulary used in the job offer and present the profile of the candidate who fits the position.
CV Summary examples
Let's now take a look at some sample CV summaries or personal statements.
Personal statement for a recent graduate
Dedicated student seeking internship opportunities. Ready to apply classroom knowledge into practical experience and support team. Quick learner prepared to develop industry knowledge and delve into challenging projects.
Personal statement for an experienced teacher
Creative and adaptable teaching professional with experience in planning and presenting lessons catering to varying needs and abilities. Organised, confident, and friendly individual. Uses creative learning strategies to increase classroom engagement and enhance student understanding.
Personal statement for a nurse
Diligent nursing professional with demonstrated success in emergency patient care. Agile and responsive to dynamic patient needs and environmental conditions. Team-oriented and reliable with expert healthcare knowledge, clear verbal and written communication skills and sound clinical judgment.
Now for the specifics:
- Your personal statement should be about 3-4 sentences long.
- Include information about your work experience.
- Show off your special skills or achievements.
- Write in the third person.
STEP 4Work experience
Work experience is one of the most important parts of your CV because it provides potential employers with insight into your professional background, skills, and abilities. Employers want to know what you have done in the past, what you have achieved, and how you have developed as a professional. Make sure it is written in the right way.
Make sure you include the experience that is most relevant to the position you are applying for. Look at the job description and use it as a guide to provide specific examples of how your past experience aligns with the role requirements.
Use reverse chronological order. This means list your experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent or current position first. Include the job title, company name, location and dates of employment for each position. Complete it with your duties in each role to better highlight your skills and qualifications. Use bullets to break it down into easy-to-read statements. Ideally, each bullet should focus on verifiable achievements, such as projects completed, sales results achieved or awards received.
See example of work experience for a shop assistant:
Shop Assistant, Margaret’s Cosmetics, London, June 2019 - current
- Assisted customers with their purchases and provided product recommendations, resulting in a 20% increase in sales.
- Operated cash register and credit card machines, processed cash and credit card transactions, and balanced daily sales totals.
- Restocked shelves and maintained inventory levels, ensuring that products were always available for customers.
Shop Assistant, Harry’s, London, April 2014 - May 2019
- Participated in periodic inventory checks to ensure accuracy and identify any discrepancies in stock levels.
- Assisted with receiving and unpacking shipments, checking for accuracy and quality of merchandise.
- Created attractive displays and organised merchandise in a visually appealing manner to increase customer engagement.
But what do to if you have no work experience yet or your experience doesn’t really match the job offer?
If you have no work experience, you can still showcase your skills, achievements, and potential through your education, extracurricular activities, and personal profile. Highlight your strengths, be confident in your abilities, and tailor your CV to the position you are applying for.
In this case the best idea is to focus on your transferable skills.
Highlight any skills or experience that might be useful in your new role. This may include skills such as project management, communication, or problem-solving.
Employers openly state that they value motivated individuals who are ready for action and willing to learn.
STEP 5Education section of CV
The next important section of a CV is education. It can include information about the degrees you obtained or courses finished in order to provide potential employers with a summary of your academic background and qualifications.
When presenting your education, use a reverse chronological order, meaning start with your most recent education first and work backward.
Include the degree or qualification earned, the name of the institution, and the date of completion. If you are currently in the process of obtaining a degree, include the expected graduation date.
Make sure to mention any relevant coursework or special certifications.
See example of education for a Shop Assistant:
Level 1 Certificate in Retail Skills, South Essex University, 2018
STEP 6Skills to write on a CV
Now let's address the next part of the CV, which is skills. Skills on a CV inform a potential employer or recruiter what you are already capable of, meaning what duties you can perform. Developing a range of skills is essential for success in both personal and professional life. Skills enable employees to adapt to changing circumstances, take on new challenges and achieve goals.
Skills can be classified into two main categories:
Hard skills: they cover specific technical abilities that are necessary to perform a particular job, such as programming, accounting, or data analysis.
Soft skills: include interpersonal or communication skills that enable a person to work effectively with others, such as leadership, teamwork, or networking.
When writing a CV, make sure to include a list of skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Read the job description carefully and highlight the skills and requirements mentioned in it. Then create a bullet point list of the skills you possess that match the requirements.
Include both hard and soft skills. Usually, 6-10 skills are enough.
Example of CV skills for a shop assistant
- Customer service skills
- Sales skills
- Product knowledge
- Cash handling skills
- Inventory management skills
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills
- Time management skills
Example of CV skills for an accountant
- Financial analysis
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Tax planning and preparation:
- Financial reporting
- Accounting software
- Proficiency in using Microsoft Excel
- Attention to detail
STEP 7Hobbies and interests for CV writing
You must remember that your CV should include mandatory sections such as:
- contact details
That said, if you want to give the recruiter a better idea of what kind of potential employee you are, there is nothing stopping you from supplementing your CV with additional sections such as hobbies and interests.
Hobbies can give employers an idea of the kind of person you are, what drives and motivates you. This can help them understand your values and work ethic, and therefore see if you are a good fit for the team. Additionally, some hobbies can demonstrate skills and experience that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a job in marketing, then having some experience in blogging or social media management as a hobby can highlight your skills in content creation and digital marketing.
Let's also not forget that hobbies and interests can be great conversation starters. Putting interesting hobbies on your CV can help break the ice during an interview and create a more casual atmosphere.
Common CV writing mistakes and how to avoid them
Grammatical and spelling errors
Your CV is a representation of your professional abilities, so it is important to ensure that it is well-written and free of errors. Make sure to proofread your CV multiple times and then ask someone to check it for you.
Not tailoring your CV
Each job application is unique, and your CV should be tailored to each specific job you apply for. Make sure to highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.
Using generic language
Avoid using generic language and buzzwords that do not provide any real information about your abilities or experience. Instead, use specific examples and tangible achievements to showcase your skills.
Being too long or too short
Your CV should be long enough to provide a comprehensive overview of your skills and experience, but not so long that it becomes tedious to read. Aim for maximum of two pages as a general rule, but adjust according to the requirements of the job.
Being too creative
While it's important to stand out from other applicants, being too creative with your CV can backfire. Avoid using unusual fonts or graphics that may distract from the content of your CV.
How to write a CV - Key takeaway
- Start with a strong personal statement.
- List your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job. Include the name of the company, your job title, and your key responsibilities and achievements.
- Highlight your skills. List your key skills and strengths, such as problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership.
- List your education and qualifications in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Include the name of the institution, degree, and any relevant coursework or achievements.
- Tailor your CV to the job. Customise your CV for each job you apply for.
- Use a clear and easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Use bullet points and bold text to highlight important information.
Write a great CV for your next career move
Now that you know how to write a CV that works, it’s time to put it into practice with our CV maker. Browse a wide collection of great CV examples, access top-notch CV templates and pre-written content for a wide range of job roles. Build your perfect CV online, edit it anytime, and download in a format of your choice: PDF, Word, or TXT formats. Ready to get started? With our help, you're just minutes away from a new CV.